Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night Doubleheader

By Brian Knapp Nov 20, 2016
Ryan Bader and Gegard Mousasi could not have performed any better in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s main-event limelight.

Bader savaged Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in their UFC Fight Night 100 rematch, as he forged a third-round stoppage against the inhumanly durable Pride Fighting Championships veteran on Saturday at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Meanwhile, Mousasi took care of business in his second meeting with Uriah Hall in the UFC Fight Night 99 headliner, dispatching the two-time Ring of Combat champion with first-round punches at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

A replacement for the injured Alexander Gustafsson, Bader exploited the holes in Nogueira’s takedown defense -- he executed all five of his attempts, according to FightMetric data -- and blasted the Brazilian with damaging, elbow-laced ground-and-pound. Nogueira finally broke 3:51 into Round 3, having absorbed 129 total strikes, 86 of them significant.

Across the Atlantic, Mousasi avenged his shocking September 2015 defeat to Hall with a clean and efficient kill. “The Dreamcather” leaned on a punishing jab, evaded the spinning attacks for which Hall has become known and delivered a takedown in the final minute of Round 1. He then pinned Hall at the base of the cage and tied up his near-side leg and far-side wrist before unleashing a volley of right hands that necessitated action from referee Marc Goddard.

In wake of UFC Fight Night 100 “Bader vs. Nogueira 2” and UFC Fight Night 99 “Mousasi vs. Hall 2,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Ryan Bader vs. Daniel Cormier-Anthony Johnson winner: Bader’s persistence may soon pay off, much like Michael Bisping at 185 pounds. The two-time NCAA All-American wrestler won for the seventh time in eight outings and became just the second fighter -- Mauricio Rua is the other -- to defeat Nogueira twice. Bader, 33, now owns a stellar 15-4 mark in the UFC, and with Gustafsson and Jon Jones out of the picture for the time being, he has surfaced as the most logical No. 1 contender at 205 pounds. Better yet for Bader, the bout with Nogueira marked the completion of his current contract with the UFC, making him an immediate free agent. Cormier will defend the undisputed light heavyweight championship against Johnson in the UFC 206 main event on Dec. 10.

Gegard Mousasi vs. Derek Brunson-Robert Whittaker winner: A former Strikeforce, Dream and Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder, Mousasi righted one of the few wrongs on his UFC resume by dispatching Hall with punches 4:37 into the first round. The 31-year-old Iranian-born Dutchman has rattled off four consecutive victories, the last three of them finishes, and remains a problem for virtually any middleweight at or near the top of the division. Brunson and Whittaker will square off in the UFC Fight Night 101 headliner on Nov. 26 in Melbourne, Australia.

Thomas Almeida vs. Jimmie Rivera: Almeida rebounded from his May 29 knockout loss to Cody Garbrandt in spectacular fashion, as he wiped out the previously unbeaten Albert Morales with second-round punches in their co-main event barnburner. Easily one of the most entertaining fighters on the UFC roster, the budding 25-year-old Chute Boxe star withstood Morales’ advances in the first round before stopping him with a breathtaking volley of power punches 1:37 into the second. Rivera continues to fly under the radar at 135 pounds despite a gaudy 20-1 record and a 19-fight winning streak that includes a unanimous decision victory over Team Alpha Male patriarch Urijah Faber at UFC 203.

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Jussier da Silva: Horiguchi with each appearance puts more and more distance between himself and his April 2015 submission loss to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. The former Shooto titleholder captured a unanimous verdict from Ali Bagautinov in his latest outing, as he outstruck the two-time combat sambo world champion across three rounds. Horiguchi, 26, has won 12 of his past 13 fights, his defeat to “Mighty Mouse” the only blemish. Da Silva last appeared at a UFC Fight Night event on Sept. 24 in Brasilia, Brasil, where he was a unanimous decision winner over Dustin Ortiz.

Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza: No one at 115 pounds wants to face Gadelha. Having thrown out her anchor at Luttrell’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt bounced back from her loss to UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a unanimous decision over Cortney Casey. The victory improved Gadelha to 3-2 inside the Octagon and kept her on track for another potential rematch with Jedrzejczyk down the road. In the meantime, the 27-year-old has no shortage of options. Esparza returned from an injury-induced layoff at UFC 197 on April 23, when she outpointed Juliana Lima across three rounds. Her only career defeats have come against Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Aguilar and the great Megumi Fujii.

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