Saturday, September 24, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (8/1-8/6): Hooper/Schnell/Cortez Booked

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for fan-favorite featherweight Chase Hooper, rising women’s flyweight Tracy Cortez, entertaining 125lber Matt Schnell, and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.

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 any confirmed replacements, see the list below:

  • Alexa Grasso (OUT) vs. Viviane Araújo – UFC San Diego (August 13/re-arranged for October 15)
  • Cristian Quiñonez (OUT, Da’Mon Blackshear IN) vs. Youssef Zalal – UFC San Diego (August 13)
  • Aspen Ladd (OUT) vs. Sara McMann – UFC San Diego (August 13/re-arranged for September 17)
  • Melissa Gatto (OUT, Mariya Agapova IN) vs. Gillian Robertson – UFC Vegas 60 (September 17)
  • Leah Letson (OUT, Julija Stoliarenko IN) vs. Chelsea Chandler – UFC Fight Night (October 1)

For information on a host of bouts that may have flown under your radar between August 1 and August 5, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

Randy Brown vs. Francisco Trinaldo – UFC Fight Night (October 1)

In one of two 40+ UFC mainstays featuring in this week’s bulletin, Francisco Trinaldo has been paired against Randy Brown for the October 1 UFC Fight Night.

Trinaldo (28-8), a former interim and undisputed Jungle Fight lightweight champion, has made the walk to the Octagon 25 times, sharing the cage with the likes of Michael Chiesa, Paul Felder, and Kevin Lee during his lengthy tenure. The Brazilian, who’s never lost consecutive fights, has been in fine form, winning five of his last six. In his last two outings, the 43-year-old outpointed Dwight Grant and Danny Roberts at welterweight.

Trinaldo will look to move to 3-1 at 170 pounds when he faces Brown (15-4). After an inconsistent first 10 UFC appearances, “Rude Boy” has been on his best run, emerging victorious in three consecutive bouts since a loss to Vicente Luque in 2020. Most recently, Brown fell on the right side of a split decision against knockout artist Khaos Williams at UFC 274.

This bout was announced on Brown’s OnlyFans account.

CJ Vergara vs. Tatsuro Taira – UFC Fight Night (October 15)

Exciting flyweight prospect Tatsuro Taira will return to the Octagon for his sophomore appearance on October 15.

Not many have entered the MMA leader as highly touted as the 22-year-old Taira (11-0) was earlier this year. He enhanced his reputation as one to watch on debut at UFC Vegas 54, outpointing Carlos Candelario. Having maintained his perfect professional record, which includes eight finishes, Taira will be looking to move closer to the rankings with a second UFC win.

In the Japanese prospect’s way of doing so will be CJ Vergara (10-3-1). After following up his 41-second Dana White‘s Contender Series win with a debut loss to Ode’ Osbourne, Vergara quickly evened his promotional record by earning a split decision win versus Kleydson Rodrigues at UFC 274.

This 125-pound scrap was announced by Taira’s management, Iridium Sports Agency.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima – UFC Fight Night (October 29)

Ageless wonder Andrei Arlovski has his next fight booked. Per Combate’s Raphael Marinho, the former UFC heavyweight champion is set to share the Octagon with Marcos Rogério de Lima at the event scheduled for October 29.

Arlovski (34-20), whose 38 UFC appearances sits as the promotion record, has found a late-career burst of form, winning six of his last seven outings. Wins against Chase Sherman, Carlos Felipe, Jared Vandreraa, and Jake Collier comprise an active four-fight win streak for “The Pitbull.”

The 43-year-old is now slated to make his third outing of the year, with the goal being his longest UFC win streak since 2005 and another step towards a previously unlikely return to title contention.

In his way of that accomplishment will be de Lima (19-8-1). The TUF Brasil 3 semifinalist has had an inconsistent 14-fight UFC career, exchanging wins and losses for the most part. Whilst back-to-back victories over Maurice Greene and Ben Rothwell in 2021 represented de Lima’s best run of form since 2014, he failed to make it three in a row against Blagoy Ivanov, falling to a unanimous decision loss on the scorecards in May.

Chase Hooper vs. Steve Garcia – UFC Fight Night (October 29)

Fan-favorite featherweight Chase Hooper will also return at the promotion’s October 29 event for his sixth outing inside the Octagon.

Hooper (11-2-1) arrived in the UFC as an undefeated prospect. While a quick win against Daniel Teymur and a come-from-behind submission victory over Peter Barrett enhanced his status as one to watch, setbacks to Alex Caceres and Steven Peterson exposed some flaws in Hooper’s striking game. But at UFC Vegas 55, “The Dream” returned from a near-year layoff having made some evident evolutions, outclassing Felipe Colares en route to a third-round TKO.

