Post-UFC 174 Matchmaking Predictions

Yves JabouinUFC 174 came and went, leaving many fans and viewers unpleased. While it was not an entertaining card, it did leave me with some potential fights to think about. Here are my matchmaking predictions for last nights competitors… Kiichi Kunimoto vs Brandon Thatch I think this would make for an excellent match-up in the UFC’s welterweight division. Thatch took some time off from the cage after back-to-back first round finishes of Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago in his first two Octagon appearances. The RFA-veteran should be ready to return to action, and I feel this bout makes plenty of sense for him. Much like Thatch, Kunimoto has also picked up two first round victories in his only two Octagon appearances, the latest of which came in a big upset at last night’s UFC 174 in Vancouver, where he took down the Brazilian-Armenian Daniel Sarafian, and sunk in a rear naked choke to earn the tap from the Jiu-Jitsu black belt. It was a big from for the veteran Kunimoto, and I feel a fight against Thatch is the proper slight step up in competition for him, and I think this match would be a perfect fit for the UFC’s trip to Saitama, Japan this September for a UFC Fight Night that will be headlined by a heavyweight bout in the form of Mark Hunt vs Roy Nelson. Kunimoto would have a size and wrestling advantage, but Thatch will be the superior striker. Kunimoto was a big underdog against Sarafian, but I don’t think he will be disrespected again by the oddsmakers after that dominant performance. That said, I would still expect the much-hyped Brandon Thatch to open as a -160 favorite over Kunimoto in his native Japan. Kunimoto being big in size, tough, and a solid grappler, I would not be surprised to see people taking him at underdog odds, especially considering the fact that he is the type of fighter who would give it his all and fight his heart out in front of the Japanese fans. Demetrious Johnson vs John Dodson II Dodson is now 2-0 with two finishes since his failed shot at Johnson and his 125-pound strap. In an extremely thin division, that puts him in line for rematch with the Champion. Of all of Johnson’s successful title defenses, it was Dodson who came closest to defeating. Dodson hurt the champ in the first two rounds, ultimately winning both rounds, but failing to win the last three en route to a unanimous decision loss. Johnson’s cardio was the difference in that bout, and Dodson claims to have made improvements in that department, though we have yet to see him out of the second round since the initial Johnson fight. Though I’m not excited about this fight, I think it will be a solid rematch, and we could likely see the title finally exchange hands. Yves Jabouin vs Chris Holdsworth This fight will be a very serious test for Holdsworth, and it will be a fight in which Jabouin is playing the role of “gatekeeper”. Holdsworth went to a decision for the first time in his professional Mixed Martial Arts career in his last outing, when he was unable to finish his opponent Chico Camus. Jabouin is a step up in competition from Camus and arguably tougher to finish, so it will be interesting to see how the Team Alpha Male product fares against the veteran. Jabouin last saw action on his home turf at last night’s UFC 174, outpointing and outwrestling Mike Easton en route to a 29-28 unanimous decision victory on the judges’ scorecards. This bantamweight scrap would be a good fit for September’s UFC 178 in Toronto, which would also make the fight twice as difficult for Holdsworth. Though fighting on enemy territory against a superior striker with solid takedown defense, I think Holdsworth would still be the favorite in this match-up, likely opening at -150 or possibly closer to -200, in which case I could see money coming in on the underdog. Jabouin is a fighter I could see Holdsworth having trouble with. He isn’t easy to take down, and on the feet he will be too technical for Holdsworth. It is possible he could underperform in front of the Canadian crowd and lose a 30-27 decision. If he can get past Jabouin, especially on the veteran’s home turf, then that in itself will be a solid statement made by the bantamweight, and could be just what he needs to get close to cracking into that top 15. Rory MacDonald vs Winner of Lombard/Kim This is not much of a prediction, as it was already rumored that the winner of MacDonald vs Woodley would face the winner of Lombard vs Kim. Last night, MacDonald defeated Woodley via unanimous decision at UFC 174 in his native Vanoucer, B.C., Canada. Looks like we will have to wait two months to find out who his opponent will be, and we likely won’t see this match-up take place until early 2015; December, at the earliest. Lombard and Kim will face off in Macau, China in a three round co-main event at UFC Fight Night 48. Brendan Schaub vs Travis Browne Big Brown vs Happa Browne – I love this fight. “Happa” came up short in a unanimous decision against Fabricio Werdum a few weeks ago, and “Big Brown” lost a very controversial split decision to Andrei Arlovski at last night’s UFC 174. This match-up would make sense for Schaub even if he were coming off a win, but the fact that it’s technically a loser vs loser match-up makes slightly more sense. This would be a fight between two heavyweights who throw bombs that could end at any second, but Browne is superior on the feet and packs more power. That fact combined with Schaub’s chin issues in the past is the reason why I guess that Browne would open as a -400 favorite in this match-up, and likely get bet to -600 immediately. Schaub would have the advantage in the submission game, but taking Browne down could prove to be an impossible task. It is worth noting that Browne trains out of Jackson’s MMA, the same camp Arlovski fights out of. This fight could also be a way for Schaub to seek revenge on what he feels was a terribly robbery, and a big upset over “Happa” would be the perfect way “Big Brown” to do it. I would love to see this fight on the main card for November’s UFC 180 in Mexico City, which will be headlined by a heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Browne’s most recent foe, Fabricio Werdum.  

Written by Gabe Killian

Leave a Reply

Surprises & Disappointments From UFC 174

UFC 174’s Top Performers: And the Bonus Goes to…