The Ultimate Fighting Championship was in Shanghai, China this past Saturday for the first time in promotional history with UFC Fight Night 122: Bisping vs. Gastelum. It was an excellent night of scraps that saw 8 of 12 bouts end inside the distance, and with the night of action now in our rear view, so let’s take a look at some potential match-ups featuring a few of the less fortunate competitors from the evening…
Michael Bisping vs. David Branch
Bisping lost his UFC middleweight title to Georges St. Pierre via third round rear naked choke submission three weeks ago and he made an immediate return to action against Kelvin Gastelum in Beijing. Unfortunately for the Brit, he suffered a first round knockout, and he wants to fight in England once more, as he wants to retire there. The UFC is heading there in March, and while I think Bisping versus Lyoto Machida would be a phenomenal matchup, and one that I would not complain about being booked, I personally would prefer to see Bisping take on Branch for his retirement fight. I believe the trash talk leading up to that bout could be classic, and it would be nice to see Bisping go out in classic Bisping style. A Machida bout would likely not involve much trash talk.
Li Jingliang vs. Alex Oliveira/Yancy Medeiros winner
Jingliang earned a first round TKO over Zak Ottow and he now enjoys a four fight winning streak inside the Octagon. He is arguably the greatest mixed martial artist to ever come out of China, and for his next UFC outing, I would like to see him take on the winner of this Saturday’s Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira versus Yancy Medeiros matchup. I think pairing Jingliang with either of those welterweights would be a recipe for fireworks. I think March’s UFC 222 would be a good fit for Jingliang’s next bout, whether it be against the Brazilian or the Hawaiian.
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Jeremy Stephens
Magomedsharipov is now 2-0 inside the Octagon with his third round anaconda choke submission of promotional newcomer Sheymon Moraes. He used his post fight interview in the cage with Jon Anik to call out #7 ranked UFC featherweight Yair Rodriguez. I think that would be an excellent matchup, but perhaps it would be better served further down the line, as Rodriguez is coming off a TKO loss to Magomedsharipov’s teammate Frankie Edgar. More fitting for the moment, I feel is a matchup with #8 ranked featherweight Jeremy Stephens, who is coming off a one sided unanimous decision win over former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez in what was Melendez’s 145 pound debut. I think Magomedsharipov versus Stephens would make for a tremendous matchup in the UFC’s featherweight division and I would love to see it booked for a future fight card. I think it would be a great fit to the main card for January’s UFC 220 in Boston.