Preliminary Card Winners
Ernest Chavez vs. Rashid Magomedov: Chavez did well to get past the promising Yosdenis Cedeno, after Cedeno was able to get the better of several exchanges on the feet. Chavez got the split decision nod and his first UFC win in the process, and a fight with Rashid Magomedov makes a ton of sense going forward. Magomedov was also victorious in his UFC debut against Tony Martin, and both fighters will look to go 2-0 in the stacked lightweight division. It may be no more than a preliminary card filler, but both fighters have solid records and have got past the proverbial Octagon jitters, so it could be a fun one.
Erik Koch vs. Francisco Trinaldo: Erik Koch looked damn impressive in his UFC lightweight debut, moving up from featherweight after complaining about a difficult weight cut. He scored a first round TKO over UFC veteran Rafaello Oliveira, exhibiting some brutal ground and pound and announcing himself to the 155lbs weight class in dominating fashion. The key for the UFC is not to rush Koch, and give him a fight against a lightweight outside of the top 15 who is also coming off a win. One of the first that came to mind was Francisco Trinaldo, who was able to defeat Jesse Ronson at UFC Fight Night 36, albeit looked less impressive than past performances and barely got the nod. 4-2 in the UFC, Massaranduba has a passionate following back in his native Brazil and this fight would make sense for the upcoming Wanderlei vs. Sonnen card in May. This could easily be part of the main card for a ‘Fight Night’ event, and if Koch can get the win here, he’ll move on to bigger and better things. Slow and steady is the key.
Zach Makovsky vs. John Moraga: This was a tricky one to select, as Zach Makovsky beat a tough guy in Josh Sampo and looked superb in the process. I’d like to see the former Bellator champion have one more fight against a former title contender before going on to fight for the belt, and that man is John Moraga. With Bagautinov potentially next in line, Ian McCall booked, John Dodson injured and so on, Moraga seems the most logical option from a rankings standpoint. Moraga was unsuccessful in his shot at Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight belt, but a win over Makovsky would put him back on track for a rematch. Moraga is still a top ranked guy despite a sub-par performance in his last fight with Dustin Ortiz, and he has a lot to prove after that. The winner of this fight will advance, while the loser will be sent back to the bottom of the ladder.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Lucas Martins: This fight was supposed to happen at the UFC 170 event, after Sterling replaced the injured Bryan Caraway. However Lucas Martins was also taken out of the bout due to injury, and replaced by Cody Gibson. Sterling decisioned Gibson and showed some promise in the process, getting over the UFC jitters and showing off some flashy techniques along the way. I’d like to see this fight rebooked as both fighters have a ton of promise in the bantamweight division and should be ready at a similar time, but there are a few available fighters for Sterling that also make sense, Sergio Pettis being just one.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Renan Barao: Assuncao is the only viable contender for Barao’s belt at this point. Faber lost his shot at UFC 169, Cruz needs a comeback fight after a long layoff, McDonald suffered a loss in his last fight, Wineland is just one fight removed from his losing effort against Barao, and so on. After wins over TJ Dillashaw, Mike Easton and, most recently, Pedro Munhoz, Assuncao could pose a threat to the Brazilian champion and this should be booked next. Granted, Assuncao barely got past Dillashaw in a fight that I scored for the American, but six wins in a row is more than enough to get a shot in a bantamweight division that Barao has almost cleared out. I wouldn’t fancy Assuncao’s chances, but he is more than deserving of a fight with the dominant bantamweight title holder.
Alexis Davis vs. Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino: You probably looked at this and thought I was an idiot, and perhaps I am. But hopefully this will be better explained in the last slide. Alexis Davis got past Jessica Eye, but showed that she is still a little way off a shot at the title. She looked great in the second round and dominated ‘Evil’ Eye, but looked equally as sloppy as she did dominant in the first and third rounds, arguably losing each of them. She was tagged far too often and this is something that certainly needs work. Now, as for Cyborg, she has recently announced she is dropping down to 135lbs and will be coming for Ronda’s belt. Though she is yet to sign for the UFC, after parting ways with ex-manager Tito Ortiz, there is nothing to get in the way of a potential deal. Dana White has called for Cyborg to fight once or twice before receiving a shot at the belt, and Davis is a more-than viable contender after wins over Eye and Carmouche. A win for either fighter will get them a much deserved shot at the title, but until then I’d love to see this fight. However, this all depends on the last slide.