Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night 125

By Brian Knapp Feb 4, 2018

Rarely has there been such a glaring and unsettling skill discrepancy in the modern Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Former bantamweight title contender Valentina Shevchenko was ruthless and clinical in her debut at 125 pounds, as she annihilated Parana Vale Tudo prospect Priscila Cachoeira in the UFC Fight Night 125 co-main event on Saturday at Guilherme Paraense Arena in Belem, Brazil. Cachoeira tapped to a rear-naked choke 4:25 into the second round, this after being drawn and quartered for the better part of nine minutes.

The FightMetric statistics defy belief. Shevchenko connected on 84 percent of the significant strikes she attempted and outlanded the previously unbeaten Brazilian by a startling 230-3 margin in total strikes. It was a flawless performance if there ever was one. Shevchenko did the vast majority of her damage on the ground, where she punished Cachoeira with punches and elbows, one of which drew blood -- and copious amounts of it -- in the first round.

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Anders,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

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Valentina Shevchenko vs. Nicco Montano:

Shevchenko could not have made a stronger opening argument in her move to the fledgling flyweight division. The 29-year-old Kyrgyz recorded her seventh career submission win against the overmatched Cachoeira and planted her flag near the top of the 125-pound weight class. Shevchenko now owns a 4-2 mark in the UFC, with decision defeats to reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes accounting for her only two setbacks. Montano captured the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight crown with a unanimous decision over Roxanne Modafferi at “The Ultimate Fighter 26” Finale on Dec. 1.

Lyoto Machida vs. Vitor Belfort:

Given up for dead following consecutive losses to Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson, Machida thumbed his nose at detractors in the UFC Fight Night 125 headliner and walked away with a split decision over the undefeated Eryk Anders. “The Dragon” survived a nasty vertical gash between his eyes and offset three Anders takedowns by landing nearly twice as many significant strikes as the former University of Alabama linebacker. Scores were 48-47 and 49-46 for Machida, 48-47 for Anderson. The victory was the Brazilian’s first since he cut down C.B. Dollaway with a body kick in December 2014. Belfort last competed at UFC 212 on June 3, when he took a unanimous decision from Nate Marquardt.

Thiago Santos vs. Paulo Henrique Costa:

Santos is not a comfortable matchup for anyone in the middleweight division. The American Top Team-trained Brazilian made Anthony Smith his latest victim, as he put away the former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder with a second-round body kick and follow-up punches. Santos, 34, has pieced together a four-fight winning streak since he lost back-to-back bouts to Gegard Mousasi and Eric Spicely in 2016. Costa moved to 11-0 at UFC 217 on Nov. 4, when he disposed of Johny Hendricks with punches in the second round of their encounter at Madison Square Garden in New York. He has finished all 11 of his opponents, nine of them in the first round.

Alan Patrick Silva Alves vs. Islam Makhachev:

In his first appearance in some 16 months, Alves shook off the rust and cruised to a unanimous decision over Damir Hadzovic on the undercard. The 34-year-old X-Gym representative and former Bitetti Combat champion has quietly amassed a 5-1 record in the UFC -- Mairbek Taisumov was responsible for his only loss -- and will carry a three-fight winning streak into his next appearance. One of the lightweight division’s true blue-chip prospects, Makhachev last fought at UFC 220 on Jan. 20, when he knocked out Gleison Tibau in just 57 seconds.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Magomed Bibulatov-Yuta Sasaki winner:

Figueiredo remained undefeated and did so in style, taking care of Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Morales with second-round punches. Since arriving in the UFC in June, the 30-year-old flyweight has beaten Morales, Jarred Brooks and Marco Beltran -- three men who had a combined record of 30-4 when he fought them. Now, Figueiredo finds himself in position to hunt bigger game at 125 pounds. A former World Series of Fighting champion, Bibulatov will lock horns with Sasaki at UFC Fight Night 128 on April 21 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


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