Thursday, December 8, 2022

UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (10/29-11/5): McKinney & Cuțelaba Return, Two Cancellations

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for entertaining lightweight Terrance McKinney, Brazilian prospect Jailton Almeida, and light heavyweight powerhouses Ion Cuțelaba and Tyson Pedro.

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 regularly confirmed. After a quiet week, the promotion went back to it this week with the booking of a whole host of matchups.

While it did see the absence of any major announcements regarding top contenders, there were still plenty of pairings to digest this week, some of which you can check out below in this week’s quick hits:

  • David Onama vs. Jarno Errens – UFC Vegas 67 (January 14)
  • Dan Argueta vs. Isaac Dulgarian – UFC Vegas 67 (January 14)
  • Omar Morales vs. Mateusz Rębecki – UFC Vegas 67 (January 14)
  • Tatsuro Taira vs. Jesús Aguilar – UFC Seoul (February 4)
  • Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Adam Fugitt – UFC Seoul (February 4)
  • Justin Tafa vs. Parker Porter – UFC 284 (February 11)
  • Joshua Culibao vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan – UFC 284 (February 11)
  • Jack Jenkins vs. Don Shainis – UFC 284 (February 11)
  • Themba Gorimbo vs. Billy Goff – UFC Fight Night (February 18)
  • Nazim Sadykhov vs. Evan Elder – UFC Fight Night (February 18)
  • Joe Solecki vs. Benoît St. Denis – UFC Fight Night (February 18)
  • Juancamilo Ronderos vs. Clayton Carpenter – UFC Fight Night (February 18)
  • Gerald Meerschaert vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov – UFC Fight Night (February 18)

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

  • José Johnson (OUT, Miles Johns IN) vs. Vince Morales – UFC Vegas 65 (November 19)
  • Jamal Pogues (OUT, Tafon Nchukwi IN) vs. Vitor Petrino – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

For more detailed information on some notable bouts that may have flown under your radar between October 29 and November 5, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

Ion Cuțelaba vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu – UFC Vegas 65 (November 19)

Ion Cuțelaba will look to rebound when he takes on Kennedy Nzechukwu at UFC Vegas 65 later this month.

Last time out, Cuțelaba (16-8-1) fell to a loss at the hands of Johnny Walker at UFC 279. Having previously been submitted in the first round by Ryan Spann, the September result against the Brazilian marked the Moldovan’s second consecutive tap-out defeat in round one. On November 19, “The Hulk” will look to return to the form that brought him victories over Devin Clark and Khalil Rountree Jr.

But looking to add to Cuțelaba’s woes will be Nzechukwu (10-3). The Nigerian started his Octagon career 3-1, including back-to-back bonus-worthy performances against Carlos Ulberg and Danilo Marques. After losing his next two outings, “African Savage” bounced back this past July at UFC Vegas 58, outpointing Karl Roberson.

This light heavyweight fight was first reported by MMA Junkie’s Nolan King.

Alex Caceres vs. Julian Erosa – UFC Vegas 66 (December 17)

Longtime UFC veteran Alex Caceres will make his 27th walk to the Octagon at the promotion’s final event of 2022.

Caceres (19-13) entered the year on the best run of form of his career. “Bruce Leeroy” was riding a win streak that spanned five fights dating back to 2019, including opposite Chase Hooper, Kevin Croom, and Seungwoo Choi. But at UFC Vegas 50 this past March, Caceres was beaten by #11-ranked featherweight Sodiq Yusuff on the scorecards.

The 34-year-old will hope to return to winning ways in what looks set to be an exciting bout versus Julian Erosa (28-9). “Juicy J” is currently flying high on a three-fight win streak, having outpointed Hakeem Dawodu and Steven Petersen in his past two appearances, and submitted Charles Jourdain to rebound from the sole loss of his third UFC stint.

This featherweight contest was first reported by Erosa’s management team, Iridium Sports Agency.

Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Jailton Almeida – UFC 283 (January 21)

After seeing yet another fight against Maxim Grishin fall through, Jailton Almeida will look to finally make it to the Octagon at UFC 283 in Brazil, where a matchup with Shamil Abdurakhimov has been re-booked for the third time.

