Derek Brunson’s early knockout power has proven to be a major threat in recent years. He displayed another example with an early finish of Lyoto Machida in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 119 main event.
Brunson (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) handed former UFC champ Machida (23-7 MMA, 15-7 UFC) the fastest loss of his career in the FS1-televised middleweight headliner at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, improving his standing among the top contenders in the weight class.
Prior to Brunson’s win, Colby Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC), Pedro Munhoz (15-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), Rob Font (15-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Francisco Trinaldo (22-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC), Thiago “Marreta” Santos (16-5 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and John Lineker (30-8 MMA, 11-3 UFC) picked up notable victories on the main card.
After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 119’s winning fighters.
Should fight: Thomas Almeida
Why they should fight: Lineker rebounded from an 11-month layoff due to a broken jaw with a solid performance in a unanimous decision victory over rising bantamweight prospect Marlon Vera.
Lineker showed improved control of his aggression to snap Vera’s winning streak. He apologized for what he considered to be a sloppy showing but nevertheless walked away with an important victory for his career.
“Hands of Stone” has suffered just three losses in his past 27 fights, two of which came against a former UFC champion and a former title challenger. It’s clear the Brazilian is elite, but he’s struggled to get over the hump. At just 27, though, Lineker still has tremendous upside and potential to make more runs at the belt.
Another fighter in a similar position is Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who despite coming off a loss to Jimmie Rivera at UFC on FOX 25 in July, is still among the most dangerous 135-pound fighters on the roster. A matchup with Lineker has “Fight of the Night” written all over it, and more than that has the potential to be one of the great action fights in recent memory.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos
Should fight: Tim Boetsch
Why they should fight: Santos showed why again why his striking is among the most dangerous of anyone in the UFC middleweight division when he became the first to stop Jack Hermansson with strikes.
“Marreta” not only put Hermansson away, but he did it in fierce fashion inside one round, giving him his sixth victory in his past eight octagon appearances. The Brazilian is riding a three-fight streak of knockouts and appears to be improving with every performance.
The Brazilian has few flaws offensively, but issues with durability have proven to be his downfall. It doesn’t matter much if he takes his opponents out first, though, and that’s what’s happened of late, putting Santos in position for another noteworthy matchup at 185 pounds.
Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC) is a long-time UFC veteran who has essentially seen and done it all inside the octagon. His relentless style causes problems for a lot of fighters, and following his win over former UFC champ Johny Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 112 in July, “The Barbarian” would be a good test for Santos.
Should fight: Winner of James Vick vs. Joseph Duffy at UFC 217
Why they should fight: Trinaldo spoiled Jim Miller’s historic 28th trip to the UFC cage when he outworked the most seen fighter in company history for a unanimous decision, taking two of three rounds on all three scorecards.
Trinaldo has essentially been a model of consistency since joining the UFC roster in 2012. He’s won 12 of 16 fights and hasn’t fallen easily in any of his losses. “Massuranduba” might be 39, but he still shows signs of advancement against tough competition.
The Brazilian is a stellar 8-1 in his past nine fights, with the lone defeat coming against top contender Kevin Lee. He’s proven to be a talent worthy of a ranking beside his name in the lightweight division, and he should fight someone of a similar status. The winner of the UFC 217 fight between Vick (11-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Duffy (16-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is in that territory.
Should fight: Eddie Wineland
Why they should fight: Munhoz has become an exciting addition to the UFC bantamweight division in recent years, and his submission win over Rob Font was another example of what he can do.
Munhoz finished Font with a one-armed guillotine choke. That’s a nifty way to make an opponent tap out for the first time, and the effort was rewarded with a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.
The 135-pound division is rather top-heavy at the moment, and more of the numbers close to the title are already booked. Munhoz will get there if he continues his current form, though, and a showdown with a divisional standout like Wineland (23-12-1 MMA, 5-6 UFC) would be a helpful step for his career.
Should fight: Stephen Thompson or winner of Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny at UFC 219
Why they should fight: Covington’s rise up the UFC welterweight ranks took a direct shot closer to the championship when he went to Brazilian and stunned former multi-time title challenger Demian Maia.
Although Covington has become a polarizing personality outside the octagon, he’s doing tremendous work inside of it. He beat Maia by unanimous decision, marking his fifth consecutive win in the welterweight division. ‘
Covington has been calling for a matchup with 170-pound champ Tyron Woodley, but with December’s UFC on FOX 26 fight between Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos pegged as a title eliminator, he’s likely not going to be next in line.
Although it’s hard to move up from Maia in terms of ranked contenders, a fight with the winner of UFC 219’s bout between Condit (30-10 MMA, 7-6 UFC) and Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC), whom he has called out many times, would be a fitting affair. If not that, “Wonderboy” Thompson (13-2-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) would be a good matchup if he can get past Covington’s teammate, Jorge Masvidal, on Saturday at UFC 217.
Should fight: Chris Weidman
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Brunson should fight Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) next.
Source: MMA Junkie