Tuesday, October 4, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (8/15-8/20): Moicano Meets Riddell

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for tough lightweight Renato Moicano, up-and-coming middleweight Bo Nickal, featherweight mainstay Andre Fili, light heavyweight powerhouse Alonzo Menifield, and undefeated former Olympian Mark Madsen.

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 or being adjusted in recent days. For those failed pairings and the confirmed replacements, see the list below:

  • Vinc Pichel (OUT, Joaquim Silva IN) vs. Jesse Ronson – UFC Vegas 61 (Oct. 1)
  • Vinicius Salvador (OUT, Cody Durden IN) vs. Kleydson Rodrigues – UFC Fight Night (Oct. 29)

For information on a host of bouts that may have flown under your radar between August 15 and August 20, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

Andre Fili vs. Bill Algeo – UFC Vegas 60 (September 17)

Following the withdrawal of Lando Vannata last week, featherweight Andre Fili has a new opponent for UFC Vegas 60 on September 17.

“Touchy” Fili (21-9) has been a mainstay in the Octagon at 145 pounds since making his promotional debut in 2013. But having exchanged wins and losses throughout his UFC tenure, Fili finds himself in his trickiest position to date. After a decision defeat to Bryce Mitchell and no contest against Daniel Pineda, the Washington native was given a short night at UFC Vegas 53 in April, with Joanderson Brito stopping him in just 41 seconds.

With Vannata’s injury, Fili will now look to rebound against Joaquim Silva (11-3). “Netto BJJ” is 1-3 across his last four and is coming off consecutive knockout losses to Nasrat Haqparast and Rick Glenn. The Brazilian’s September 17 appearance will mark his first in over a year and only his second since 2019.

This featherweight clash was announced by Fili’s management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Bo Nickal vs. Donovan Beard – DWCS Week 10 (September 27)

Three-time NCAA Division I National Champion Bo Nickal is set to return to Dana White‘s Contender Series for his second appearance of the year.

After making the transition to mixed martial arts and debuting with a first-round knockout win against John Noland under Jorge Masvidal‘s iKON FC banner, Nickal (2-0) earned an opportunity on DWCS earlier this month. While “The Allen Assassin” impressed with a quick submission victory over Zachary Borrego, it wasn’t enough to secure him a place on the UFC roster.

With Dana White looking for more experience before getting Nickal onboard, the wrestling standout will return on week 10 of the series, set of September 27, where he’ll meet Donovan “The Highlight Reel” Beard (7-1). The Arkansas native boasts three submissions and two knockouts on his record.

Misha Cirkunov vs. Alonzo Menifield – UFC Vegas 62 (October 15)

UFC veteran Misha Cirkunov will look to return to form at UFC Vegas 62, where he makes his way back to light heavyweight to face powerhouse Alonzo Menifield.

Cirkunov (15-8), a 23-fight MMA vet who’s competed in the Octagon since 2015, is currently on his worst career run, losing three consecutive outings. After a year-and-a-half out following his submission win against Jimmy Crute, the Latvian-Canadian was knocked out by Ryan Spann last March. A subsequent drop to middleweight didn’t go to plan, with the 35-year-old dropping a decision to Krzysztof Jotko and submission to Wellington Turman.

To avoid an 0-4 skid, Cirkunov will need to stall the momentum of Menifield (12-3). “Atomic” returned to his finishing ways at UFC Vegas 56, culminating in the bizarre story of Askar Mozharov with some brutal first-round elbows. The result marked a rebound, with Menifield having been outpointed by William Knight seven months prior.

This light heavyweight bout was first reported by Eurosport’s Marcel Dorff.

Raphael Assunção vs. Victor Henry – UFC Vegas 62 (October 15)

Bantamweight veteran Raphael Assunção will look to return to the win column when he makes his first appearance of the year at UFC Vegas 62 on October 15.

Assunção (27-9), who boasts victories over Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling, Pedro Munhoz, and TJ Dillashaw inside the Octagon, saw his form fall of a cliff after a 2018 win against Rob Font. The Brazilian is 0-4 since, with defeats to Moraes, Cory Sandhagen, Cody Garbrandt, and Ricky Simón.

Having lost a place in the rankings, Assunção will be looking to prove that he still has something left in the tank and avoid a third consecutive knockout loss when he meets Victor Henry (22-5). “La Mangosta” impressed on debut earlier this year, outpointing Raoni Barcelos at UFC 270.

This bout was announced on the official UFC Japan account.

