UFC 274: Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje – Fights to make

UFC 274 may have ended with a bang, but there was a whole lot of whimper along the way. Charles Oliveira made it clear that striking the belt or not, he was still the lightweight king. Meanwhile Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas put together one of the worst title fights in the history of the UFC. And while Michael Chandler picked up a highlight for KO for the ages, it did bring a serious feeling of dread to Tony Ferguson’s ongoing MMA career.

So, will either Oliveira or Chandler get the Conor McGregor fight they’re searching for? Should the UFC ever consider booking Namajunas vs. Esparza for a third time? Did Brandon Royval just throw himself into the flyweight title contender’s circle?

To answer those questions – and a whole lot more – I’ll be using the classic Silva / Shelby fight booking methodology from the UFC of years past. That means pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured talent up against one another. Hopefully, by following that model, a few of these bout ideas will actually make it off the page and into the Octagon. Now, let’s get to the fights!

CHARLES OLIVEIRA

Another tough fight, another decisive victory for Charles Oliveira. At this point, getting hurt and knocked down seems more like a death sentence than his opponent. It’s become a huge advantage for him, that being flat on his back, slightly dazed, brings exactly zero danger that someone will chase him with followup shots — no matter how big a puncher they are.

After racking up his 11th-straight victory Oliveira made a non-callout callout of Conor McGregor. I get it, the ‘red panty night’ thing still holds some sway over fighters in the lightweight and welterweight divisions. But, I’d be lying if I said it felt like any kind of reasonable booking. McGregor has just looked less like a dangerous title contender lately. Although it may not have the curb appeal of a McGregor / Gaethje / Poirier fight, Islam Makhachev really looks like the top contender for the lightweight title right now, especially with Dariush recently going down to injury. It’s also as close as we can get to the Khabib / Oliveira fight that we’d all loved to see. VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin Islam Makhachev is the lightweight title fight to make.

JUSTIN GAETHJE

All things considered, Justin Gaethje got exactly the fight he needed. Fast paced, chaotic, lots of chances to exchange in the pocket. Charles Oliveira simply did it all better. Once ‘Do Bronx’ gets rolling there is no safe place to hide, no outlet for constant pressure. He’s dangerous from the distance, he’s dangerous in the pocket, dangerous in the clinch, and dangerous on the mat. Gaethje’s extremely violent in his own right, but there were places Oliveira could take him that Gaethje didn’t want to go. The same couldn’t be said of the (stripped) champ.

There is still no doubting, however, that the ‘Highlight’ is a big problem for anyone who chooses to step in against the Octagon, and he has plenty of fun fights left that he can take. Rafael Fiziev and Rafael dos Anjos have a booking coming up, the winner would be a great matchup for Gaethje – especially if it happens to Fiziev. A Dustin Poirier rematch wouldn’t be a bad idea either, considering both men are coming off the same defeat. The other option I would see was a fight against Beneil Dariush, when he returns from injury. Since I don’t know when that will happen, I say FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Poirier 2 is the best booking for both men right now.

CARLA ESPARZA

Carla Esparza is a UFC champion again, I guess. What a miserable, god awful, painful title fight performance, not just from her but Rose Namajunas as well. The worst part is that it kills absolutely all the interest to see any kind of trilogy bout to make up for the complete lack of fight they just had. More than anything else, though, that means the upcoming fight between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk is unquestionably a no. 1 contender’s bout. The winner of that fight is going to be next in line for the title. VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin The Weili Zhang / Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2 winner is the only title to fight.

ROSE NAMAJUNAS

No idea what was going through Namajunas’ head. Every time she actually brought the fight to Esparza she seemed to come away with solid offense. But she did it with so little frequency that the judges couldn’t see a way to give her the win. A miserable performance from her in a fight she was usually expected to walk through. Jessica Andrade just snagged a big win. Time for a trilogy bout. FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Namajunas 3 will at least guarantee some actionGeneral Chat Chat Lounge Either that or the Loser vs. Zhang Jedrzejczyk.

MICHAEL CHANDLER

A crushing KO for Michael Chandler is expected after a rougher first round against Ferguson. It’s the kind of front kick that you would expect to see in a Chuck Norris movie; A full on field goal that blasted Ferguson’s soul into the astral plane. After the win, Chander had no shortage of callouts. Most notably he is called for rematches with either Charles Oliveira or Justin Gaethje, whoever comes out of the main event with their waist around the belt. But, if that doesn’t happen, he’ll have a provisional callout ready for a Conor McGregor fight in the welterweight division. I don’t know if McGregor wants any part of that, but I’d love to see him take it if he wants. Otherwise, the obvious fight to make would be against Islam Makhachev (or the Makhachev / Dariush winner, if that is the way the UFC wants to go). I ‘ll say the UFC should go with the McGregor idea, as it seems like a really fun booking. Otherwise, if the UFC gives up a ‘notorious’ title shot, book Chandler vs. Makhachev just for the wrestling chaos.

