Saturday, August 13, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (7/18-7/23): Walker & Cuțelaba Collide

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for entertaining light heavyweight Johnny Walker, French standout Benoît Saint-Denis, and in-form featherweight prospect David Onama.

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:

But it wasn’t all positive, with a number of fights falling through in recent days. For those failed pairings, see the list below:

  • Justin Tafa (OUT) vs. Don’Tale Mayes – UFC 277 (July 30)
  • Zubaira Tukhugov (OUT) vs. Nate Landwehr – UFC Vegas 59 (August 6)
  • Makhmud Muradov (OUT) vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov – UFC Paris (September 3)
  • Jéssica Andrade (OUT) vs. Manon Fiorot – UFC Paris (September 3)

With those withdrawals, a number of new matchups have been made. For information on those, as well as a number of other bouts that may have flown under your radar between July 18 and July 23, scroll down and check out this week’s matchmaking bulletin.

David Onama vs. Nate Landwehr – UFC San Diego (August 13)

With Zubaira Tukhugov’s withdrawal, Nate Landwehr will have an extra week to prepare for a new opponent, with “The Train” set to face short-notice replacement David Onama in San Diego.

Landwehr (15-4), who is a former featherweight titleholder under the M-1 Global banner, has amassed a 2-2 record inside the Octagon. After being stopped in less than minute by Julian Erosa in February 2021, the 34-year-old Tennessee native bounced back in impressive fashion in October, submitting Ľudovít Klein via anaconda choke.

In Landwehr’s way of consecutive wins will be Onama (10-1). After a short-notice debut at lightweight saw the promising Mason Jones blemish his record for the first time, Onama has shown his own bright future at 145 pounds. In two appearances this year, “Silent Assassin” has knocked Gabriel Benítez out in one round and submitted Garrett Armfield in two. The 28-year-old Ugandan will look to further impress by dispatching Landwehr on short notice.

This UFC San Diego matchup, set for August 13, was announced by Onama’s management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Benoît Saint-Denis vs. Christos Giagos – UFC Paris (September 3)

As expected, Benoît Saint-Denis will be joining compatriots Ciryl Gane and Nassourdine Imavov in front of a home crowd at UFC Paris.

Saint-Denis (9-1), who arrived in the Octagon as a highly-touted prospect following an 8-0 record in Europe, had a tough first assignment in the form of Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC 267.

After a brutal loss, made worse by an incompetent referee prolonging the damage, “God of War” moved down to lightweight and entered the win column in the UFC for the first time, submitting Niklas Stolze last month at UFC Vegas 56.

In the Frenchman’s way of a hometown win will be Christos Giagos (19-10). “The Spartan” is in desperate need of having his hand raised after losing back-to-back outings against Arman Tsarukyan and Thiago Moisés.

This Paris addition was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Taylor Lapilus vs. Khalid Taha – UFC Paris (September 3)

It’s been a long time coming, but Taylor Lapilus is finally back in the UFC.

Lapilus (18-3) first arrived in the Octagon back in 2015 as an 8-1 professional. While back-to-back wins got “Double Impact” off to a good start, a defeat on the scorecards to Érik Pérez broke what was a five-fight win streak. And despite rebounding against Leandro Issa, the Frenchman exited the promotion after a 3-1 run.

Having gone 7-1 since, which includes triumphs over current UFC fighter Nate Maness and former UFC title challenger Wilson Reis, as well as winning the Ares FC bantamweight gold, Lapilus will have a second chance in the Octagon on September 3 in Paris, where he’ll meet Khalid Taha (13-4). The German has dropped his last two bouts to Raoni Barcelos and Sergey Morozov.

News of MMA Factory standout Lapilus’ return to the UFC was first reported by French publication, La Sueur.

Dustin Stoltzfus vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov – UFC Paris (September 3)

Also heading to Paris for the UFC’s first French-held event will be Dana White‘s Contender Series alum Dustin Stoltzfus, who’ll face Dagestan-born German Abusupiyan Magomedov on September 3.

