Fights to Make After UFC 244: Handicapping Potential Matchups for the Winners

Fights to Make After UFC 244: Handicapping Potential Matchups for the Winners

UFC 244 was an outstanding UFC pay per view. The ending was a bit anticlimactic with the cut stoppage in the Diaz vs Masvidal main event but the event as a whole was great.

Maybe I’m a little giddy and biased because we went 13-1 on our picks including the prop bets!

Only the Johnny Walker vs Corey Anderson fight slipped away from us.

Looking back, Anderson held excellent value at (+130). He’s a tall guy who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and Walker has been preying on fighters much shorter than him recently.

Not so much wrestling from Corey but merely the threat thereof proved to be the difference in the battle. It was only the first round and Anderson didn’t even need to land a takedown. He knew Johnny Walker had been in Russia preparing for the takedowns and would be sensitive to such.

That’s when the man from Rockford, Illinois hit that level change to the overhand right taking advantage of what has been proven in the past to be a weak chin that is rarely tucked.

The level change signifies a takedown attempt. That brought both of Johnny’s arms down to defend with underhooks and left his jaw exposed for a beautifully timed right hand.

The level change pairs perfectly with the overhand and is a staple of mixed martial arts techniques.

Who will Corey fight next? Jon Jones? I don’t know but if he did, I would give him a pretty decent chance at winning. Maybe (+225). That sounds like a lot to some but for Jon Jones’ opponents, it’s pretty good.

In the Main Event:

Jorge Masvidal dominated Nate Diaz for the inaugural BMF title.

The fight was stopped because of a long deep cut above the right eye of Diaz caused by a monstrous first round lateral elbow from the Miami slugger. I was as upset as anyone at the stoppage. The New York athletic commission is a hot mess at best.

This is what happens when you outlaw MMA for umpteen years. When it’s finally approved, you’re light-years behind the times of the fastest growing sport in the world.

In all likelihood, Nate Diaz was going to lose that fight but he is a championship round fighter with enough endurance to fight to the death every time. Sadly, I don’t think we will see the rematch anytime soon.

21-year-old Edmen Shahbazyan made quick work of a very durable veteran in Brad Tavares.

Israel Adesanya wasn’t able to stop the Hawaiin but the kid did it with ease. I think it’s time to start buying that hype.

Stephen Thompson pretty much cruised to a victory over Vincente Luque. Wonderboy took some good shots but was never phased and the basic slow footwork of the Brazilian remained a step behind the South Carolinian all night.

In the Co-Main Event:

Darren Till made his middleweight debut against Kelvin Gastelum. I would say that’s a tall task but Kelvin is like 5’8” in boots.

Till, on the other foot, is 6’2” and could fight at light heavyweight. I still have no idea how the man made welterweight.

It was Gastelum, though, who needed help making weight. In a veteran/sly move, he kindly placed his elbow upon his coach’s shoulder and weighed in at 184. That’s two pounds under the limit. If he was two pounds under, why did he need to strip down naked and use a towel?

Hmmm…

Good job New York athletic commission!

Great card still!

Let’s get to handicapping some potential fights to make after UFC 244.

Hakeem Dawodu vs Sodiq Yusuff

This one was just too easy. Well, picking the winner may be slightly more difficult.

These two are mirror images of each other, nearly. Dawodu had a clean win for us last week at (-126) over Julio Arce.

Super Sodiq was around (-350) in his last fight, so I stayed away. His power proved too much for the sharp-handed southpaw Gabriel Benitez.

Both men have about the same build. I think Sodiq may be a little bigger, though. I definitely think he has the power advantage too.

Anytime you have two men with the same styles fight one another, if one is clearly better than the other then picking a winner is usually a slam dunk.

There are exceptions, of course, like Georges St Pierre and Jon Jones but they are two of the top five fighters of all time.

If these two are matched up, I think the top UFC sportsbooks will put Yusuff at (-180) and Hakeem at (+140).

Sodiq Yusuff (-280) vs Hakeem Dawodu (+235)

Katlyn Chookagian vs Valentina Shevchenko

The champ needs challengers!

I don’t think Katlyn is championship material at 125 but who is?

Maycee Barber is the only woman in the top ten who I think has any shot at defeating Shevchenko. She is back at #10 right now. I assume that will change shortly after her recent shellacking of Gillian Robertson in the first round.

I would say Barber vs Valentina but the UFC needs to build up the former so that they can properly sell this fight. If they rush it, casual fans will just see another easy win for Valentina. They could have Katlyn fight Maycee but that’s #10 vs #1 who just came off of a win.

If you’re #1 and you just won, I feel like a title fight will be next for said contender.

