Let's take a look at some potential matchups for the big winners at UFC Halifax.
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Derrick Lewis vs. Mark Hunt
Give the man what he’s asking for! Who cares if Mark Hunt is fighting Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 in a few weeks? Pull him off the card and put these two on the Dallas card in May.
All jokes aside, there are few more entertaining matchups than Derrick Lewis vs. Mark Hunt. There’s a 100 percent chance these two heavy handed sluggers, who both fight at the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds, would meet in the middle of the Octagon and exchange leather for as long as physically possible.
Hunt is likely in store for much bigger things if he gets past third-ranked Alistair Overeem, but maybe the loser of that fight should get the pleasure of facing Lewis.
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Johny Hendricks vs. Tim Boetsch
I don’t want to get too excited about Hendricks’ win in his middleweight debut, as he faced a man who is similar in size with noted cardio issues. I’d like to see Hendricks eased into the top 15, unlike the last middleweight who beat Lombard and went on to immediately fight for the title (*cough* Dan Henderson *cough*).
Tim Boetsch, ranked 14th in the middleweight standings, is coming off a loss to top contender Jacare Souza but before that, had won back-to-back fights in the division. Boetsch is also an average-sized middleweight, despite his three-inch height advantage over Hendricks.
A bout against Boetsch would allow Hendricks to acclimate to the size difference he’ll surely face by jumping divisions while also facing off against someone who can test his striking and grappling.
Gavin Tucker vs. Dennis Bermudez
Gavin Tucker’s athleticism, speed, quickness and footwork looked world class Sunday night and the Canadian prospect appears to be on the fast track to success under the UFC banner.
He outclassed a 12-fight UFC veteran in Sicilia, absorbing just 10 significant strikes -- 10! -- over three full rounds to prove he’s ready to take on some of the UFC’s best.
Tucker definitely has top-15 talent but I’d like to see him actually tested in all facets of the game in his next outing. A guy like Dennis Bermudez, who sits just outside the top 10, will absolutely press the Canadian to use every tool at his disposal and give fans a better idea of how he stacks up in a division loaded with young talent.
Elias Theodorou vs. Uriah Hall
Elias Theodorou has to be one of the most resilient fighters on the roster. After yet another bout where he was down on the cards after the first round, Theodorou grinded his way to his fourth win in his last five fights.
I’d like to see how Theodorou measures up against the middleweight top 15 seeing as how his only professional loss came in his only fight against a ranked opponent. The Canadian has made plenty of improvements since that 2015 loss and a matchup against a dynamic fighter like Uriah Hall will prove just how far he’s come.
Hall was once considered a bona-fide future champion but has underwhelmed during his time in the Octagon. With three straight losses on his record and his middleweight ranking on the line, there’s no doubt Hall would give Theodorou a real challenge.
Sara McMann vs. Julianna Pena
Sara McMann believes she deserves the winner of Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko, and after three straight wins, it’s hard to argue with her. McMann, however, still probably needs one more win to earn her second UFC title shot.
The quickest way to the belt is likely through Julianna Pena, a fighter reeling from a loss in a No. 1 contender’s bout of her own.
Pena is an aggressive grappler who will look to put McMann through a grueling 15 minutes and surely test whatever improvements the former Olympian believes she’s made in the stand-up.
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Paul Felder vs. Evan Dunham
Paul Felder got back in the win column with a strong first-round finish Sunday night for his third win in his last four fights. After such an impressive performance -- his second submission win since January of 2016 -- Felder deserves another crack at the lightweight top 15.
Sitting at 15th and currently riding a four-fight win streak is well-rounded veteran Evan Dunham. Dunham’s striking has been on another level during his most recent win streak, as he’s outlanded opponents 449-163 in significant strikes in that span.
I’d love to see these two action fighters face off with lightweight positioning on the line.