What main event do you want on our next
— UFC (@ufc)
April 13, 2020
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of
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Ultimate Fighting Championship was clearly determined to go
forward with a banger of a card for UFC 249, even as the spread of
effectively shut down the rest of the world. While the powers that
be at ESPN parent company Disney decided the risk wasn’t worth the
reward, it’s almost certain that when the greenlight is given for
the Octagon to resume normal operations, the promotion will attempt
to put its best foot forward.
Instead of simply just lining up all the best names and slapping
together one of those generic posters, let’s take into account the
real possibility that the rest of the world hasn’t returned to
complete normalcy and the wide-reaching scope of mixed martial arts
might have to narrow just a bit in order to pull this off without
any logistical mishaps.
White’s promise to reward the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino with a
major event for its willingness to circumvent commission oversight
means that Lemoore, California, will for at least one night relive
World Extreme Cagefighting glory days as a West Coast mecca for
MMA. Considering that infrastructure is reportedly still being
built on the secretive Fight Island, here’s an attempt at
constructing the perfect card to get back to our normal routine of
Emmers vs. T.J.
Brown: These two
Dana White’s Contender Series alums recently made their Octagon
debuts. While neither man broke into the win column, they impressed
and entertained. This matchup screams of wild scrambles, kickboxing
exchanges and fast-paced action. Sounds like the perfect way to
kick off the festivities.
Menifield vs. Devin
Clark: This light heavyweight scrap was set to take
place on May 2 in Oklahoma City. Despite the cancellation of that
event, this fight can easily be moved to the Tachi Palace when
considering the location of both men. Since they already had their
sights set on one another, it makes sense that they meet on the
Eubanks: Avila was also getting ready for a bout in
Oklahoma City. Original opponent Karol Rosa
may not be able to get stateside and would have to wait for the
grand opening of Zuffa’s answer to Mortal Kombat. Eubanks also had
the rug snatched away from her when UFC 249 was put on ice. Putting
them together seems to make sense.
Roberts vs. Matt
Frevola: There’s no reason to disrupt this interesting
style clash, which was originally booked for April 25 in Lincoln,
Nebraska. With their records close to identical and approaches that
are almost complete opposites, it’s easy to imagine a dramatic
Calvillo: Calvillo was originally targeting Antonia
Shevchenko at the end of April. With the possibility of
international travel restrictions still being an issue, Calvillo
can look toward Hill to step up instead; and of course, when
doesn’t Hill want to fight?
Weidman vs. Derek
Brunson: Weidman, the former middleweight champion,
was more than willing to take a late-notice spot against either
Shahbazyan or Yoel Romero.
Instead, let’s set him up with Shahbazyan’s original opponent.
Brunson would probably enjoy the chance to add a higher-profile
name to his resume, and Weidman is dead set on returning to 185
pounds. It wouldn’t be farfetched for the two wrestlers to cancel
one another out and swing for the fences.
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Mitchell vs. Charles
Rosa: This is another pairing that would have gone
down at Tachi Palace had UFC 249 not fallen through. Considering
the excitement for which both men are known, there should be no
shortages of jaw-dropping moments. Plus, if Mitchell wins, we can
get a memorable post-fight speech about his COVID-19 conspiracy
Dodson: While staging an event in a venue that played
host to the WEC, it seems appropriate to feature the face of the
franchise. Faber made his debut in the promotion at the Tachi
Palace when he captured the featherweight belt. Had Dodson spent
more time at 135 pounds, it feels almost certain that these two
would have already met. Better late than never.
Ryan Hall vs.
Lamas: Not much explanation needed here. A fight in
which Hall is one of the participants is must-watch TV, and Lamas’
blend of wrestling and brawling should play well with world-class
jiu-jitsu and awkward setups. Yes, please.
Shahbazyan: This middleweight battle between Top 10
fighters could have serious implications for the future of the
division. The undefeated Shahbazyan has been storming up the
rankings since his UFC debut in 2018. Hall, meanwhile, has managed
to hang on the fringes of contention with his last two wins.
Between Hall’s habit of getting into strange fights and
Shahbazyan’s knack for stunning knockouts, this would have the
potential to be unforgettable.
Woodley vs. Colby
Covington: The two former welterweight titleholders
have been staring at each other from across the room for far too
long. Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop them from throwing shots
on social media and in interviews. It’s time to get this over with.
Edwards likely stuck across the Atlantic and Jorge
Masvidal appearing to set his sights on Kamaru
Usman, it makes sense for the other
American Top Team civil war to be settled.
Cejudo vs Dominick
Cruz: Personally, I don’t like Cruz being awarded a
title shot after a four-year layoff that came on the heels of a
clear-cut loss. In a just world, Aljamain
Sterling or Petr Yan would
be standing in the blue corner. However, with the need for star
power and fellow undeserving title contender Jose Aldo
confined to Brazil, Cruz becomes a viable option. A former WEC
champion getting the chance to win UFC gold again is a great way to
add intrigue to the event.
Usman vs Jorge
Masvidal: There’s no need to sell anyone on the fight
itself, as Masvidal has earned a title shot after a stellar 2019
campaign. If we’re returning to the normal fight week routine,
having these two highlight the card with their fellow 170-pound
elites on the same bill should be fun to watch. Usman, Masvidal,
Woodley and Covington interacting in press conferences would be a
spectacle to behold.
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