UFC Fight Night 46: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Conor McGregor's legend grew in front of his home fans in Ireland Saturday.
With a knockout against Diego Brandao, McGregor improved to 3-0 inside the Octagon. At 26 years old and with a magnetizing personality, McGregor has become a current and future star in the increasingly exciting featherweight division.
Having scored 13 knockouts in 15 career victories, McGregor is just as entertaining inside the cage as he is with a microphone in front of him. Already ranked No. 12 heading into the weekend, McGregor is on his way toward serious title contention.
Following another UFC fight card, here are the matchups that should be booked for all of the UFC Fight Night 46 competitors.
Preliminary Card Fighters
Preliminary Card Winners
|Ilir Latifi||Patrick Cummins vs. Kyle Kingsbury Winner|
|Neil Seery||Kyoji Horiguchi|
|Cathal Pendred||Trevor Smith|
|Trevor Smith||Cathal Pendred |
|Nikita Krylov||Antonio Carlos Jr.|
|Patrick Holohan||Richie Vaculik|
Preliminary Card Losers
|Chris Dempsey||Matt Van Buren|
|Phil Harris||None (Released)|
|Mike King||Brad Scott|
|Tor Troeng||Bubba Bush|
|Cody Donovan||None (Release)|
|Josh Sampo||Jon Delos Reyes|
Matchup: Akbarh Arreola vs. Tiago dos Santos loser
A 13-bout winning streak earned Naoyuki Kotani a spot on the UFC roster, but the Japanese lightweight's run came to an end Saturday.
Kotani is skilled on the ground with 25 career submissions, but that didn't stop Norman Parke from taking him down multiple times. After spending more than four minutes underneath Parke, Kotani was eventually stopped by the Irishman's ground-and-pound.
With a loss in his UFC debut, Kotani's next appearance will likely determine his future with the promotion. So, a bout with the loser of a July 26 matchup between fellow newcomers Akbarh Arreola and Tiago dos Santos seems likely.
Matchup: Alan Patrick
Northern Ireland's Parke turned in a solid performance in Ireland Saturday.
Facing a dangerous submission artist, Parke might have considered standing against Kotani. However, he did not shy away from going to the ground. On the contrary, he scored multiple takedowns and finished Kotani with strikes from the top position.
Having bounced back from a draw with Leonardo Santos, Parke is ready to face more experienced UFC opposition again. Alan Patrick, who controversially defeated John Makdessi in his latest outing, would be a good opponent for him now.
Matchup: John Moraga
Brad Pickett wasn't able to build on his 125-pound debut win over Neil Seery.
Facing an elite flyweight in Ian McCall, Pickett fell short on the scorecards. Surrendering three takedowns and landing 22 significant strikes, compared to the 56 landed by McCall, Pickett did not come close to remaining undefeated in his new weight division.
One of only two fighters to own a win over Demetrious Johnson, Pickett will have to wait for a rematch with the flyweight champion. Instead, he could meet John Moraga in a matchup that could produce some entertaining striking.
Matchup: John Dodson
Since suffering consecutive losses for the first time in his career against Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, McCall has rebounded well.
Facing a former bantamweight contender Saturday, Uncle Creepy walked away with a clear decision victory. McCall still has some work to do to prove he deserves a rematch with Mighty Mouse, but he's well on his way to another shot at the 125-pound championship.
A win over John Dodson, who would probably be lined up for his own rematch with Johnson had he not suffered a knee injury, might be enough for McCall. The Magician and Uncle Creepy should meet in early 2015 to determine which fighter gets another crack at the champion or whoever owns the belt by then.
Matchup: Nico Musoke
With wins in his first two UFC bouts, Zak Cummings earned a high-profile matchup with Gunnar Nelson.
Although it was a big opportunity for Cummings, he did not match up well with the high-level grappler stylistically. As many expected, Cummings was eventually submitted by Gunni in the second round.
Having also recently suffered his first loss inside the Octagon, Nico Musoke would be a logical opponent for Cummings as he looks to rebound.
Matchup: Rick Story
Nelson continues to deliver on the high expectations that have been set for him.
At UFC Fight Night 46, the 25-year-old took care of business against Cummings, who had not previously lost inside the Octagon. With a submission in the second stanza, Nelson improve his UFC record to 4-0, and three of those wins came via submission.
Rick Story would now be a solid test for Nelson. With a win over welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and having only been submitted by world-class grappler Demian Maia, Story will be a good measuring stick to determine whether Nelson is ready for the elite 170-pounders.
Matchup: Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz loser
Brandao stepped in for an injured Cole Miller, but he was not able to silence the Irish crowd Saturday.
Although he's now lost two in a row, Brandao still likely has a strong hold on a UFC roster position. His two losses came against top-15 lightweights McGregor and Dustin Poirier. So, the Brazilian's stock has not fallen much despite his slump.
Though he might be given a bigger step down in competition to get back into the win column, Brandao would get more attention in a bout with the loser of a September matchup between Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz while still having that chance to pick up the win.
Matchup: Dustin Poirier
Not long after knocking out Brandao, McGregor was already laying the groundwork for his next matchup.
Poirier got the ball rolling with a tweet Saturday that suggested he wanted to fight McGregor. The Irishman quickly accepted, according to MMAJunkie.com, though the matchup has obviously not been booked only one day following UFC Fight Night 46.
Both fighters have recent opening-round knockout wins over Brandao, and McGregor is due to be tested by a top-10 featherweight adversary. Given McGregor's rise in popularity, the matchup would also elevate The Diamond's recognition.