UFC Matchmaking Bulletin (1/16-1/21): Barboza & Shore Return, Yadong Meets Simón

MMA News has you covered with this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin, featuring fights for featherweight veteran Edson Barboza, UK standout Jack Shore, top 10-ranked bantamweight Song Yadong, lightweight prospect Ignacio Bahamondes, and experienced 135lber Pedro Munhoz.

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:

It was a busy week for fight announcements, with a number of lower-profile matchups coming together. For some of those, including bouts featuring strawweight prospect Iasmin Lucindo, debutant Junior Tafa, featherweight veteran Norma Dumont, and rising light heavyweight Azamat Murzakanov, check out this week’s quick hits:

For detailed information on some other notable fights that may have flown under your radar between January 16 and January 21, scroll down and check out this week’s UFC matchmaking bulletin.

Jack Shore vs. Makwan Amirkhani – UFC 286 (March 18)

Ranked bantamweight Jack Shore will make his featherweight debut in front of his fellow Brits at UFC 286 on March 18.

Shore (16-1), a former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion, finally secured a number next to his name last year after extending his perfect professional record. With an impressive victory over Timur Valiev at March’s UFC London, the Welshman moved to 5-0 inside the Octagon. But while he’d hoped to edge towards the top 10 four months later at UFC Long Island, “Tank” was submitted by Ricky Simón.

Now, following advice from doctors at the University of Liverpool, Shore has concluded that a cut to 135 pounds is “no longer doable.” He’ll debut at featherweight when the promotion returns across the pond for its first UK-held pay-per-view since 2016. There, he’ll meet Makwan Amirkhani, who went 1-1 in London last year, beating Mike Grundy but falling to defeat versus Jonathan Pearce.

This featherweight fight was first reported by Alex Behunin.

Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Nikolas Motta – UFC 287 (April 8)

Bouts are beginning to be announced for April’s UFC 287 PPV, expected to be held in Brooklyn, New York. This week, that included a lightweight scrap between Ignacio Bahamondes and Nikolas Motta.

Bahamondes (13-4) has made quite the impression since securing a path to the Octagon via Dana White‘s Contender Series. After a narrow decision loss to John Makdessi in a memorable three-round war, the 25-year-old delivered a Knockout of the Year contender by sleeping Roosevelt Roberts with a spinning wheel kick at UFC Vegas 34.

Having made it back-to-back wins last time out by submitting Rong Zhu, Bahamondes will look to keep his momentum rolling in 2023. But looking to stop the Chilean from doing so will be Motta (13-4). After a disappointing knockout loss to veteran Jim Miller, the Brazilian 29-year-old rebounded in style at UFC Vegas 60, stopping Cameron VanCamp in one round.

This lightweight matchup was first reported by ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Contreras Legaspi.

Michelle Waterson-Gomez vs. Luana Pinheiro – UFC 287 (April 8)

UFC 287 will also host a battle between ranked strawweights, with Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Luana Pinheiro set to collide.

Waterson-Gomez (18-10) has been an ever-present in the Octagon since 2015, collecting notable wins over Angela Hill, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and Paige VanZant during her UFC tenure. But “The Karate Hottie,” who currently occupies the #11 spot on the 155-pound ladder, has fallen on hard times recently, suffering defeats to Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos in her last two outings.

The 37-year-old will look to prove that she still has what it takes to compete at the highest level when she shares the cage with the #13-ranked Pinheiro (10-1) on April 8. The Brazilian sat out 2022 after a bout with Jessica Penne fell through. Prior to that, she’d gone 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Randa Markos and Sam Hughes. Pinheiro will enter her first bout in 17 months riding an eight-fight winning streak.

This women’s strawweight bout was first reported by ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto.

Edson Barboza vs. Billy Quarantillo – UFC Event TBA (April 15)

The UFC event scheduled for April 15 looks to be guaranteed fireworks with the addition of Edson Barboza vs. Billy Quarantillo.

Barboza (22-11) is one of the longest-serving UFC fighters, having competed in the promotion 27 times since 2010. In the past few years, the longtime lightweight has gone 2-3 at 145 pounds, most recently dropping consecutive bouts against Giga Chikadze and Bryce Mitchell after previously defeating Makwan Amirkhani and Shane Burgos.

In search of an even featherweight record, Barboza will face fellow entertaining striker Quarantillo (17-4) next. The 34-year-old New York native has exchanged wins and losses since 2020. Most recently, he rebounded from a decision setback against Burgos by knocking out divisional newcomer Alexander Hernandez at UFC 282 last month.

This featherweight contest was confirmed by Quarantillo on his OnlyFans account.

Pedro Munhoz vs. Chris Gutierrez – UFC Event TBA (April 15)

The April 15 card will also see the return of bantamweight veteran Pedro Munhoz, who’ll look to defend his ranking against the in-form Chris Gutierrez.

Munhoz (19-7) has competed in the Octagon since 2014, with his most notable victory coming via KO over former champion Cody Garbrandt in 2019. But while that result extended his win streak to three, he’s had his hand raised just once in six fights since. Either side of success against Jimmie Rivera sit a pair of two-fight skids, featuring losses to Dominick Cruz and Frankie Edgar. Most recently, the Brazilian had a bout with Sean O’Malley end in a no contest.

Having slipped to #9 on the bantamweight ladder, Munhoz will look to maintain his place in the top 10 when he meets Gutierrez (19-4-2). “El Guapo” has amassed an eight-fight unbeaten run, which most recently saw him end the career of Edgar with a brutal KO at UFC 281. Prior to that, he’d used a spinning back fist to stop Batgerel Danaa.

This bantamweight scrap was first reported by ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Contreras Legaspi.

Bobby Green vs. Jared Gordon – UFC Event TBA (April 22)

On April 22, a pair of notable unranked lightweights in Jared Gordon and Bobby Green will hope to rebound at each other’s expense.

For Gordon (19-6), the matchup marks his first since a controversial loss to rising star Paddy Pimblett at UFC 282 in December. While he’d hoped to follow up a victory over Leonardo Santos by stalling the Liverpool native’s hype, a unanimous decision went against “Flash,” much to the confusion of many.

Having evidently not had his calls for a rematch in London answered, Gordon will return a month later to face Green (29-14-1). “King” has exchanged win streaks and losing skids since 2018. Most recently, he had a two-fight run that saw him collect victories over Al Iaquinta and Nasrat Haqparast snapped by Islam Makhachev and Drew Dober, the latter of whom knocked Green out in a memorable comeback triumph at UFC Vegas 66 last month.

This lightweight fight was first reported by MMA Junkie.

Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simón – UFC Event TBA (April 22)

The April 22 event will also see an exciting clash of top-10 bantamweights go down as Song Yadong and Ricky Simón prepare to share the Octagon.

Yadong (19-7-1), the current #8 man in the division, established himself as one of the hottest prospects at 135 pounds with wins over Marlon Vera, Casey Kenney, and Julio Arce. Last March, he took a step towards contention by knocking out Marlon Moraes. Six months later, though, he fell short of the top five in his main event debut, with a nasty cut forcing a TKO via doctor stoppage prior to the final round against Cory Sandhagen.

Having impressed nonetheless, “The Kung Fu Kid” will look for an immediate rebound on April 22, when he meets the fighter sat two spot below him in the rankings, Simón (20-3). The 30-year-old Oregon native has won five straight en route to the top 10, including stoppages of Raphael Assunção and the previously unbeaten Jack Shore in his most recent two appearances.

This bantamweight matchup was first reported by Eurosport Nederland’s Marcel Dorff.

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

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