â€œUFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwaâ€ is a thing of the past, but some meaningful results came out of the organizationâ€™s first European event of the year. Light heavyweight standout Alexander GustafssonÂ (16-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) was Saturdayâ€™s shining performer. He put away Jimi Manuwa (14-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) with ease in the main event, proving heâ€™s worthy for another shot at the 205-pound belt. Several other UFC Fight Night 37 competitors made noise. Lightweight Michael JohnsonÂ (15-8 MMA, 7-4 UFC) continued to show improvement with a decision win over Melvin Guillard (31-13-2 MMA, 13-9 UFC), Brad PickettÂ (24-8 MMA, 4-3 UFC) held off a game Neil Seery (13-10 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in his flyweight debut, and Gunnar NelsonÂ (12-0-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) put on a grappling clinic in the welterweight main-card opener.
After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, itâ€™s time to look forward, put on a pair of Joe Silvaâ€™s (and Sean Shelbyâ€™s) shoes, and play UFC matchmaker.
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Should fight: Winner of Kelvin GastelumÂ vs. Rick StoryÂ at UFC 172 Why they should fight: With an undefeated record 13 fights into his MMA career, including a spotless 3-0 UFC record, thereâ€™s no denying Icelandic grappling sensation Nelson is legit.
Nelsonâ€™s jiu-jitsu game is something to behold and translates incredibly well to MMA competition. So far, at least.
Before suffering the knee injury that kept him out of action for more than a year, he was slated to fight Mike Pyle in a matchup that wouldâ€™ve revealed a lot about Nelsonâ€™s potential as a welterweight contender.
While Pyle is currently available and could potentially be rebooked against Nelson, a much more intriguing proposition for â€œGunniâ€ is against the winner of next weekâ€™s UFC 171 bout between â€œTUF 17â€ winner Gastelum (7-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Story (16-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC).
Both men possess the wrestling background needed to contend with Nelsonâ€™s grappling and enough juice in their strikes to keep the European on his toes.
Regardless of which fight is put together, Nelson would get a serious test and find out very quickly what level of the game heâ€™s made for.
Should fight:Â Ian McCall Why they should fight: Pickett is in an enviable position in the UFCâ€™s flyweight division after taking out promotional newcomer Neil Seery (13-10 MMA, 0-1 UFC) by decision in his 125-pound debut.
As one of just two men to hold a victory over reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, Pickett wonâ€™t need to do much more to get a title shot in a division desperate for intriguing fights.
While the UFC could opt to have Pickett challenge â€œMighty Mouseâ€ in his next fight, it would be far better to let the Englishman have one more fight to adapt to the weight class.
Pickettâ€™s originally scheduled matchup with McCall (12-4-1 MMA, 1-2-1 UFC) was the perfect fight to gauge his ceiling at flyweight. Considering the two fighters have built up bad blood since the bout was scrapped, rebooking the fight is the right direction to go.
Should â€œOne Punchâ€ get past a tested veteran of the weight class in McCall, a fight with Johnson becomes all the more appealing.
Should fight: Winner of Donald CerroneÂ vs. Edson BarbozaÂ at UFC on FOX 11 Why they should fight: Having fought twice in just over two months, Johnson best play may be to take some time off and wait for his desired top-10 opponent to become available.
â€œThe Menaceâ€ has earned his crack against elite competition with three straight UFC victories, two of which came against some of the organizationâ€™s longest tenured fighters in Guillard and Gleison Tibau.
Many compelling lightweight bouts are scheduled for the coming months, but one Johnson should keep an extra close eye on is between Cerrone (22-6 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and Barboza (13-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 11 next month.
Both fighters are well rounded, but like Johnson, they prefer to stay on the feet and hunt for a highlight-reel knockout. How Johnsonâ€™s straight punches would fair against the kick-heavy offense of a Cerrone or Barboza would make for yet another canâ€™t-miss battle at 155 pounds.
Should fight: Winner of Jon JonesÂ vs. Glover TeixeiraÂ at UFC 172 Why they should fight: Gustafsson secured his own destiny in the UFC Fight Night 37 headliner.
UFC President Dana White made it known that a victory over Manuwa would lock up Gustafssonâ€™s spot as the No. 1 contender and his chance to fight for UFC gold once again.
The Swede held up his end of the bargain with a decisive performance, and now heâ€™ll have to wait patiently to see who emerges victorious in next monthâ€™s UFC 172 headliner between Jones (19-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Teixeira (22-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC).
The ideal situation would be for Gustafsson to take on Jones in a rematch of their epic five-round war at UFC 165 back in September. But while that seems like the most likely scenario, whatâ€™s possible today could be impossible tomorrow. For more on UFC Fight Night 37, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.