RANDY BROWN

It wasn’t the clean win Brown might have been hoping for, but he gutted through a couple of very bad spots to take over the bulk of the bout with his slick range strikes and powerful clinch knees. A hard-fought decision that sees ‘Rude Boy’ on three straight victories and chances headed for higher profile bouts. That could be a fight against Alex Morono, or maybe Lee Jingliang, but I like the idea of ​​a bout against Gunnar Nelson. Nelson was once one of the highest profile prospects in the welterweight division. Time and a few losses have dimmed that little, but he recently made a strong return, picking up a controlling decision over Takashi Sato. Brown may not be anything like Gunni’s level of grappler, but he also offers a whole different set of technical problems than what Nelson faced last time out. Seems like a good way to see if Brown can climb the top 15, and a great way to keep Nelson in the test is to see if he’s ready for another run. FC Twente vs. AZ Alkmaar Brown feels like a great test for both men.

FRANCISCO TRINALDO

I don’t care if it’s magic potion, a deal with the devil, or just a series of fitness DVDs, Francisco Trinaldo needs to let the world in on his anti-aging secret. Down in the middleweight division, fighters are not supposed to stay competitive this late in their careers. But here he is at 43-years-old absolutely taking every round from Danny Roberts at a UFC event in 2022. For a great win that should have everyone primed to see him in another feature action bout. And while I could list a bunch of different options — from guys like Tim Means and Matt Brown down to fighters like Mounir Lazzez and Sergey Khondozhko, there is a dude I absolutely want to see Trinaldo face. Alex Morono has carved out his own spot as a thrilling mid-card action talent at 170 lbs, a fight between him and ‘Massaranduba’ looks like it’d be guaranteed fun. FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Trinaldo is just the kind of fight I need to see in both of these guys.

BRANDON ROYVAL

When Brandon Royval is getting his fight, few athletes are more fun to watch. The man thrives in chaos, pushing a pace that even other flyweights find stress inducing. He may make a lot of mistakes on his way to a win, but he’ll force just as many out of his opponents. Matt Schnell had his chances for victory, but when he left his neck out for Royval, ‘Raw Dog’ pounced on it with a quickness.

That puts the Factory X fighter back on two straight wins after taking a couple hard losses, and it should put him in line for another top 5 flyweight fight. He called for a title shot, but I’d like to see him get one more victory. Unfortunately for him, two of them above him are the ones that gave him those back-to-back losses. Assuming that the UFC is still going forward with Moreno vs. Figueiredo 4 and that Kara-France is still next in line, Askar Askarov and Alex Perez have a bout coming up. The winner of that fight will make an excellent top contender’s match for the crown. Rayo Vallecano vs. Salamanca The Askarov / Perez winner looks like the best available next fight.

ANDRE FIALHO

For a minute or two, it seemed like Cameron VanCamp had some right ideas for facing Andre Fialho. Notably, he kept baiting the Portuguese fighter into wild exchanges and finding odd angles to land big hooks. But, that was always going to be a shockingly dangerous game plan against someone with the power and tight technique that Fialho possesses. One wild exchange too many and VanCamp was collapsing to the mat with his chin on his knees. Immediately after the bout Fialho asked the UFC to put him on the upcoming Singapore PPV card next month, and it sounds like he got his wish. Given the short turnaround I ‘ll pick him to fight someone that should have some close proximity for the fight. That could have been Jake Matthews or Song Kenan, but I love the idea of ​​Sergey Khondozhko. He spent plenty of time training at Tiger Muay Thai, looks like he could take a bout – and it’d be an awesome action fight. Livorno vs. Piacenza Sergey Khondozhko would be a banger.

OTHER BOUTS: Fulham vs. VfL Wolfsburg Carlos Diego Ferreira, FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Ed Herman, Ovince St. FC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Maxim Grishin, Khaos Williams vs. Ramazan EmeevVs. Danny Roberts Mickey Gall, Macy Chiasson vs. Mayra Bueno SilvaFC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Leah Letson, Rayo Vallecano vs. Salamanca David Dvorak, Blagoy Ivanov vs. Sergey Spivak, Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Jake Collier, Vs. Cameron VanCamp Yohan Lainesse, Tracy Cortez vs. Miranda Maverick, Grosseto vs. Reggina Luana Carolina, Kleydson Rodrigues vs. Victor AltamiranoCJ Vergara vs. VfL Wolfsburg Francisco Figueiredo, Ariane Carnelossi vs. Kanako Murata, Lupita Godinez vs. Luana Pinheiro, Journey Newson vs. Mario BautistaFC Twente vs. SC Heerenveen Jay Perrin

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