Matches to Make after UFC 218
UFC 218 was headlined by Holloway vs. Aldo 2 in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday, December 2. It was one of the best events of the year with nine of thirteen bouts ending inside the distance. With the night of action now in our rear view, let's take a look at some potential match-ups featuring a few of the competitors from the evening...
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega/Cub Swanson Winner
Holloway had little trouble getting his second straight win over legendary featherweight Jose Aldo forcing a referee stoppage once again in the third round. Holloway used his post-fight speech to welcome all “cupcakes” new and old to face him. In a division that is wide open below him, it’s basically an open challenge. I believe a matchup with the winner of the UFC Fight Night 123 main event between Brian Ortega and Cub Swanson is the most likely next matchup for the featherweight champion. Ortega presents an interesting challenge because of his aggressive submission game. Ortega has the ability to latch on chokes from a variety of positions that would provide a new opportunity or as Holloway puts it a new cupcake for him. An old cupcake would be Cub Swanson. Should Swanson beat Ortega, he’d have five straight wins in the UFC and would be deserving of an opportunity to avenge his 2015 loss to Holloway. While I believe Frankie Edgar is the rightful number contender in this division, recent injuries make me believe it will be Ortega or Swanson who will get the next crack at Holloway.
Tecia Torres vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Torres defeated Michelle Waterson via decision after taking over in the final round in what was a relatively close contest through two minutes. Torres has quietly won six fights in the UFC and has gone under the radar despite being ranked in the top five of the division. A potential number one contender matchup with Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz I believe should be booked in spring 2018. Both fighters are skilled strikers and would be a nice chess match on the feet. Furthermore, both of these fighters hold a win over champion Rose Namajunas. The winner of this top contender fight would make for an easy to market matchup against the champion.
Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta
Felder was able to go into Charles Oliveira’s world on the mat and come out with a win. Sure, there were some nervous moments in this bout for him as Oliveira looked to secure some submissions on the mat. Felder eventually got top position and was able to reign down ground and pound to earn a stoppage win. For his efforts against a difficult opponent, Felder deserves to be placed a matchup against another striker that would be sure to entertain. Felder called out Al Iaquinta in his post-fight interview and I think that’s the matchup to make. These fighters both want to stand and trade punches and kicks. No matter who wins, there is an opportunity for both fighters to cash in by putting on an entertaining fight of the night performance. With both of these fighters from the northeast, I’d like to see this bout added to a 2018 fight card either in that region as the fan base would respond nicely to that contest.