Gabe Killian’s Post-UFC Fight Night 34 Matchmaking Predictions: The Winners

Tarec SaffiedineUFC Fight Night 34 was the first ever UFC event to be held in Singapore, and was also the first event to be broadcasted on the promotion’s new online digital network, UFC Fight Pass. The late-night/early-morning action featured some exciting fights, great finishes, and it introduced us to some new talent we can look forward to seeing again in the future. Now, with Fight Night 34 behind us, let’s look at what could potentially be ahead for the winners of the evening… Tarec “The Sponge” Saffiedine vs Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger – This was the original match-up that was set to take place, before Ellenberger suffered an injury that resulted in the shake-up for the Fight Night 34 card. The Belgian was impressive in his Octagon debut, after a long layoff due to injury. He bested Hyun Gyu Lim on the judges’ scorecards, taking home the win and earning a fight against another top fighter. Ellenberger is exactly that type of fighter. I think the UFC will put this match-up back together, as soon as “The Juggernaut” is ready to go. Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri vs Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez – Bermudez is on his way up in the division, and after Kawajiri’s impressive performance this past weekend, I think this is a proper step up for him, and believe it to be a fight that will be very exciting from start to finish. “Crusher” put Sean Soriano to sleep with a rear naked choke in the second round, and is ready for a step up, as he has his eyes set on the 145 gold. Bermudez is currently on a five fight win streak, most recently dominating Steven Siler for three rounds in November. A win over Kawajiri will cement Bemudez in the top 10, and very likely earn him a number one contender match-up for his next fight. It would very well mean the same for Kawajiri; with a win over Bermudez, I see him being one more away from a title shot. This is one featherweight scrap no fight fan will want to miss, and one that will likely take home the Fight of the Night bonus. Since starting this article, Bermudez has been booked in a match-up with Jimy “The Kid” Hettes, and while I like both fighters and think the bout has potential, I really don’t like the announced match-up itself. Hettes just bounced back to the win column, while Bermudez is riding a five fight win streak and should be nearing contention. Bermudez deserves a name opponent, someone who will put him closer to the title. His win streak is one of the longest, if not the longest win streak in the UFC’s featherweight division. Bermudez vs Kawajiri would have been great, because the winner would rightfully earn a number one contender match-up. In the wake of Bermudez vs Hettes, I think it would be great for Kawajiri to face the winner of Darren Elkins vs Jeremy Stephens, who are set to square off at UFC on FOX 10 on January 25th. Max “Blessed” Holloway vs “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung – This is another featherweight match-up I would really love to see. I think it would be nothing short of exciting, and definitely a “Fight of the Night” candidate. Jung is coming off a loss and an injury layoff, but I think he is a proper step up for Holloway. I think this is a fight both guys would love to take. It would mean a lot more for Holloway, because defeating Jung would mean defeating the man who defeated the man who defeated him. Jung defeated Dustin Poirier, who handed Holloway his first career loss. (You still with me? Ha.) Holloway just scored a second round TKO over Will Chope this past weekend, and would look for a step up in competition for his next fight, and this would be a great one fans would get behind. Kyung Ho Kang vs Royston Wee – This would be a match-up between two bantamweights who were each successful in their bouts at UFC Fight Night 34. Kang was deducted two points in the first round due to illegal elbows, but continued to dominate the fight, until securing an arm triangle submission in the third, and earning the tap from Shunichi Shimizu. Wee was victorious in his promotional debut, as he blanketed David Galera for 15 minutes for a unanimous decision victory. Wee’s top control was impressive, but that’s all you can say about him that’s positive. We did not get to see him display any striking, nor did we see him go after submissions, which are supposed to be his bread and butter. I would like to see him take on Kang to see how he fares against a decent bantamweight. No offense to Galera, but he is arguably the worst fighter on the UFC’s bantamweight roster. Don’t know if anybody has worse fight IQ. You may notice that I leave him out of my predictions article for the losers of the evening. Even though that was his debut and technically has just one loss inside the Octagon, I think there is a good chance he could be cut, just because of how awful he was. Much better fighters have been cut after losing their promotional debuts, so it’s definitely a possibility with Galera. Mairbek Taisumov vs Michel Prazeres – Taisumov made his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 34, where he bested Tae Hyun Bang for a 30-27 score on all three judges scorecards. Bang, in his own promotional debut, was outmatched by the Russian. Taisumov, while unable to finish Bang, clearly dominated the fight. Prazeres last saw action against Jesse Ronson at UFC 165 back in September, where he edged out a decision. This fight will be a step up for both fighters, and a real test, as well. It would be interesting to see if Prazeres could do to Taisumov what he did to Ronson, or if Taisumov could do to Prazeres what he did to Bang. It could be a close fight, but I would give the edge to Taisumov for his advantage on the feet. Ronson had the advantage there, too, but his grappling was not as good as Taisumov’s. While I don’t really care to see Prazeres fight, this is actually one potential match-up for him that would catch my interest. Katsunori Kikuno vs Anthony Njokuani – This is a battle on the feet between a pair of lightweight strikers that I would love to see. Much like with Kikunos last opponent Quinn Mulhern, Njokuani would have a significant height, reach, and general size advantage. I’ve heard Kikuno does not cut weight to make the 155 pound limit for the division. Njokuani has not seen action since scoring a second round knockout over Roger Bowling over eight months ago. I think it would be interesting to see how this fight plays out. I would give the edge to Njokuani, mostly because he will land a higher volume of strikes, and will be more active throughout the fight. That said, he would be the one more at risk of being knocked out. This is certainly one match-up in the lightweight division I would be happy to see on a card. Dustin Kimura vs Erik Perez – This would be an interesting match-up in the bantamweight division between two very exciting fighters who go for the kill and have absolutely zero quit in them. They have both recently bounced back from setbacks, and are each looking to string a pair of wins together as they climb their way up the UFC’s bantamweight ladder. Kimura just defeated promotional newcomer Jon Delos Reyes with a first round armbar, after being dropped and rocked early in the round. It was a very entertaining fight from beginning to end. Perez dominated Edwin Figueroa en route to a unanimous decision at UFC 167. This would be a step up for both fighters, and certainly one bantamweight match-up I would make sure to tune in for, ready to watch without blinking. This would definitely be a fun fight, and one I could see going either way, but I would give the edge to Perez due to his technical advantage on the feet. Russell Doane vs Mitch Gagnon – I think this would be a fantastic fight. Doane was impressive in his UFC debut this past weekend, putting decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Leandro “Brondinho” Issa to sleep with a triangle choke submission at the end of the second frame. He took home the Submission of the Night bonus, and now looks ahead for his next task, as he plans to climb up the promotions bantamweight ladder. Gagnon was successful in his last outing at UFC 165, where he put Dustin Kimura to sleep with his patented guillotine choke in the first frame, giving the Hawaiian his first professional career loss. He was set to take on Alex Caceres at UFC Fight Night 33, but had to pull out of the fight because he was having visa issues. I love this match-up, I think it would be an incredibly fun fight for however long it lasts, and I don’t expect it to last too long. It would also be a chance for Doane to get revenge for his fellow Hawaiian buddy and training partner Dustin Kimura.

Written by Gabe Killian

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