How do they match up, though? Katlyn has great size and decent power for strawweight but the Women’s 125-pound weight class’s power meter can only go so high. There are considerably fewer knockouts in this division than say the 185-pound division.

It’s not sexist. It’s just physics. Valentina is a killer and Katlyn’s movement is robotic at best.

Sorry, guys. At this point, Mr. Ed is dead.

Valentina Shevchenko (-900) vs Katlyn Chookagain (+650)

Edmen Shahbazyan vs Uriah Hall

Edmen is barely old enough to drink and he’s out here ranked in the top ten of the UFC.

If the company is smart, I don’t believe they will rush things with him. If he’s been a cocky arrogant butthead towards UFC president Dana White, then yea maybe throw him to Yoel Romero.

I saw where some writers are calling for the matchup between him and Jack Hermansson. Jack is coming off of a loss to Jared Cannonier where he couldn’t secure the takedown and quickly fell victim to the power of the former heavyweight from Alaska.

I think the success of Hermansson is important enough to the company that they should actually protect him from Edmen, not the other way around.

In My Opinion:

Both men should face a guy they match up well with stylistically and they would likely be favored by the online betting sites when the lines were released.

Uriah Hall is an adept of a striker as any contender in the division but would likely open as an underdog to Shahbazyan. Uriah is also a longtime teammate of Edmen’s most recent victim Brad Tavares.

That makes for a good story and with Hall coming off of an upset win himself, I think this could be the main event on a Fight Night event.

Edmen Shahbazyan (-145) Uriah Hall (+115)

Breaking News: Jair Rozenstruik to Replace Walt Harris vs Alistair Overeem

Walt Harris was set to fight the legendary Alistair Overeem in the upcoming card from Washington DC. There aren’t a lot of big names fighting that night so this one was very important to the show’s success.

Unfortunately:

Walt Harris’s teenage daughter has been missing for weeks now and he is obviously in no mental state to take a fight. The entire MMA community among others are hoping and praying that she is found unharmed. The reward for information leading to her whereabouts is already above 100,000 dollars thanks in part to 50k from Dana White.

As far as this matchup goes, it’s hard to say because Arlovski is a guy whose chin is gone and Jair made quick work of The Pitbull.

Alistair’s chin is in the double digits of documented professional fight concussions as well but the undersized Rozenstruik will have a harder time with The Reem due to his varied striking skillset.

Arlovski is a boxer while The Reem utilizes his kicks and knees much better than his hands. He also can take Jair down and finish the fight with some gravy ground and pound.

Alistair Overeem (-175) vs Jair Rozenstruik (+140)

Corey Anderson vs The Winner of Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes

I already spoke of how Anderson made quick work of Walker. After the fight, he said he wanted to be released from the organization if he wasn’t granted an immediate title shot. He later retracted that statement and said Reyes could get the first bite at the champ but he wanted the winner. I think that’s even better.

He can sit back and hopefully let Dom Reyes expose a few more holes in the game of the champ. Assuming JJ will win because that’s all he’s ever done, I will handicap him and Anderson.

Corey is like a Jon Jones clone in a way. He hasn’t shown nearly the striking variance of his potential foe but wrestling for wrestling, I think he can hang.

This one would most likely play out on the feet. Anderson came into MMA with a very limited, albeit highly effective skill set of high level wrestling, good submission defense, and relatively safe striking on his feet.

Since he came into the UFC with such a high wrestling pedigree, he has had years and years to work on the rest of his game and if Saturday night’s performance is any inclination of his progress, then watch out.

JJ is JJ, though.

Jon Jones (-275) vs Corey Anderson (+220)

Kevin Lee vs Paul Felder

I know Paul wouldn’t be happy with this seeing as he recently came out yesterday and said he wants Poirier, Gaethje, or McGregor in his next fight.

I think he gets smoked by the latter two and actually like the matchup with Dustin Poirier because DP could use a win coming off such an emotional loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Kevin Lee looked phenomenal against Gregor Gillespie on Saturday taking advantage of the wrestling/boxing stylist’s bladed stance.

He slipped to the inside of the jab while simultaneously landing the overhand right. Since GG was already bladed and half sideways, the punch turned his entire body completely to Kevin’s left.

Lee followed up the big right by flowing right into a full step to load the left kick and we got full shin to chin contact and that’s a wrap.

Lee matches up great with Felder too. Even though Paul is a Muay Thai stylist and won’t make the same mistake as the bladed Gillespie, he lacks the takedown defense, in my opinion, to stop the blast double of Lee.

You really need to have wrestling as your base to do so and Paul does not. The lines would be close and it could headline a smaller card easily.