The 22-year-old will hope to return to a win streak when he meets Steve Garcia (12-5) later this year. “Mean Machine” has had a tough stint in the UFC, which began just six months after he missed out on a contract with his victory on DWCS. While he evened his promotional record following a debut loss to Luis Peña with a TKO win against Charlie Ontiveros, the 30-year-old was knocked out by Hayisaer Maheshate at UFC 275.

This matchup was first reported by Sherdog’s Tudor Leonte.

Dustin Jacoby vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. – UFC Fight Night (October 29)

The October 29 event will also see action at 205 pounds, with the newly ranked Dustin Jacoby looking to cement his position in the top 15 opposite promotional veteran Khalil Rountree Jr.

Jacoby (18-5-1) was one of the standout performers on the 2020 edition of DWCS, and he’s lived up to the promise he showed against Ty Flores with an unbeaten seven-fight Octagon tenure. Aside from a split draw against Ion Cuțelaba, “The Hanyak” has been perfect under the UFC banner, recording wins over names like Da Un Jung and Michał Oleksiejczuk.

While his next opponent doesn’t have a number next to his name, Rountree Jr. (10-5-1) would be the biggest name added to Jacoby’s win column to date. The TUF 23 finalist has had a mixed bag across his 12-fight UFC career, recording wins over Paul Craig and Gökhan Saki but falling to defeats against Cuțelaba and Johnny Walker.

Having secured recent victories over Modestas Bukauskas and Karl Roberson, the former via oblique kick, “The War Horse” is looking to continue his surge towards contention.

This light heavyweight clash was confirmed by Jacoby’s management, Iridium Sports Agency.

Mario Bautista vs. Benito Lopez – UFC Fight Night (November 5)

The November 5 card, scheduled to be a UFC Fight Night, has had its first bout announced, and it’ll see the return of DWCS alum Benito Lopez.

Lopez (10-1) went 2-1 in the Octagon after earning a contract with a win against Steven Peterson. A sole career loss to Manny Bermudez was sandwiched between wins against Albert Morales and Vince Morales. But since defeating the latter in July 2019, “Golden Boy” has been sidelined through injury.

Welcoming the 28-year-old back after over three years away from the cage will be Mario Bautista (10-2). Since a 2-2 start in the UFC, which included a submission loss to then-future interim title challenger Cory Sandhagen, Bautista has found form with consecutive victories, the most recent of which saw him submit promotional vet Brian Kelleher in one round.

This bantamweight bout was announced by Bautista’s management, Iridium Sports Agency.

Matheus Nicolau vs. Matt Schnell – UFC Event (December 3)

The UFC’s end-of-year scheduled has also began to take shape with a few exciting flyweight additions to the December 3 card, the first of which sees Matt Schnell face Matheus Nicolau.

Prior to UFC Long Island last month, Schnell had won just one of his last four outings — a period that followed a four-fight win streak. But against Sumudaerji, “Danger” returned to the win column in some style, choking “The Tibetan Eagle” unconscious in one of the best rounds and most memorable comebacks of all time.

With that in mind, all eyes will no doubt be on the #8-ranked contender when he returns to the cage to face Nicolau (18-2-1). After a 3-1 stint in the Octagon, the Brazilian returned to the regional scene with back-to-back victories in 2019. And since returning to the UFC, the 29-year-old has won three straight, besting former Rizin champion Manel Kape, Tim Elliott, and the highly touted David Dvořák.

This collision of top-10 flyweights was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Amanda Ribas vs. Tracy Cortez – UFC Event (December 3)

The December 3 card will also see action in the women’s 125-pound weight class, with the rising Tracy Cortez set to meet Brazil’s Amanda Ribas.

Cortez (10-1) hasn’t tasted defeat since her professional debut, extending her active win streak to 10 with four victories under the UFC banner. After earning a contract on DWCS with a win against Mariya Agapova, the 28-year-old outpointed Vanessa Melo, Stephanie Egger, and Justine Kish before adding the first blemish to Melissa Gatto’s record last time out at UFC 274.

Later this year, Cortez will face her toughest test to date in the form of Ribas (11-3). Despite recording wins over Mackenzie Dern and Virna Jandiroba at strawweight, where she’s ranked #10, the Brazilian returned to flyweight last time out to face Katlyn Chookagan, having previously submitted Paige VanZant at 125 pounds. After a narrow split decision loss to the #1-ranked contender, Ribas is looking to move to a positive divisional record at the expense the #14-ranked Cortez.

This flyweight contest 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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