Post-UFC Fight Night 42 Matchmaking Predictions: The Losers

Rustam KhabilovUFC Fight Night 42 came to Albuquerque, NM for the first time in the promotion’s history, leaving both good and bad tastes in the mouths of MMA fans. Now with Saturday night in our rear-view, let’s look ahead for some potential match-ups. Here’s what I like for our losers of the evening… Rustam Khabilov vs Francisco Trinaldo I think this would be a solid match-up to make in the UFC’s 155-pound division, with both lightweights coming off recent losses and looking to get back in the win column. Khabilov came short against Benson Henderson at last night’s UFC Fight Night 42. It was the first ever five-round main event bout for the Dagestani, who could not keep up with the former champion and succumbed to a rear-naked-choke submission in the fourth frame. It was an impressive performance by Henderson, who earned his first finish inside the Octagon. Meanwhile, Khabilov returns to the drawing board, and I feel a pairing with the Brazilian makes sense for his next outing. Trinaldo just dropped a unanimous decision to Michael Chiesa a few weeks ago, as he was unable to find answers for Chiesa’s superior grappling. That could also prove to be the case against Khabilov, though the Jackson-Winklejohn product has a different grappling style than Chiesa. Khabilov will present problems for Trinaldo, but I think the Brazilian has the style to this this into a fun fight. Even so, I would figure Khabilov would open as a -250 favorite in this bout, but if the fight took place in Brazil, I’d say -200 because I think that would play a factor. Not only just for the crowd and general hometown advantage, but because of the long flight, jet lag, and other hassles Khabilov would have to deal with. I think this fight would be a good fit for October’s UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Jason High vs Charlie Breneman II High fought Brenneman in his one-and-done stint in the UFC back in 2010, dropping a unanimous decision and then being released from the promotion. He is now 2-2 in his second stint with the promotion, and 0-1 since dropping down to 155-pounds. High and Brenneman competed at welterweight in their initial bout, but this rematch would take place in the lightweight division, where they both currently call home. High just had his two-fight winning streak snapped by Rafael dos Anjos in his divisional debut, in what he believes should have been a DQ for dos Anjos for the illegal strikes he was taking behind the head. In fact, High was so upset in the moment that he pushed referee Kevin Mulhall off of him, which is an offense the New Mexico State Athletic Commission will likely penalize him for. Brenneman last saw action at UFC 172, where he used his superior wrestling to control Brenneman in the first round of action only to go out-cold with the very first punch thrown in the second. It was a heavy right hand by Danny Castillo that got the job done, and as Joe Rogan said, it was the best punch he’s ever thrown. “The Spaniard” is now on a two-fight skid and with his back against the wall, so he is in desperate need of a win. I think this would be a solid rematch to make, and one I would tune in for. That said, I see it being somewhere on a preliminary card. I could see it headlining the prelims, just ‘cos of their name value, but I wouldn’t favor that to happen. I think the betting odds for this bout would open at an even coin-flip, and it’s anybody’s guess which side the public will come in on. Brenneman won the first fight, but it’s High who has been looking like the better fighter as of late. I think this fight would be a good fit for either August’s UFC Fight Night 49 in Oklahoma, which is near High’s home-state of Missouri, or September’s UFC Fight Night 50 in Connecticut, which is near Brenneman’s home-state of Pennsylvania. John Moraga vs Louis Smolka This would be nothing short of an exciting scrap in the UFC’s flyweight division. These 125-pounders will go to war, and they both have solid beards, so we could be in for the flyweight version of Sanchez vs Melendez. They are both well-rounded Mixed Martial Artists who prefer to stand and trade with their opponents. Moraga suffered a TKO defeat due to doctor stoppage between rounds two and three for a broken nose caused by a Dodson knee at the end of the second frame. Smolka recently faced disappointment, as well, dropping a split decision to Chris Cariaso just under a month ago. He was visibly upset about the decision, as he stormed out of the Octagon in tears. I have no doubt Moraga vs Smolka would be a remarkable match-up and would love to see it help stack up November’s UFC 180 in Mexico City, where Moraga will figure to have the hometown edge. This would be a fantastic bout to add to the televised preliminary card for that major event. As far as the betting odds go, I think they will open pretty close, with Moraga possibly being a slight favorite for being the superior wrestler, though I would not be surprised to see money immediately come in and make the Hawaiian the favorite. Depends on who the public backs, I could see either fighting closing at -200 by fight time, in which case I think the value would be with the underdog, as I believe it would be a competitive fight. Action could also keep coming in both ways to keep the lines at an even or near coin-flip odds all the way ‘til fight time. I would love to see these flyweights go at it, so I can only hope UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby is feeling the same way. Erik Perez vs Vaughan Lee A match-up between two bantamweights who were each finished in their most recent Octagon appearances, with Perez suffering a second round rear-naked-choke submission loss to Bryan Caraway at last night’s UFC Fight Night 42, and Lee being knocked out in the first round by Iuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin just the week before. The fight only lasted seconds, so the Brit is disappointed for not being able to get anything off and showcase his improved skillset. An opportunity to do so against “Goyito” is more than he could hope for, so I am sure he would be thrilled with the opportunity. I think Perez makes an excellent match-up for Lee, while Lee also makes an excellent match-up for Perez. The Mexican would surely be the favorite in this bout, perhaps a bigger favorite than I anticipate, should the fight take place in his home country of Mexico, which it most assuredly would. I think this bantamweight bout would be a fantastic addition to this November’s UFC 180 in Mexico City, and hope to see it on the card, regardless if it’s the main card or the prelims, though considering they’re coming off losses, it would likely take place on the preliminary card. Had Perez been successful in his bout against Caraway, I think he would have gotten a main card slot on the Mexico card. For now, he’ll be happy with whatever he gets. As for Lee, he is no stranger to upsetting hometown favorites on enemy soil, so he will be fully game for this scrap. Ross Pearson vs Leonardo Santos Pearson is coming off a controversial split decision loss to Diego Sanchez at last night’s UFC Fight Night 42 in Sanchez’s hometown of Albuquerque, while Santos is coming off a draw against the Pearson-coached Norman Parke. The Brazilian is now undefeated in seven fights and would gladly accept this step up in competition, while I think the Brit will take pleasure in defeating the TUF: Brazil season 2 winner and getting the win his protégé failed to, ultimately putting himself back in the win column. Most MMA fans and media would probably prefer to see Pearson take on a bigger name opponent, but I really like this fight for his next outing. I would like to see this fight on the main card for October’s UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It would be Pearson’s second trip to Rio de Janeiro, the first time was the last time he had lost a controversial decision, which came against Edson Barboza at UFC 134 nearly three years ago. Even on enemy grounds, my guess is Pearson would open as a -250 favorite over the hometown favorite, for his superior striking and solid takedown defense. Though, should the fight hit the mat, the Brazilian would hold a massive advantage over the Brit. I could see this fight being one-sided for Pearson, but I could also see it being very competitive. If Santos finds success with body-locks and trip takedowns, rather than going for traditional singles and doubles, things could really tilt in his favor. That said, should Pearson be -250, I would be looking at him for a possible two-way parlay.

Written by Gabe Killian

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