Morning Matchmaker: Where do Gustafsson, Johnson and Pickett go from here?
We already know what’s next for Alexander Gustafsson after his win over Jimi Manuwa. But a few other top-15 caliber guys fought Saturday at UFC Fight Night London.
Who should Michael Johnson, Brad Pickett and Gunnar Nelson fight next? Find out below:
Gustafsson had something to win against Jimi Manuwa, but he also had plenty to lose against the unheralded Brit. And Manuwa is no tomato can, either. He’s extremely athletic and has knockout power. Gustafsson passed the test and then firmly asked for a rematch against Jon Jones.
Who’s next: Jon Jones/Glover Teixeira winner
This is obvious. Most people figured Gustafsson would become No. 1 contender with a win and UFC president Dana White confirmed it at the post-fight press conference. Expect him to fight Jones sometime in the fall if Jones can get by Teixeira next month at UFC 172. There’s also another thing to consider. If Teixeira beats Jones in a close fight, you can almost count on an immediate rematch. White said Gustafsson would get Jones or Teixeira next depending on who won, but it’s hard to imagine Jones not getting right back in there if he loses.
Manuwa had a serviceable performance against Gustafsson. He was dominated for the most part, but didnât get completely blown out. It didnât look like a joke that he was in there with one of the best light heavyweights in the world. That could be judged as a moral victory, but, at age 34, it likely Manuwa will improve much more.
Who’s next: James Te Huna
When last we saw Te Huna, he was lying prone in the Octagon in Australia, the victim of a picture-perfect counter left hook from Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Before that, he seemed to be making a mini-run in the light heavyweight division. Te Huna likes to stand and trade, making this a nice stylistic matchup for the heavy-handed Manuwa. The winner stays relevant in a very thin 205-pound division. The loser? Not so much.
No, Johnson didn’t tear the house down with his win over Melvin Guillard. It seemed like Guillard was determined not to engage with him. Johnson did what was necessary to win and hurt Guillard a couple of times to boot. There’s no doubt he has improved exponentially since his days on The Ultimate Fighter.
Who’s next: Nate Diaz
With three straight wins, it’s time Johnson gets a real lightweight contender. He and Nate Diaz sort of had some Twitter beef before Johnson got booked against Guillard. That was during the time that Johnson was calling out everyone. The guy certainly isn’t lacking in confidence — he called himself the best striker in the division after winning Saturday. This would be a fun fight and the build up would be pretty entertaining. Realistically, it could even be a Fight Night co-main event.
Pickett won in his flyweight debut, but Neil Seery, the debuting Irishman, actually made the bigger impression. Seery outboxed Pickett and landed some big shots. Pickett, known for his striking, actually prevailed with his wrestling.
Who’s next: Ian McCall
McCall was supposed to fight Pickett on the London card before he got hurt. The flyweight division has a bunch of potential contenders — John Dodson, Ali Bagautinov, Zach Makovsky and now Pickett — but no true, clear cut No. 1 guy to face champion Demetrious Johnson. UFC president Dana White said Pickett put himself in good position for a title shot, but he should win at least one more fight getting the nod.
Nelson cemented his status as a top prospect by completely dominating Omari Akhmedov. Nelson’s mount looked indomitable. It’s time for the 25-year-old to get a serious increase in competition.
Who’s next: Kelvin Gastelum/Rick Story winner
The welterweight division is one of the deepest — if not the deepest — in the UFC right now. Nelson basically just threw his hat into the ring as a legitimate force. Gastelum and Story meet Saturday at UFC 172 and the winner will be in the UFC’s top 15 at 170. Nelson should get the winner in a bout that would propel the victor into a top contender type of fight.