Kevin Lee (-130) vs Paul Felder (+110)

Breaking News: Derrick Lewis verbally agrees to fight Curtis Blaydes

I love Derrick Lewis. He’s a funny dude but I think he went a little too far with whatever he was saying about Blagoy Ivanov in his post fight interview. I picked Lewis and it was a very close decision but he landed the bigger shots and Ivanov failed to dish out punishment when he was in dominant positions.

Lewis STILL looks like a complete amateur when he is going for a knockout. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him swing so wildly in the 10+ fights I’ve watched in his career. He has a great coach who has a base in Muay Thai and produces some of the most technical Thai fighters in America.

DL don’t care, though. His wildness does carry a level of aggression and unpredictability that is unmatched in the UFC. At heavyweight, you have to at least respect it.

Curtis Blaydes, though… He is the bigger man and the far far far more superior wrestler with 10x the level of conditioning.

The lines aren’t out on this one yet but I’m jumping all over them. Blaydes by a million!

Curtis Blaydes (-450) vs Derrick Lewis (+335)

Stephen Thompson vs Santiago Ponzinibbio

Another Brazilian striker who moves forward for Wonderboy to pick off?

Sure, why not? I don’t think the decision will go the same way, though.

Thompson took a lot of punches to the grill on Saturday. He didn’t drop, of course, but I don’t think he can take the same punches from Santiago. Stephen has been dropped several times before and I think Ponzinibbio possesses just a little too much power.

I don’t think they will give Thompson Leon Edwards because he already has the beef with Masvidal and they are just waiting for the right time to make that fight.

This one is a win/win for the promotion. Wonderboy has a big name and following and they don’t really want Santiago to have the same unless he earns it which I think he will.

Santiago Ponzinibbio (-138) vs Stephen Thompson (+118)

Darren Till vs Jared Cannonier

Does Darren Till ever catch a break? He gets Kelvin Gastelum in his first fight at middleweight and now he’s in the top five. He’s a competitor so I know he’s happy but there won’t be any easy fights from here on out.

The previously mentioned Cannonier is coming off of a main event victory of Jack Hermansson.

This is a potential fight where Till may actually fight someone his own size. Jared isn’t tall but boy is he thick and ripped after coming down from heavy then light heavyweight.

As much as I love Till’s Thai style, I think Jared’s threat of a takedown may create that half of an inch he needs to press that button we have seen help the Liverpool native go night night.

Jared Cannonier (-144) vs Darren Till (+125)

Jorge Masvidal vs Conor McGregor

Yes! Please make this fight!

Neither man is interested in any type of lay and pray and/or wall and stall tactics. Both men are as crafty as they are fast.

Jorge would like to go after the title belt and fight the winner of his former friend Covington and champion Kamaru Usman but I think he would like the Conor fight even more.

Why? Well, what’s the answer to just about every question on this earth today? Just follow the… MONEY!

Like McGregor says, tell your wife to break out the red panties. If you fight Conor, you’re rich. And that’s even truer because it will be his first fight back. McGregor has hinted at fighting Cowboy Cerrone who I think he would smoke like a Mad Man in the first round.

The Irishman said January 18th. That would only give Masvidal a couple of months but I don’t believe he’s injured unless he broke a metatarsal on Nate’s face.

They could make the fight with Leon Edwards but the fans just don’t know about the Brit yet.

The time for McGregor and the reincarnation of Al Pacino’s Scarface to fight is now!

The online sportsbook BetOnline actually has betting odds out right now and Jorge is the favorite.

Masvidal (-150) vs McGregor (-105)… I disagree. Jorge is on an absolute roll right now and he’s doing it with speed, precision, and confidence.

These are three attributes that McGregor executes at a higher level than probably anyone.

Until someone can outbox the man, he’s getting my money.

Conor McGregor (-160) vs Jorge Masvidal (+135)

In Conclusion

Man, UFC 244 was fun! If you bet my picks, then it was even more thrilling.

I can’t guarantee 13-1 every week. I normally try to snipe my picks but these fighters were guys and gals I was quite familiar with and I just happen to be confident on most of them.

Who are the winners going to fight next? For most of them, we still don’t know but I thought it would be fun for you guys and me as well to play matchmaker and bookmaker as well.

It’s always wise to handicap the fights yourself before you pick them, sometimes before you even see the odds because they can easily influence your assessment.

I’m sure not all of these potential matchups will happen but let’s hope a few of them hit.

I hope you walk away from this read with a little more knowledge of the MMA game and the betting game as well.

Both are very hard but from experience, I can honestly say betting on a fight is much easier than actually doing it.

Mike Pruitt / author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.