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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Valentina Shevchenko and UFC 215's other losing fighters?


(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 215’s winning fighters?)

UFC 215 took place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with a five-fight pay-pay-per-view main card.

Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) fell short of claiming the UFC women’s bantamweight title in the headliner when she suffered a split-decision loss to Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) to experience her second UFC blemish, both of which have come against “The Lioness.”

Some other fighters suffered notable losses, as well, with Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC) and Wilson Reis (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) suffering stoppage losses, and Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Gilbert Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) falling short on the scorecards.

After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 215’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Gilbert Melendez

Jason Knight

Should fight: Jason Knight
Why they should fight: Melendez’s experimental drop to the featherweight division didn’t go according to plan against Jeremy Stephens, and now the former Strikeforce champion is sitting on a four-fight losing skid and is winless over a nearly four-year period.

Although he’s had two title shots and a “Fight of the Year” contender with Diego Sanchez in 2013, Melendez’s run in the UFC can likely be summed up as disappointing, especially when considering only the number of wins and losses.

At 35, it remains to be seen if Melendez will want to continue to fight much longer, especially with ownership of his own gym and an analyst gig with ESPN. Assuming he wants to continue, and stay at featherweight, a number of interesting fights are available in the division.

A slugger such as Knight (20-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) could potentially bring out the best in Melendez, and if it went the other way, Knight would add a legitimate name to his resume following a knockout loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC 214 in July.

Tyson Pedro

Gian Villante

Should fight: Gian Villante
Why they should fight: Pedro experienced the first defeat of his career when he fell short with a unanimous-decision loss to Swedish powerhouse Ilir Latifi.

After a six-fight winning streak to begin his career, Pedro couldn’t rise to the level of his most elite opponent to date, and that shows he’s not quite ready for the higher-tier fighters in the light-heavyweight division.

A matchup with Villante (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) wouldn’t be a big step back from Latifi, but he would present a winnable fight for the Australian that would also afford him a chance to add a notable name to his resume.

Wilson Reis

Brandon Moreno

Should fight: Brandon Moreno
Why they should fight: After being handed a brutal beatdown at the hands of flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson earlier this year, Reis took an even more one-sided loss when Henry Cejudo knocked him out cold in the matchup of former title challengers.

Reis was unable to accomplish anything in just over a round of cage time with Cejudo, and he got picked apart and ultimately finished with a series of second-round strikes. It’s unfamiliar territory for the Brazilian, who had never been finished in the UFC prior to this current skid.

Given the nature of his past two fights, it would probably be in Reis’ best interest to take a little time off. Once he’s recovered and recharged, though, a bout with fellow grappling specialist Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) would be as compelling as any other available option at 125 pounds.

Neil Magny

Gunnar Nelson

Should fight: Gunnar Nelson
Why they should fight: After sitting out for eight months, Magny suffered a setback in his return to the octagon in the form of a first-round submission loss to former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.

Magny has been stellar over the past few years, but in recent fights, he’s run into some issues that have prevented him from getting his hand raised. The American will need to make some adjustments in order to reach greater heights in the division, but many compelling matchups remain.

Nelson (16-3-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) dangerous ground game and evolving striking would clash well with Magny’s versatile offense and defense. Both men would enter the fight off a loss, meaning even greater stakes and risk when they share the octagon.

Valentina Shevchenko

Should fight: Sara McMann
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Shevchenko should fight McMann (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) next after her title-fight loss.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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