Almeida (16-2) broke onto the scene by adding the first blemish to Nasrudin Nasrudinov’s record on Dana White’s Contender Series. On debut, the Brazilian stormed through Danilo Marques with a quick TKO victory. After a 205-pound bout against Grishin fell through, “Malhadinho” moved up a weight on short notice, finishing Parker Porter. While he’s a threat at both light heavyweight and heavyweight, the latter is where he’s seemingly looking to find success at first.

Almeida will hope to further his cause at the new weight by adding the name of the #15-ranked Abdurakhimov (20-7) to his résumé. The Russian has entered the Octagon 10 times, sharing it with the likes of Derrick Lewis and Andrei Arlovski. He’ll ride a three-fight losing skid into his contest with Almeida, having fallen to defeat at the hands of Chris Daukaus last September and Sergei Pavlovich at UFC London earlier this year.

The UFC announced this matchup following the cancellation of Almeida’s UFC Vegas 64 fight against Grishin.

Thiago Moisés vs. Guram Kutateladze – UFC 283 (January 21)

Formerly ranked lightweight and one-time UFC headliner Thiago Moisés will appear in front of his home fans when he faces Guram Kutateladze at the Rio de Janeiro-held UFC 283 event on January 21.

Heading into a main event against Islam Makhachev last July, 26-year-old Moisés (16-6) found himself in the top 15 following wins over Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and Alexander Hernandez. But after a fourth-round submission loss to the now-champion, the Brazilian fell on the first skid of his career last November when he was brutally stopped by Joel Álvarez.

Having bounced back with a quick submission of Christos Giagos at UFC Vegas 57, Moisés will look to return to a win streak by sending 30-year-old Kutateladze (12-3) on a skid. “Georgian Viking” returned to action at UFC Austin in June for the first time since a victory over Mateusz Gamrot in 2020. He fell on the wrong side of a split decision verdict against Damir Ismagulov, snapping his nine-fight winning run and marking his first defeat since 2015.

This lightweight bout was first reported by Canal Encarada’s Carlos Antunes.

Ismael Bonfim vs. Terrance McKinney – UFC 283 (January 21)

Lightweight prospect Terrance McKinney will look to notch his fourth UFC win when he meets Ismael Bonfim in enemy territory at UFC 283.

McKinney (13-4) developed a reputation for first-round finishes prior to his UFC arrival, something he enhanced by breaking the divisional record for the fastest finish with a seven-second KO of Matt Frevola on debut. Having followed that up with another fast win against Farès Ziam, “T. Wrecks” fell victim to a come-from-behind effort from Drew Dober in a memorable contest at UFC Vegas 50.

After rebounding with a first-round submission against Erick Gonzalez, McKinney will look to make it two in a row when he faces Bonfim (18-3) on January 21. “Marreta” secured a contract on DWCS in September, with a unanimous decision victory over Nariman Abbasov extending his win streak to 12. Bonfim will look to announce his entrance with a triumph in front of his fellow Brazilians early next year.

This lightweight scrap was announced by McKinney and later confirmed by the promotion.

Tyson Pedro vs. Zhang Mingyang – UFC 284 (February 11)

Tyson Pedro will look to continue his resurgence in front of a home Australian crowd at UFC 284 on February 11.

Following back-to-back stoppage losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Maurício Rua, Pedro (9-3) was on the sidelines for over three years after undergoing knee reconstruction surgery. But in 2022, the New South Wales native has returned with a bang, knocking Ike Villanueva out in one round at UFC Vegas 52 and stopping Harry Hunsucker in just 65 seconds at UFC 278.

Pedro will be looking for a similar form in 2023, starting against newcomer Zhang Mingyang (16-6). “Mountain Tiger” extended his winning run to nine this past June in Singapore, knocking George Tokkos out on the first Road to UFC card. The win ensured that his current streak comprises of nothing but first-round finishes.

This light heavyweight matchup was first reported by Chris Presnell.

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