Post-UFC Fight Night 41/TUF Brazil 3 Finale Matchmaking Predictions: The Losers

Mark MunozUFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 finale were held on the same night last night, and we got to see a record-setting 22-fights in a single day. Now with both events behind us, I look ahead at some potential match-ups. Here are my matchmaking predictions for yesterdays losers… Mark Munoz vs Rafael Natal I feel this would make for an excellent match-up in the UFC’s middleweight division, and one I could see both 185-pounders being thrilled with. It would be no easy task for either, but I would have to favor Munoz as far as the betting line goes because of his wrestling and dominant ground-and-pound, though Natal is no joke on the mat, so I would not be surprised to see him lock up a submission. I would guess that “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” would open as a 2-to-1 favorite in this spot, and at that price, I could see action coming in both ways. Munoz was just dismantled and submitted by Gegard Mousasi via rear naked choke in the first round of action at last night’s UFC Fight Night in Berlin. Natal is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Ed Herman at UFC Fight Night 40 just a couple weeks prior, and with both middleweights currently on a two-fight skid, I think this match-up makes great sense. I think it would be a good fit for the UFC’s upcoming trip to Saitama, Japan in late September for UFC Fight Night 52. Matt Hobar vs Leandro Issa This would be a match-up between two bantamweights who are 0-1 inside the Octagon, and were each finished in their promotional debuts; Hobar dropped a first round knockout to Pedro Munhoz at last night’s TUF: Brazil 3 finale, while Issa was submitted by Russell Doane back in January. This would be an interesting wrestler vs Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist match-up, and both are talented grapplers. I think this fight would be a good fit for the UFC Fight Pass preliminary portion of UFC 177 in Las Vegas on August 30th. I think the betting odds would be close on this one; I could see either bantamweight opening as a slight favorite. Tom Niinimaki vs Darren Elkins Niinimaki was unsuccessful at yesterday’s UFC Fight Night 41, suffering a first round submission loss at the hands of promotional newcomer Niklas Backstrom. The loss snapped a 12-fight winning streak for the Fin. Elkins last saw action back in January, dropping a unanimous decision to Jeremy Stephens. Both talented grapplers will be looking to get back in the win column, and I think putting them up inside the cage together would produce an excellent fight. I would expect most of the fight to play out on the mat, though I don’t know who would have the better moments there. I think this would be a close fight, but my guess is Elkins would open as a -180 or so favorite for being an incredible, gritty grinder. I would be interested in seeing this bout and think it would be a good fit for October’s UFC Fight Night in Sweden. Alexander Yakovlev vs Paulo Thiago This is a match-up between a Russian and a Brazilian who each suffered losses last night. The Russian dropped a unanimous decision to another Brazilian in Damien Maia, while the Brazilian dropped a unanimous decision to another Russian in Gasan Umalatov. I like this welterweight fight and think these two would produce a more exciting fight facing each other than against their opponents from last night. Yakovlev couldn’t stop Maia’s grappling, but will he be able to stop Thiago’s? Also, Thiago’s chin is not as good as Maia’s, so will he be able to put him out? There are several question marks surrounding the possibility of this fight, but I would still guess the Octagon veteran Thiago would open as a betting favorite of -160 or so, and at that line, I could see action coming in both ways. I’d like to see this fight on a future preliminary card, but on neutral territory, so UFC 178 in Toronto sounds good to me. That would mark for the Brazilian’s first ever trip to Canada, and hardcore fans would be happy to see the welterweight veteran in person, so that’s why I think this fight would be a solid addition to the preliminary portion of UFC 178 in late September. Luke Barnatt vs Francis Carmont This is a pairing of two middleweights who are each coming off decision defeats from yesterday’s UFC Fight Night in Berlin. Barnatt dropped a split decision to Sean Strickland, and Carmont dropped a unanimous decision against C.B. Dollaway. I think pitting these two against each other inside the Octagon makes sense and would produce a very exciting match-up, considering both of their well-rounded skill sets, as well as the fact that they are both very tall and with great reach. I think Carmont would open as a -170 or so betting favorite, and at that price, I could see action coming in both ways, as Barnatt would be a very live dog. This scrap would be a good main-card fit for October’s UFC Fight Night in Nova Scotia. I believe this would be an excellent match-up in the 185-pound division and feel it would be a real ‘Fight of the Night’ contender.

Written by Gabe Killian

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