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Top 6 Fights UFC Made Last Week

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Once again, a week where the UFC took off the week off from presenting fights was a week where they made some of the best fights in recent memory. Last week was a busy one for UFC matchmakers, who added a series of main event caliber matchups and interesting scraps to an already full lineup of late fall/early winter fights, which is sure to make the rest of the year in the UFC one to remember.

Here are the top six fights made last week. These only take into account fights that have been made official by the UFC, so fights that are still only rumored, such as Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir, aren’t on the list.

6) Cynthia Calvillo (6-0) vs. Carla Esparza (12-4)

UFC 219 (December 30, 2017) —  T-Mobile Arena —  Las Vegas, Nevada 

The eighth ranked Calvillo has had one of the best rookie years in the UFC in recent memory, winning three fights in four months. She choked out Amanda Cooper and Pearl Gonzalez in a four-week span last spring, then went to Scotland and beat Joanne Calderwood in her home country to win a razor close split decision in a very competitive fight in July. Next up, the eighth ranked former Cheesecake Factory worker draws the first UFC strawweight champion Esparza, who in many ways has never been the same since losing her title in being butchered by Joanna Jedrzejczyk in May 2015. She is 2-1 since and not only does her game seemed to have to not have developed at the pace of her contemporaries, she still fights in an almost shell-shocked fashion. She will be looking to take Calvillo down and pound her, but with Calvillo’s jiu-jitsu game, the Team Alpha Male product would prefer the fight on the ground. Unless Esparza can regain her Ultimate Fighter form, it looks to be easy money for Calvillo, someone the UFC can’t wait to promote.

5) Henry Cejudo (11-2) vs Sergio Pettis (16-2)

UFC 218 (December 2, 2017)  — Little Caesars Arena — Detroit, Michigan

These two top ranked flyweights were supposed to fight at UFC 211 in Dallas back in May, but Cejudo had to pull out of the fight because of a hand injury. That postponement looks to have worked out for all involved, as the fight has come back around again, bigger than ever, as a virtual elimination fight for the next shot at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. The fourth ranked Pettis went to Mexico City for his first main event in August and recovered from a rough first round to outpoint the streaking Brandon Moreno. Meanwhile, the second ranked Cejudo unleashed a whole new style of striking at UFC 215, knocking out recent title challenger Wilson Reis with a huge right hand. Both fighters have grown tremendously in the past year and while Cejudo looks to be the favorite now that his striking is starting to catch up with his Olympic Gold Medal wrestling, Pettis is on a four-fight winning streak and has overcome the kind of adversity that Cejudo hasn’t been able to in the cage. It will be a main event caliber scrap between these two in Detroit.

4) Cub Swanson (25-7) vs Brian Ortega (12-0), 1 NC)

UFC Fight Night Fresno (December 9, 2017) — Save Mart Center — Fresno, California

The UFC’s first show in Fresno will feature an excellent main event pitting red-hot long time contender Swanson versus in the surging Ortega, in a matchup that may have future featherweight title implications. The fourth ranked Swanson will be headlining his second show in a row, after setting records for significant strikes landed in his last fight with Artem Lobov. Swanson’s career was almost left for dead after consecutive losses to current champ Holloway and number one contender Edgar, but his Fight of the Year victory over Doo Ho Choi reignited his title hopes. The sixth ranked Ortega is coming off a come from behind third round submission victory over Renato Moicano at UFC 214 in July, where he lost the first two rounds before choking out the Brazilian with a guillotine in the third. The former RFA featherweight champion has stopped every opponent he’s faced in the UFC, and only inactivity has been his enemy. He has an amazing opportunity in what is certainly the biggest fight of his career. Meanwhile, another win for Swanson may just clinch him the title shot he’s been searching for. Swanson seems to be the more diverse and accomplished striker but Ortega’s top flight jiu-jitsu as well as physical strength will present a huge problem for the older fight. It’s a bang-up matchup.

3) Dominick Cruz (22-2) vs Jimmie Rivera (21-1)

UFC 219 (December 30, 2017) — T-Mobile Arena — Las Vegas, Nevada.

This fight may not be the best fight made in the past week, but it very well may be the most interesting fight, and it is the one that I am most surprised was actually made. Despite losing his belt to Cody Garbrandt last December, Cruz is still the best bantamweight ever, and would almost undoubtedly in line to get a rematch at whoever wins the title match at UFC 217, Garbrandt or TJ Dillashaw. Instead he is fighting the red-hot, yet still virtually unknown Rivera out of Long Island, New York. Rivera is undefeated in the UFC and is coming off big wins over Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida and is riding a ridiculous twenty fight win streak (although he did get knocked out by Dennis Bermudez on the Ultimate Fighter in 2011.) Cruz will be by far the best opponent Rivera has ever faced and will carry a four-inch height advantage into the cage. At the same Cruz has everything to lose and Rivera has everything to gain. The fourth ranked Rivera is the classic does nothing great, but everything good fighter with a lot of heart and is the kind of opponent that can expose Cruz if he isn’t 100 percent. But at the same time, Cruz commentated Rivera’s last fight and when Rivera called him out he said “keep my name out of your mouth, little man,” which tells me that Cruz sees something about Rivera he can beat. It’s a hella interesting matchup.

2) Alistair Overeem (43-15) vs. Francis Ngannou (10-1)

UFC 218 (December 2, 2017) —  Little Caesars Arena — Detroit, Michigan

All I can say is “Finally!” Finally we get to see Ngannou  the phenom from Cameroon via France who after starting to train only five years ago who has risen to the fourth ranked heavyweight in the UFC, stopping all five of his UFC opponents along the way  against a top flight contender. He is coming off an eleven month layoff, but in that time has transitioned from training in France to Las Vegas, training among the best fighters in the world. He will need everything he has learned in Detroit, as he faces Overeem, far and away the best opponent and striker he has ever faced. When it comes to experience and quality of opposition, it isn’t even close to a contest in Overeem’s favor. At the same time, Overeem has a lot of miles on him and has been stopped eleven times, which is not something you want when you are facing a 6’4, 255-pound monster with power in both hands. At the same time Overeem’s movement, angles, and greater versatility may lead him to outskill “The Predator” I can’t wait to see it.

1) Max Holloway (21-3) vs. Frankie Edgar (22-5-1) — UFC Featherweight Championship

UFC 218 (December 2, 2017)—  Little Caesars Arena — Detroit, Michigan

Just last night, the UFC made one of the best matchups that can be made in any division. The new featherweight champion Holloway, riding an incredible eleven fight win streak, overcame two strong rounds from longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo to stop him in the third in June in Brazil, and will be making his first defense of the undisputed title. Meanwhile, Edgar was in top form in Dallas in June, derailing the Yair Rodriguez hype train, taking him down and pounding him out in second round. The former lightweight champion is 7-2 at 145 and will be looking to only the fourth fighter to win titles in two different weight classes, while Holloway will be looking to cement his legacy as champion. Holloway is the more diverse striker, but Edgar has the better movement. Edgar is probably the best wrestler in the division, but Holloway is bigger and has excellent takedown defense. It’s an excellent matchup that I can’t wait to see, and good luck picking a winner.

"Frank has been a wrestling fan since he was two years old. (Don't worry, he's got proof.) He's also a huge boxing and UFC fan and has a long standing love affair with Popeyes Chicken. He still owns a VHS copy of the first Ring of Honor show ever and was watching NXT before it was cool (or good). Bret Hart > Shawn Michaels. You can follow him on Twitter at @FightFanaticPod and on Tumblr at FrankTheFightFanatic." He's also starting his own podcast soon!

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