Hamdy Abdelwahab vs. Parker Porter – UFC 280 (October 22)

Heavyweights Hamdy Abdelwahab and Parker Porter will make the long-haul flight to Abu Dhabi in October for UFC 280.

After accepting a short-notice contest at UFC 277 late last month, 29-year-old Abdelwahab (4-0) extended his unblemished professional record. While his first three fights ended before the final buzzer, the Egyptian was forced to go the full 15 minutes against Don’Tale Mayes in Dallas, where he collected a split decision win.

In his sophomore outing, “The Hammer” will share the Octagon with Porter (12-7). The 37-year-old American has fought five times under the UFC banner. After a debut loss to current top-10 contender Chris Daukaus, Porter won three in a row, outpointing Josh Parisian, Chase Sherman, and Alan Baudot. That streak was snapped last time out by divisional debutant Jailton Almeida.

This contest was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Mark Madsen vs. Drakkar Klose – UFC Fight Night (October 29)

2016 Olympic gold medalist Mark Madsen will hope to keep his professional MMA record unblemished when he meets Drakkar Klose on October 29.

Madsen (12-0) has maintained his perfect résumé inside the Octagon with four wins. After debuting with a TKO win against Danilo Belluardo, the Danish lightweight outpointed Austin Hubbard and UFC vet Clay Guida before getting the better of Vinc Pichel on the scorecards at UFC 272 this past March.

For his fifth outing, “The Olympian” will face Klose (13-2-1), who’s competed under the UFC banner since 2017. The Michigan native has had a successful 2022 to date, returning from a layoff that was forced by a face-off push by Jeremy Stephens with back-to-back wins over Brandon Jenkins and Rafa Garcia.

This 155-pound bout was first reported by Vegas Insider.

Renato Moicano vs. Brad Riddell – UFC 281 (November 12)

Whilst the already stacked UFC 281 card looks set to include a grudge match between rivals Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler, that clash won’t be the only exciting lightweight scrap set to go down at MSG.

Moicano (15-5-1) has shared the cage with the best since arriving in the UFC, defeating Zubaira Tukhugov, Jeremy Stephens, and Calvin Kattar, and falling short against José Aldo, Chan Sung Jung, and Rafael Fiziev. The Brazilian has gone 3-2 since making the move to 155 pounds, most recently acquiring a host of new fans with a gritty performance on short notice against Rafael dos Anjos.

Having survived the five rounds against “RDA” at UFC 272, Moicano is hoping to return to the win column at UFC 281 following a full camp, which will be to prepare for Brad Riddell (10-3). After earning a ranking with four straight wins in the Octagon, the New Zealander’s form has slipped. While a knockout loss to Fiziev stalled his rise, a first-round submission setback to the then-unranked Jalin Turner has left him without a place in the top 15.

This matchup was confirmed by Moicano during an MMA Junkie Twitter Space.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Silvana Gómez Juárez – UFC 281 (November 12)

Women’s strawweight veteran Karolina Kowalkiewicz will look to continue her resurgence at UFC 281, where she’ll meet Silvana Gómez Juárez.

Kowalkiewicz (13-7) ended her five-fight losing skid last time out, stopping Felice Herrig via submission at UFC Vegas 56 to secure her first win since a 2018 decision victory over the same woman. While a sixth straight loss could have marked her exit from the sport, the 36-year-old Polish 115lber is now looking to make it consecutive wins.

Against Kowalkiewicz on November 12 will be Gómez Juárez (11-4). The Argentine snapped a two-fight losing streak with a bonus-winning performance at UFC 275 in June, which saw her knock Liang Na out inside two minutes.

A two-fight win streak will be on the line in this Madison Square Garden-bound matchup, which was first reported by ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Contreras Legaspi.

Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar – UFC 281 (November 12)

Unbeaten lightweight prospect Ottman Azaitar will return to the Octagon for the first time since 2020 at UFC 281 on November 12.

Azaitar (13-0), a former champion under the Brave CF banner, had a rapid start to his career on MMA’s biggest stage, knocking out Teemu Packalén on debut and Khama Worthy in his sophomore outing — both victories came in the first round. “The Bulldozer” was set to face Matt Frevola in Abu Dhabi last January, but Azaitar was released after breaking safety protocols.

Having been reinstated soon after, the Moroccan-German is finally set to resume his UFC tenure, and he’ll once again be preparing to face Frevola (9-3-1). After consecutive defeats to Arman Tsarukyan and Terrance McKinney, the latter of whom knocked him out in just seven seconds, “The Steamrolla” rebounded last time out by stopping Genaro Valdéz inside one round at UFC 270.

This bout was announced on social media by Frevola.

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

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