Thursday, June 23, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (6/13-6/18): Nurmagomedov, Fili, Battle Booked

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for AKA product Abubakar Nurmagomedov, TUF winner Bryan Battle, featherweight veteran Andre Fili, City Kickboxing’s Tyson Pedro, and lightweight prospect Nasrat Haqparast.

With UFC cards being held most weekends, Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby have their matchmaking work cut out if they’re to fill them, meaning new bouts are confirmed each and every week.

In recent days, a number of huge fights were reported, confirmed or made official by the UFC and reputable sources. For more information on those matchups, check out the links below:

If you’ve had your fix of big announcements since last Monday, scroll down and check out this week’s matchmaking bulletin, featuring a number of bouts that may have flown under your radar between June 13 and June 18.

Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. Phil Rowe – UFC Long Island (July 16)

Abubakar Nurmagomedov will be looking to finally make his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC Long Island, where he’s been matched up with Phil Rowe.

Nurmagomedov (15-3-1), the younger cousin of MMA great Khabib, bounced back from an unsuccessful promotional debut last time out with a unanimous decision victory over Jared Gooden at UFC 260. But since the March 2021 event, the Dagestani has been absent from the cage.

The 32-year-old was initially booked to face rising welterweight Daniel Rodriguez last July, but he was forced out due to injury. Now a year on, Nurmagomedov will look to pick up from where he left off when he faces Rowe (9-3) on July 16 in New York.

“The Fresh Prince” has gone 2-1 in the Octagon since earning a contract on Dana White‘s Contender Series in 2019. After a debut loss to Gabe Green, Rowe brought himself to a positive record with victories over Orion Cosce and Jason Witt. He’ll look to make it three in a row(e) at UFC Long Island by adding the well-renowned Nurmagomedov name to his résumé.

This addition to the July 16 card was reported by Eurosport’s Marcel Dorff.

Jai Herbert vs. Kyle Nelson – UFC London (July 23)

Lightweight Jai Herbert will be joining the likes of Tom Aspinall, Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Paul Craig, and Muhammad Mokaev as returning Brits on July 23. But while those names will be looking to record their second London victories of the year, “The Black Country Banger” will be targeting his first.

In March, Herbert (11-4) came close to a memorable upset victory over the unbeaten Ilia Topuria. But when the Georgian survived a first round in which he was dropped by a vicious head kick, he came out with violence on his mind, sleeping the Englishman early in the second.

While he’s faced tough competition since arriving in the Octagon, with his other two defeats coming against Renato Moicano and Francisco Trinaldo, falling to a 1-4 record next time out will be hard to bounce back from.

The man hoping to send Herbert to that promotional slate at UFC London will be Kyle Nelson (13-4). The Canadian hasn’t been in action since a knockout loss to Billy Quarantillo in September 2020. Having fallen to a 1-3 record of his own under the UFC banner, “The Monster” will be returning to lightweight on July 23 for the first time since a debut loss to Carlos Diego Ferreira.

Nelson confirmed this bout through his official Twitter account.

Bryan Battle vs. Takashi Sato – UFC Vegas 59 (August 6)

The latest test for TUF winner Bryan Battle will see him drop to welterweight to face five-fight UFC veteran Takashi Sato at UFC Vegas 59.

After defeating Gilbert Urbina last August to be crowned The Ultimate Fighter 29 middleweight victor, Battle (7-1) made a successful sophomore appearance in the Octagon in February this year, earning a unanimous decision win against fellow cast member Tresean Gore.

But despite his early success at middleweight, where all of his professional appearances have come, the 27-year-old is set to make his 170-pound debut on August 6. Looking to make it an unsuccessful arrival for “Pooh Bear” will be Sato (16-5).

The Japanese welterweight will enter his contest with Battle on the back off a two-fight skid, having fallen to defeat against Miguel Baeza in 2020 and versus the returning Gunnar Nelson at UFC London earlier this year.

While Battle will be looking to announce his arrival in a new division, former Pancrase title challenger Sato will be hoping to avoid an often fatal three-fight UFC skid.

This matchup was first reported by MMA Fighting.

Misha Cirkunov vs. Shamil Gamzatov – UFC Vegas 59 (August 6)

After an 0-2 run at middleweight, UFC veteran Misha Cirkunov is set to return to light heavyweight next time out, where he’ll hope to find form at the expense of Shamil Gamzatov.

Since wins over Ion Cuțelaba and Nikita Krylov helped him get off to a perfect 4-0 start in the Octagon, Cirkunov (15-8) has struggled. In eight fights since, the Latvian has gone 2-6, including setbacks against former champion Glover Teixeira, Volkan Oezdemir, and Johnny Walker.

After a 2021 loss to Ryan Spann, Cirkunov unsuccessfully tested the 185-pound waters, falling to further misery at the hands of Krzysztof Jotko and Wellington Turman. If he’s to avoid a four-fight skid, the 35-year-old will need to become only the second man to defeat Gamzatov (14-1).

The Dagestani entered a UFC 267 contest with Michał Oleksiejczuk on the back off a two-year layoff, but with an unblemished 14-0 record in-tow. But after leaving Abu Dhabi with his first loss, which came via first-round TKO, Gamzatov will be looking to return to the kind of form that had him so highly touted upon his arrival in the UFC.

This August 6 bout was first reported by MMA Fight Universe.

