UFC 168 made us cheer and cringe as it came and went this past weekend (Dec. 28, 2013). Now that the final fight card of the year has concluded, here are some potential match-ups I would be interested in seeing for the winners of the evening… Robbie “Problems” Peralta vs Jimy “The Kid” Hettes – Peralta bounced back with a come from behind knockout victory against Estevan Payan in the very first fight of the evening at UFC 168. Payan took the first two rounds, and between rounds two and three, Peralta’s corner instructed him to get back out there and finish the fight. He did just that 12 seconds into the start of the third round. Hettes is coming off of a second round submission victory over Robert Whiteford two months ago, and I think this is a match-up between two featherweights that recently got back on the win column that makes plenty of sense and could be really fun to watch. Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier vs Dennis Siver – This would be a featherweight match-up between two former lightweights who each came out of UFC 168 with a victory. Poirier dismantled and TKO’d Diego Brandao late in the first round of action, while Siver took two out of three rounds unanimously in a judges’ decision against Manny Gamburyan. Poirier and Siver share another thing in common, and that is the fact that their most recent loss came at the hands of the same person: Cub Swanson. Swanson took a unanimous decision over Poirier, and scored a third round TKO stoppage over Siver. Both men have since returned to the win column, and are climbing their way up the UFC’s featherweight ladder. I think pitting them against each other makes good sense, and should move the winner into the circle of contenders for the 145 gold. John “Doomsday” Howard vs Sergio Moraes – After returning to the Octagon as a middleweight on short notice, and picking up a split decision against Uriah Hall in front of his hometown crowd, Howard opted to move back down to welterweight. He is now 2-0 since his return, as he picked up a convincing 30-27 unanimous decision victory over the likely soon to be released Siyar “The Killer” Bahadurzada. Moraes is coming off of an impressive first round submission victory over Neil Magny at UFC 163 nearly five months ago. I think this is a very interesting match-up, and not a very easy one to predict. Howard is a bit of a step-up for Moraes, but could the Brazilian get the fight to the mat? And suppose he does, will he be able to submit him? Will Howard be able to defend takedowns and outstrike Moraes, and maybe beat him up against the cage? I could already see this fight happening, and playing out several different ways. Neither are fighters I am anxiously awaiting to see inside the Octagon again, but this is a match-up I would be tuned in for with full interest. William Macario vs Zak Cummings – This is another fight that people won’t be anticipating to see, but it is one that makes sense for both parties. Macario showed great improvement in skill and cardio, as he defeated the veteran Bobby Voelker via unanimous decision at UFC 168. Cummings himself looked impressive in his promotional debut four months ago, submitting Ben Alloway with a d’arce choke in the very first round of action. A former middleweight, Cummings would have the size advantage over the 22-year old Brazilian. This would be a preliminary fight between two Octagon warriors looking to move up the ladder in the UFC’s welterweight division. A win over Cummings would earn Macario a more accomplished opponent, and the same case could be made for Cummings. While it’s not a fight that I will go out of my way to see, it is one I don’t see being boring, even if Cummings tries to wrestle. Jim Miller vs Michael Johnson – This is a match-up that pits two lightweights together who were both successful in their bouts at UFC 168 this past weekend. After defending takedown attempts and outstriking Gleison Tibau in the first round, Johnson ended the fight in the second with an incredibly impressive knockout. His work with Henri Hooft at the Blackzillians camp in Boca Raton, F.L. continues to prove valuable and paid dividends. Miller himself scored a stoppage, as he impressively submitted Fabricio Camoes with an armbar in the very first frame. For Miller and Johnson, each of their second-to-last victories came against the same fighter; Joe Lauzon. Lauzon took both of them all the way to the judges’ scorecards, though both times he came up very short, losing three rounds to none. Should this fight be booked, I would expect Miller to be open as at least a two-to-one favorite, and possibly be bet closer to three-to-one. However, I think Johnson would be a live dog. Wrestling has been Johnson’s weakness in the past, and while he has shown improvement in that department, I think Miller would be the best wrestler he’s faced, and it would be interesting to see how that chess match plays out, especially against the cage. Miller vs Johnson is a lightweight match-up I would personally love to see, and definitely one that I would try not to miss. Uriah Hall vs Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira – This is a match-up between two middleweights who were finalists in their seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, each of them being a heavy favorite in their bouts. Except, it is just “Mutante” who got his hand raised, as Hall fell short in a split-decision to fellow finalist Kelvin Gastelum. After coming up short in another split-decision against John Howard, Hall finally pulled it together and picked up a TKO over Chris Leben at UFC 168, sending “The Crippler” into retirement. I think this is an interesting match-up, and would think Ferreira would be a reasonable favorite here, considering his grappling advantage. I see this is being an exciting fight that ends by either knockout or submission, and likely in the first round.
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