There are currently four fighters in the UFC rankings who boast unblemished records — headlined by interim heavyweight champ Ciryl Gane.
The Frenchman improved to 10-0 with his second-round TKO of Derrick Lewis at UFC 265. Meanwhile, who could forget Ilia Topuria’s statement at UFC 264 against Ryan Hall?
Fellow featherweight, Movsar Evloev worked his way to another decision win in his last outing at UFC 263. Philadelphia’s Sean Brady will look to continue his momentum from submitting Jake Matthews after he returns from injury.
Fights To Make
Ciryl Gane vs. Francis Ngannou
This one is obvious. It’s a showdown that’s inevitable, necessary, and compelling. “Bon Gamin” remains an unsolved puzzle as he continues to out-class far more experienced opposition. Gane has gone from newbie to interim champ in just three years of training MMA full-time.
Francis Ngannou is still the heavyweight champ, thus the inevitability of this matchup. “The Predator” has obliterated the competition after his back-to-back losses in 2018. He’s the most feared power striker in MMA, but he’ll likely be an underdog in his next fight.
That’s right, after dismantling Lewis the way he did, oddsmakers named Gane a slight favorite over Ngannou — who had been installed as a heavy favorite up until UFC 265. Gane will put his unbeaten record on the line in a title unification bout next year.
Movsar Evloev vs. Dan Ige
Russia’s Evloev has amassed five consecutive decision victories since entering the UFC in 2019 — improving his record to an impressive 15-0. Insert Dan Ige, who sits at No. 9 in the featherweight rankings. “50k” has dropped two of his previous three bouts, albeit against very tough competition.
Still, Ige has just one win over someone currently ranked, which came in the form of edging out Edson Barboza via split decision. Matching him with someone ranked behind him makes sense at this point in time. Movsar Evloev fits that bill precisely.
Moreover, their timelines line up nicely with both of their last fights happening in June. For Evloev, it’s a great test. It’ll give him a chance to make a statement — especially if he can become the first to finish Ige.
Sean Brady vs. Belal Muhammad
Welterweights Sean Brady and Belal Muhammad currently sit at No. 13 and No. 9 in the UFC rankings, respectively. When making the decision to match these two up, one must consider the fact that Brady had been scheduled to fight Kevin Lee before suffering an injury. Inactivity excludes Lee from the rankings, but he’ll immediately be inserted with a win at UFC Vegas 35.
In his last fight, Muhammad defeated Demian Maia by decision, but it wasn’t overly impressive — at least not enough to grant him a date with one of the division’s big names. Having the chance to steal Brady’s zero should motivate him to take the fight, despite Brady’s lower ranking.
It’d serve as a great gauge for both fighter’s wrestling pedigrees.
Ilia Topuria vs. Barboza/Chikadze Loser
Topuria just violently assaulted a great grappler in Hall, why not have him take on one of the division’s premier strikers? The fighter representing both Georgia and Spain is proving with each fight to be one of the most well-rounded rising talents in the sport. He’s ready for a test like Barboza/Chikadze.
The winner of the UFC Vegas 35 headliner will eye a fight with a top-five opponent, while the loser will slide back looking for a fight in the 11-15 range. Topuria currently sits at No. 15 in the UFC rankings (145lbs), making him an ideal fit for the Barboza/Chikaze (loser’s) next opponent.
Do you agree with these matchups? Drop your thoughts in the comment section!