Thursday, December 8, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (9/26-10/1): Robocop Gets Ranked MW

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for middleweight brawler Gregory Rodrigues, 2022 Dana White‘s Contender Series alum José Johnson, and 23-year-old prospect Michael Morales.

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 few big-name 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 couple of fights falling through in recent days. For those failed pairings, see the list below:

  • Melsik Baghdasaryan (OUT) vs. Joanderson Brito – UFC Vegas 62 (October 15)
  • Edson Barboza (OUT) vs. Ilia Topuria – UFC Vegas 63 (October 29)

For more detailed information on some notable bouts that may have flown under your radar between September 26 and October 1, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

José Johnson vs. Vince Morales – UFC Vegas 65 (November 19)

Recent Dana White’s Contender Series graduate José Johnson will make his debut at UFC Vegas 65 on November 19.

Johnson (15-7) won back-to-back fights under the Fury FC banner to earn an opportunity on the UFC’s talent-finding show. “Lobo Solitario,” whose most recent two defeats came against Octagon bantamweights Ronnie Lawrence and Mana Martinez, made the most of his opportunity by outpointing Jack Cartwright in August.

Looking to spoil the 27-year-old’s welcome party will be Vince Morales (11-6). “Vandetta,” a a seven-fight UFC veteran, has struggled for consistency since arriving in the promotion. While he forged his first win streak in the UFC last year, defeating Drako Rodriguez on the scorecards and stopping Louis Smolka, Morales had his strong run of form ended by Jonathan Martinez at UFC Vegas 55 this past May.

This bantamweight scrap was first reported by MMA Mania’s Alex Behunin.

Daniel da Silva vs. Vinicius Salvador – UFC 282 (December 10)

Another top performer from 2021’s edition of DWCS is also set to be in action later this year, with Vinicius Salvador scheduled to make his promotional debut against Daniel da Silva at UFC 282 on December 10.

Salvador (14-4), an exciting flyweight prospect fighting out of Varginha, Minas Gerais, Brazil, earned an Octagon contract with a second-round knockout of Shannon Ross. With the victory, “Fenômeno” extended his win streak to four and maintained his 100% finishing rate with his 13th KO/TKO.

In Salvador’s way of a fast start will be da Silva (11-4), who arrived in the Octagon as a highly touted prospect following an 11-1 run on the Brazilian regional scene — the only loss being a TKO caused by a shoulder injury.

But in three UFC outings, “Miojo” has been stopped three times, with Jeff Molina and Victor Altamirano securing knockouts, and Francisco Figueiredo submitting da Silva with a first-round kneebar.

This flyweight fight was first reported by Combate’s Raphael Marinho.

Michael Morales vs. Rinat Fakhretdinov – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

A pair of welterweight prospects will collide on the UFC’s final card of 2022, UFC Vegas 66 on December 17.

After 10 finishes in 11 wins, the unbeaten Michael Morales (14-0) earned a contract by outpointing Nikolay Veretennikov on last year’s season of DWCS. The Ecuadorian 22-year-old then raised his stock by knocking Trevin Giles out in one round on debut at UFC 270 this past January. He made it back-to-back under the UFC banner with a third-round TKO win over Adam Fugitt at UFC 277.

Looking to add the first 0 to Morales’ record later this year will be Rinat Fakhretdinov (19-1). The Russian earned a contract with a memorable knockout of Eric Spicely in front of Dana White at UAE Warriors 15 last January. Making an impact on debut, “Gladiator” rag-dolled wrestling Greek Andreas Michailidis at UFC Vegas 56 in June.

This welterweight contest was announced by Morales’ management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Gregory Rodrigues vs. Brad Tavares – UFC 283 (January 21)

Following one of last month’s standout performances, Gregory Rodrigues will get a shot at the rankings in front of a home crowd at UFC 283 on January 21.

Rodrigues (13-4) has quickly built a reputation as one of the most entertaining middleweights in the promotion. That was on display in his come-from-behind victory over Junyong Park and his knockout of Julian Marquez. Most recently, “Robocop” made it back-to-back wins in memorable style, fighting through a gruesome cut to stop the charge of Chidi Njokuani at UFC Vegas 60.

Now, following his latest viral comeback triumph, Rodrigues will have the chance to add a number next to his name. At 2023’s first pay-per-view, set for Rio de Janeiro, he’ll face #14-ranked contender Brad Tavares (19-7).

After consecutive losses to Israel Adesanya and Edmen Shahbazyan, Tavares had a resurgence with a pair of wins in 2021. But at UFC 276 this past July, the 34-year-old Hawaiian fell on the wrong side of a decision after a brawl with Dricus Du Plessis.

This middleweight bout was first reported by Super Lutas’ Laerte Viana.

Josiane Nunes vs. Zarah Fairn – UFC 283 (January 21)

Also set to compete on home soil at UFC 283 will be women’s featherweight Josiane Nunes, who’ll face France’s Zarah Fairn.

Nunes (9-1) has had a perfect 2-0 start in the UFC. After signing with a reputation for knockouts having secured six in seven wins, “Josi” began her Octagon career on the same foot, stopping Bea Malecki with an overhand left in the first round at UFC Vegas 34. The Brazilian returned to action this past February, outpointing Ramona Pascual.

If Nunes is to make it three in a row, she’ll have to get past the woman against whom she was originally slated to debut in 2021. Unlike the 28-year-old, Fairn (6-4) has struggled to find form in the UFC. In two appearances, the Paris, France native suffered first-round losses to Megan Anderson and Felicia Spencer. Now, returning after two years, “Infinite” will look to rebound by blemishing Nunes’ UFC record.

This women’s featherweight contest was first reported by MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz.

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