After earning a contract on DWCS, Stoltzfus (14-4) rode a 10-fight win streak into his first Octagon appearance. But after dropping a unanimous decision to Kyle Daukaus, the 30-year-old Pennsylvania native fell to a three-fight skid with a pair of submission losses to Rodolfo Vieira and Gerald Meerschaert. Having rebounded against Dwight Grant last weekend, Stoltzfus will look to return to a win streak when he crosses the Atlantic to Europe.

Looking to stifle those plans will be Magomedov (24-4-1). The former PFL finalist has suffered defeat just once since 2015. And after failing to capture gold inside the SmartCage, “Abus” won a pair of outings under Europe’s EMC and KSW banners. His UFC debut in Paris was set to come against Makhmud Muradov, but with his withdrawal, Magomedov will be preparing for Stoltzfus instead

This new matchup was first reported by Magomedov’s team, UFD Gym.

Johnny Walker vs. Ion Cuțelaba – UFC 279 (September 10)

In perhaps the most under-the-radar announcement in a week that’s seen multiple blockbuster showdowns added to a pair of pay-per-views, hard-hitting light heavyweights Johnny Walker and Ion Cuțelaba are set to collide at UFC 279.

Walker (18-7) was once considered one of the hottest prospects in the promotion. But after extending his win streak to nine with three victories under the UFC banner, things immediately went south for the charismatic and entertaining Brazilian after his flying knee knockout of Misha Cirkunov — and by immediately, we mean immediately, with Walker dislocating his shoulder whilst celebrating the win.

Having gone 1-4 since, most recently falling to a KO against Jamahal Hill that went viral for its bizarre nature, Walker is in need of a bounce-back performance to remain in the rankings and resurrect his Octagon career.

In his way of doing so will be another powerful entertainer in Cuțelaba (16-7-1). “The Hulk” rebounded from a winless three-fight run against Devin Clark, but failed to make it a streak last time out, with Ryan Spann submitting him in one round.

This September 10 fight was announced by Walker on his YouTube channel.

Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Lucas Almeida – UFC 280 (October 22)

While he may not be fighting Nate Landwehr next month in the States, Russian featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov does have a fight booked.

Zubaira Tukhugov (20-5-1) has gone 2-1-1 since returning from suspension and a three-year layoff, most recently outpointing Ricardo Ramos at UFC 267 in October 2021. The 31-year-old will be targeting back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015 at UFC 280, where he’ll share the Octagon with Lucas Almeida.

Almeida (14-1) fell short of earning a contract on DWCS in 2021, dropping a unanimous decision to Mexico’s Daniel Zellhuber in what was his first professional loss. But after rebounding with a lightweight title win in Brazil’s Jungle Fight promotion, the São Paulo native will have his chance on MMA’s biggest stage in Abu Dhabi.

This 145-pound pairing was first reported by Red Fury MMA.

Manon Fiorot vs. Katlyn Chookagian – UFC 280 (October 22)

It doesn’t seem like a week goes by without an update to Manon Fiorot’s (9-1) fifth fight under the UFC banner. First it was Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) in Paris, then it was Jéssica Andrade in Paris, then it was back to Chookagian in Paris, and now it’s Chookagian in Abu Dhabi.

Per RMC Sport, a knee injury on the side of the French native has forced a postponement, with Fiorot unable to make the September 3 date for a fight in front of her home crowd. With that, “The Beast” will now meet “Blonde Fighter” in Abu Dhabi at the UFC 280 pay-per-view.

With the winner potentially in line for a date opposite reigning flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko, the stakes will be high on October 22, and if there’s one thing that the UFC 280 card has an abundance of, it’s high stakes.

Although, given the way this booking has gone so far, it’s probably safe to assume that it’ll end up in a different country and month by next week’s bulletin…

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

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