Malcolm Gordon vs. Allan Nascimento – UFC San Diego (August 13)

The August 13 UFC Fight Night, set to go down in San Diego, will have some Canadian presence in the form of Malcolm “X” Gordon.

Gordon (14-5) had a tough start in the UFC, losing his debut outing to Amir Albazi, as well as his sophomore appearance versus Sumudaerji. But since a 44-second knockout loss to “The Tibetan Eagle,” Gordon has found form, winning consecutive fights against Francisco Figueiredo and Denys Bondar.

The former TKO Flyweight Champion will look to add a third straight win and perhaps a 12th career finish to his résumé when he shares the Octagon with the in-form Allan Nascimento (19-6).

“Pure Osso” had a tough debut assignment in the form of Tagir Ulanbekov. After falling on the wrong side of a split decision against the Russian, Nascimento found his way to the win column last month by spoiling the debut of the previously-undefeated Jake Hadley.

The 30-year-old will look to build a run of form when he meets Malcolm “X” this summer in a matchup that was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Tyson Pedro vs. Harry Hunsucker – UFC 278 (August 20)

With the main event contest between welterweight titleholder Kamaru Usman and challenger Leon Edwards confirmed, the UFC 278 card is beginning to take shape. The latest matchup to be added to the August 20 pay-per-view features light heavyweights Tyson Pedro and Harry Hunsucker.

Pedro (8-3) returned in style in April following more than three years on the sidelines. After showing early potential with wins against Khalil Rountree Jr. and Paul Craig, consecutive setbacks to Ovince Saint Preux and Mauricio Rua stalled his progress, the latter of whom Pedro lost to following a serious knee injury that left him requiring knee reconstruction.

After a difficult layoff, the Australian reminded the 205-pound roster of his presence this year when he viciously knocked Ike Villanueva out at UFC Vegas 52. If he’s to make it back-to-back in August, Pedro will have to go through Hunsucker (7-5).

After consecutive defeats to Tai Tuivasa and Justin Tafa at heavyweight, “The Hurricane” will look to save his place on the UFC roster with a venture to light heavyweight, where yet another Aussie will be awaiting him.

This Utah-bound matchup was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Nasrat Haqparast vs. John Makdessi – UFC Paris (September 3)

The UFC’s first visit to France is edging closer, and with it, a number of names are having their seats on the plane to Paris booked. The latest addition sees Afghan-born German Nasrat Haqparast meet Canadian veteran John Makdessi.

Haqparast (13-4) has shown glimpses of his potential in the Octagon, earning victories over the likes of Marc Diakiese, Alex Munoz, and Rafa Garcia. But after back-to-back losses to ranked contender Dan Hooker and 2022 main-eventer Bobby Green, the 26-year-old finds himself in need of a rebound performance next time out.

The man looking to send him on a three-fight skid instead will be Makdessi (18-7). “The Bull” has fought once a year since 2017, with his latest performance coming last April. Having edged a decision win against Ignacio Bahamondes in a memorable three-round war, the 37-year-old will look to deliver a similarly impressive performance when he makes the trip across the Atlantic on September 3.

This re-arranged bout, which was slated for February earlier this year, was first reported by Eurosport’s Marcel Dorff.

Andre Fili vs. Lando Vannata – UFC Fight Night (September 17)

An exciting featherweight matchup will go down on September 17 as UFC veterans Andre Fili and Lando Vannata collide.

“Touchy” Fili (21-9) has been a mainstay in the Octagon at 145 pounds since making his promotional debut in 2013. The 31-year-old has shared the cage with some of the best during his time on MMA’s biggest stage, including Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, and Calvin Kattar.

Having exchanged wins and losses throughout his UFC tenure, Fili finds himself in his trickiest position to date, winless in his last three. After a decision defeat to Bryce Mitchell and an unfortunate no contest against Daniel Pineda, the Washington native was given a short night at UFC Vegas 53 in April, with Joanderson Brito stopping him via TKO in just 41 seconds.

Vannata had a similar night at the office a week earlier when he met Charles Jourdain. A first-round submission loss to the Canadian meant that “Groovy” had failed to continue the momentum from his victory over Mike Grundy last May.

Now, having exchanged wins and losses across his last six outings, Vannata will be looking to build consistent form, starting against Fili on September 17.

This matchup was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Randy Costa vs. Guido Cannetti – UFC Fight Night (October 1)

Joining names like Vinc Pichel and Cheyanne Vlismas on the card, bantamweight Randy Costa is set to feature at the October 1 event, which is expected to be a UFC Fight Night.

Costa (6-3) is on a poor run of form, losing consecutive outings against Adrian Yanez and Tony Kelley, both via second-round TKOs. When he returns later this year, “The Zohan” will look to find his way back to the form that brought him a pair of first-round knockout wins against Boston Salmon and Journey Newson.

In his way of doing so will be veteran Guido Cannetti (9-6), who’s competed in the Octagon since 2014. The 42-year-old was 2-6 and riding a three-fight losing streak, including a defeat to Marlon Vera, heading into his last outing. Having likely saved his place in the promotion by stopping Kris Moutinho inside one round, the Argentine will look to make it back-to-back on October 1.

This matchup was first reported by ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Contreras Legaspi.

Who do you envision having their hands raised in these UFC matchups?

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