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

C.B. DollawayUFC 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 yesterday’s winners… Gegard Mousasi vs C.B. Dollaway I think this would be a fantastic match-up in the middleweight division, and both 185-pounders flirted with the idea at yesterday’s UFC Fight Night 41’s post-fight press conference. They were each successful at the event, with Mousasi dismantling and submitting Mark Munoz in the first round of action in the evening’s headliner, and Dollaway outpointing the always tough Francis Carmont for a unanimous decision victory. Even though Mousasi dropped down a weight class, Dollaway is also a former light heavyweight and would have the size advantage over the Armenian in this bout. Not to mention the wrestling advantage, which is what he would likely look to employ should he be squared off against Mousasi. “The Doberman” is looking for a ranked opponent, and Mousasi is exactly that. He was ranked #11 at middleweight, but after the dominant performance against Munoz, I believe he will jump in the rankings. Now with Dollaway rising in the 185-pound division and looking incredible as of late, this is a fight I could get really excited for. I would love to see it on the main card for UFC 176 in Los Angeles, and my guess is that Mousasi would open as a -230 favorite over Dollaway, though I could see him quickly getting bet up to -300. “The Armenian Assassin” would without a doubt be the toughest opponent “The Doberman” has yet to face, and is exactly the kind of test he needs after passing the big test that was Francis Carmont. Niklas Backstrom vs Thiago Tavares Backstrom was a late replacement for Thiago Tavares, who was originally scheduled to face Tom Niinimaki at yesterday’s UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin. Backstrom was successful against the Fin, hurting him with a knee and securing a bulldog choke to earn the tap towards the end of the first frame. After defeating the Fin, I think it makes sense for Backstrom to face the man which he replaced. Not to mention the fact that I think pairing these two against each other would generally make for an excellent fight. My guess is that the Swede, while still undefeated, would again be an underdog against the Brazilian, who I foresee opening as a -260 favorite. Did Backstrom get lucky against Niinimaki, or is he the real deal? I believe this is the match-up that will answer that question. The former lightweight and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt will be a very stiff test for the Swede, but as an underdog of over +200, he is who I would personally be eyeing for a play. I very well could see the UFC making this featherweight match-up, and I feel it would be a perfect fit to kick off the main card for UFC Fight Night in Backstrom’s hometown of Sweden this October. Nick Hein vs Mark Bocek I think this would be a fantastic match-up in the UFC’s lightweight division and a deserved step up in competition for Hein, who outpointed Drew Dober en route to a unanimous decision victory on the judges’ scorecards at last night’s Fight Night in Berlin. It was an impressive debut for the German, and I feel giving him a step up in competition against Bocek would be a recipe for a fun fight. They are both talented grapplers, so we may see that cancel each other out and witness a striking battle between the two 155-pounders. The Canadian continues to improve his striking at the TriStar Gym in Montreal, though I think he would be at a disadvantage in the department against Hein. Even so, he would be the toughest test of the German’s career and I figure he would open as a -160 favorite over him, at which price I could see action coming in both ways to keep the line steady. Bocek last saw action at the TUF: Nations Finale in April, notching a split decision over promotional newcomer Mike De La Torre. He was coming off a long layoff in that bout and the ring rust was apparent, but he should be in much finer form in his next Octagon outing. A win over the up and coming German lightweight would mean a great deal for the Canadian, and would likely earn him another crack at a ranked opponent. I think this lightweight bout would be a fine fit as part of the preliminary card for October’s UFC Fight Night in Nova Scotia. Robert Peralta vs Max Holloway Everybody loves to see featherweights go to war on the feet and that is exactly what you will get when you pit these two strikers against each other inside the Octagon. A knockout could come at any time by either party, or it could be an instant 15-minute classic that earns ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. I cannot imagine this being anything short of an exciting fight. This would be an incredible match-up and the perfect choice to get the main card started for November’s UFC 180 in Mexico, which will be headlined by Cain Velasquez vs Fabricio Werdum. I’m sure Peralta would love nothing more than to fight in Mexico, and I have no doubt Holloway would be thrilled to travel to enemy territory to pick up an upset. I think the betting odds for this one would be close, but considering the fact that Peralta would have the hometown advantage and Holloway’s history of not performing at his best against fighters who have a similar style as Peralta’s, I would guess Peralta would open as a slight favorite of -140. At that price, I could see action coming in either way, and would not be surprised to see the line flip with the Hawaiian being a -140 favorite by fight time. Peralta outpointed TUF: Brazil season 1 winner Rony Jason via split decision at the TUF: Brazil 3 Finale on enemy territory in Sao Paulo last night, and Holloway last saw action at April’s UFC 172, submitting Team Alpha Male product Andre Fili in the third round of action. I really hope Sean Shelby eyes this fight to kick off the UFC 180 main card, and will be keeping my fingers crossed. Damien Maia vs Patrick Cote This would make for an interesting match-up in the UFC’s welterweight division. Maia was victorious at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale last night, notching a unanimous decision victory over the game Russian underdog, Alexander Yakovlev. He bounced back into the win column after coming short against Rory MacDonald in his previous outing, and I think pairing him up with the Canadian makes sense for his next move. Cote is on a three-fight winning streak, with his last victory coming against Kyle Noke via unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter: Nations Finale back in April. These two were on the same card at UFC 178, where Maia defeated Dong Hyun Kim via TKO on the main card, and Cote dropped a unanimous decision to Cung Le in the bout that followed. I think this would be an excellent match-up and would put the winner right in the mix of things. Defeating Cote would be a big win for the Brazilian, and just what he needs to get his name back in title-talks. A win over Maia would be huge for the French-Canadian; not only would his name start getting mentioned in title talks, but it would also be without a doubt the biggest victory of his professional Mixed Martial Arts career. Cote looked incredible in his last outing, and a step up in competition against Maia is well deserved. I think Maia would be a 2-to-1 favorite in this potential bout, but with Cote constantly improving, I would consider him a live dog; especially if the bout is scheduled for five rounds. That said, he has fallen short every time he has taken a big step up in competition. I think this fight would be a fantastic fit on the main card for December’s UFC 181 in Cote’s hometown of Montreal, though I could also see it headlining or co-headlining the Nova Scotia card in early October. If they are eager to get back in the cage as soon as possible, I would favor it to co-headline September’s UFC Fight Night 51 in Brasilia.

Written by Gabe Killian

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