Post-UFC on FOX 23 Matchmaking Predictions

Julianna PenaThe Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was in Denver, CO for the sixth time in promotional history last Saturday (January 28, 2017) with UFC on FOX 23: Shevchenko vs. Pena. It was an incredible night of mixed martial arts action that saw eight of 12 bouts end inside the distance. The scraps are now behind us, so let’s take a look at some potential match-ups featuring a few of the unsuccessful competitors from the evening… Julianna Pena vs. Ronda Rousey Pena suffered the first official loss of her professional mixed martial arts career this past Saturday night when she was submitted via armbar by Valentina Shevchenko in the second round of action. If Rousey fights again, it will likely be against a grappler, as he is coming off a pair of knockouts against strikers; though, to be fair, Nunes also has very good grappling. There is also some beef between the two going all the way back to the TUF 18 days, where Pena was a team member on Team Tate. Pena has talked trash about Rousey over the years, and I think it would now be the perfect time to put this matchup together. I think it would work as either the main or co-main event to any upcoming Pay-Per-View fight card, especially April’s Buffalo card or August’s Anaheim card, where Rousey previously defeated Liz Carmouche in her first UFC bout. Donald Cerrone vs. Gunnar Nelson I think this would be a fan-friggin-tastic matchup to book in the UFC’s welterweight division. Cerrone competed at lightweight for most of his career, but he will arguably have a size advantage over Nelson, who is known to be a small welterweight and opts to not cut down to the lightweight division. Cerrone and Nelson are both well-rounded mixed martial artists, and I would really love to see them mix it up inside the Octagon. I am especially interested in seeing how things will play out should this potential scrap hit the mat for a grappling exchange between the two submission wizards. Book this fight on any fight card, I don’t care, just do it! Francis Ngannou vs. Fabricio Werdum I love this matchup. Ngannou wants Velasquez, but I think this fight makes more sense, as Velasquez is currently sidelined with an injury. Werdum would undoubtedly be the stiffest test of Ngannou’s professional mixed martial arts career, and it is a test I am interested in seeing him take. It is a rightful step up in competition, perhaps a very big one, but it is one he appears ready to make, and fight fans are ready to see! This potential showdown would unquestionably be a solid addition to any PPV main card and could certainly headline a Fight Night card. Raphael Assuncao vs. Jimmie Rivera Rivera wants Dominick Cruz, but it looks like Cruz may want to sit on the sidelines for a bit, which leaves room Assuncao versus Rivera following Assuncao’s razor-thin split-decision win over Aljamain Sterling on the evening’s preliminary card. Assuncao is now back in the win column at 135 pounds following a unanimous-decision loss to TJ Dillashaw at UFC 200 last Summer and will be aiming to make it two straight for himself his next time out. This may not have “Fight of the Night” written all over it, but I think it is a solid matchup, nonetheless. I would not mind seeing it booked for a future fight card, preferably April’s UFC 210 in Buffalo, NY., which would give New Jersey’s Rivera somewhat of a home advantage.

Written by Gabe Killian

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