One thing about being the second-largest MMA company in the marketplace is more latitude to try new things.
After A.J. McKee (15-0) scored an eight-second knockout of Georgi Karakhanyan (28-10-1), the match most wanted to see was a title shot against Freire. But when selections got underway, McKee pushed hard for a fight with Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4). A cageside commotion involving Darrion Caldwell (14-3) and Freire could have been an easy segue to a fight. And yet after the drawing and picks, that matchup went by the wayside.
McKee got the first pick, and he chose to fight in December, figuring he was unscathed and ready to fight as soon as possible.
While no cities have been announced, the belief is that the December show will be in Honolulu and the January show will be the Jan. 25 date at the Forum in Los Angeles. The other possible dates to choose could be in February or March.
Even with the goading by McKee, Sanchez wound up choosing Weichel, seemingly picking the fight he felt was the most favorable to him. Derek Campos (20-9), took the opposite approach and picked a fight with McKee, arguably the most impressive name on the board. Campos would be considered a substantial underdog, so it made sense to swing for the fences.
John McCarthy, the champion was told he could choose his opponent for his next title defense among the seven fighters who had also advanced. In doing so, he could knock off someone who had already chosen his date and opponent.
The people wanted him to choose McKee, but they would have accepted Caldwell or Sanchez.
Keeping with the theme of unexpected twists, Freire chose Carvalho, meaning Caldwell would face Borics in January.
JARED CANNONIER – Cannonier (13-4) established himself as a major player in a wide-open middleweight division with a great stoppage win over Jack Hermansson.(20-5).
With Paulo CostaRobert Whittaker (20-4) vs. Israel Adesanya (17-0), Cannonier should face the winner of the Nov. 2 madison square garden fight with Kelvin Gastelum (15-4) vs. Darren Till (17-2-1), with the idea that winner gets a title shot after Costa.
GILBERT BURNS – Burns (18-3) took the third round to clinch a decision over crowd favorite Gunnar NelsonBen Askren (19-1) vs. Demian Maia (27-9). If not, another good opponent would be Michael Chiesa (16-4).
NICOLAS DALBY – The Copenhagen crowd went crazy for the denmark native, who took control in rounds two and three to win the decision over Alex Oliveira. Dalby (18-3-1) called out Mike Perry (13-5), a fight that would make sense provided the timing works out.
Dalby also said he wanted to fight on Dec. 14 in Las Vegas, and if Perry isn’t possible, Geoff Neal (12-2) also makes sense.