This article is part of our MMA Barometer series.
It is the end of an era for the UFC, as primary matchmaker Joe Silva will part ways with the company as early as the end of 2016. Silva has been with the company for 21 years and served as the primary matchmaker since 2001. Since Sean Shelby joined the company a few years ago, he has been tasked with making matches for the lightweight division and above.. In a 2013 article for MMAJunkie.com, Silva and Shelby talked about the stress and complexities that go into matchmaking, and that undoubtedly contributed to Silva's decision to retire.
Furthermore, Silva had a stake in the company, and allegedly made a considerable financial gain when the company was sold by Zuffa to the WME-IMG group. Much speculation suggests that this was part of the motivation for Silva to retire.
With social media backlash from lackluster fights and constant second-guessing from UFC fans, it is a thankless job to be a UFC matchmaker. Over the years, Silva has put together iconic matches and exciting fights, and his presence will surely be missed. Largely a behind-the-scenes cog in the UFC machine, Silva is not well known to the casual fan. However, to more passionate fans he did not go unnoticed, and we can only hope Shelby can take over and be as knowledgeable and successful at matchmaking in the heavier weight classes moving forward.
Farewell and happy trails to Joe Silva – thanks for a phenomenal 15 years of epic fights!
As always, below is your MMA barometer with rising, falling, and check status fighters.
Jimmie Rivera is undefeated in the Octagon with three victories in a row. After debuting with an impressive first-round knockout of UFC veteran Marcus Brimage, Rivera has looked impressive with decision wins as he has stepped up in competition. Rivera is a formidable striker with a lot of power, and he is able to comfortably throw punches without hesitation. Much of this is due to a solid grappling ability, as the bantamweight calmly enjoys 100 percent takedown defense in his three UFC appearances. His strongest attribute is an overhand right, which he landed on Brimage in his debut. He also found a home for that right hand multiple times in a fight-of-the-night performance against Iuri Alcantara in his most recent bout.
Rivera has been impressive thus far in his UFC career, but he will certainly face his biggest test Saturday against Urijah Faber at UFC 203. Faber is past his prime, but he is still the No. 2-ranked UFC bantamweight, and his only losses at bantamweight have come in title fights. Rivera has fought tough UFC veterans in his three-fight UFC career, but nobody near the championship level that Faber has competed at throughout his tenure with the promotion. The most interesting aspect of this fight will be whether Rivera can continue to effectively use his takedown defense. With a veteran, elite grappler like Faber, this could be the first time Rivera has to show his ground game off of his back, and if he is not up to snuff, it could be a long night against a talented martial artist like Faber. However, after seeing Faber's chin begin to fail him against Dominick Cruz, it could be problematic for Faber if Rivera is able to find a home for his overhand punches. As it sits right now Rivera is the betting favorite, but the result of this bout will be telling of whether Rivera is ready to compete at the championship level in the bantamweight division.
Next Fight: Urijah Faber, UFC 203: Miocic vs. Overeem (Sept. 10, 2016)
"The Dirty Bird" was back with a vengeance after a six-month suspension for a tainted supplement. Late replacement Sabah Homasi was a game opponent, but simply was not prepared for the pressure Means brought in their fight at UFC 202. Means used his excellent Muay Thai technique to carve up Homasi's face en route to his sixth victory in his last seven fights. After the minor setback with his suspension, Means is poised to enter the top 15 of the welterweight division, and possibly make a title run. His superior technique and reach for the welterweight division make him a difficult matchup for any opponent in the weight class, particularly strikers. The only issue is each time "The Dirty Bird" has stepped up in competition, he has suffered a loss. His last two losses were to highly-ranked Neil Magny and Matt Brown. This is a trend Means will have to reverse, but after his performance against Homasi, it is clear Means has improved as a mixed martial artist. It seems he is ready to make the jump to start defeating highly ranked opponents.
Next fight: TBA
Although it has only been one fight, it seems clear that Anthony Pettis will be a problematic matchup for any UFC featherweight. Pettis had a successful debut at 145 lbs. by submitting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Charles Oliveira in the third round at UFC Fight Night on Aug. 27. Even though he was on a three-fight losing streak in the lightweight division, Pettis looks like he will be able to deal with pressure grappling more efficiently at featherweight. Toward the end of his run at lightweight, it seemed as if Pettis was struggling, being held against the fence and taken down often. In his fight with Oliveira, however, he was more successful at grappling on the ground even though he was taken down a number of times. With a finish against a top-10 opponent, "Showtime" is immediately in the title picture at featherweight.
Just like at lightweight, Pettis will be a very dangerous fight for any striker at featherweight. His outstanding kickboxing gives him a chance to finish any fighter in the new weight class. The only issue is how much of a toll the added weight cut will take on Pettis's cardio. He seemed to fade in the second round against Oliveira before catching a second wind, and he ended up coming away with the victory. However, he is using famed nutritionist Mike Dolce to cut the extra weight, so that should not be something that has an impact on his performance in the future. Furthermore, Pettis is splitting time between camps with part of his camp being spent in Albuquerque at Jackson-Winkeljohn, and the other part at Roufusport in Milwaukee. With the new and improved training camp and smaller opponents, Pettis may be poised for a title run at featherweight.
Next Fight: TBA
After suffering a knockout loss to Anthony Johnson in less than 10 seconds at UFC 202, Teixeira should suffer only a minor setback in the UFC light heavyweight rankings. Even though it is a loss, it is not representative of Teixeira as a mixed martial artist. There is no shame in getting caught with a big punch from Anthony Johnson, as that seems to happen to most of his opponents these days. Knowing how much power each fighter possesses, there wasn't too many ways the fight could have gone other than somebody getting knocked out. It happened to be Teixeira who made the first wrong move, and he suffered the consequences.
This should not discourage daily fantasy players from selecting Teixeira for future bouts. He is an incredibly durable fighter (unless he is fighting Johnson) and one of the most well-rounded in the division. He was also riding an impressive three-fight winning streak with three finishes prior to the Johnson fight. Teixeira may have been on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout, but he is still a talented fighter, and will be a difficult matchup for anybody in a relatively shallow UFC light heavyweight division.
Next Fight: TBA
Following his first-round submission loss to Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night on Aug. 27, Carlos Condit must take a long, hard look in the mirror and decide if he should continue fighting. He has hinted at retirement ever since his split-decision loss to Robbie Lawler in January, and the Carlos Condit who fought against Maia is certainly not "The Natural Born Killer" UFC fans have known. Maia is undoubtedly a tough opponent and one of the very best welterweights in the world, but Condit has not suffered a first-round loss in his entire UFC career. Condit certainly has the physical tools to stack up against the best welterweights in the world, but the question is whether he can mentally lock in to compete.
As stated above, Condit has hinted at retirement since his decision loss to Robbie Lawler. He has been through a lot of wars in his career, so there would be no shame in hanging up the gloves at this point. However, it is important for Condit to be either all-in or retire. Relying on numerous podcasts with fighters who have either retired from the fight game or are still fighting, it is very important for fighters to have the will and fire to compete and train hard. If a fighter has any doubts about whether they actually want to fight it is a mistake for them to continue to fight, and that seems to be the crossroads Condit is at this time. If he can find the drive to compete, it would be great to see Condit continue to put on exciting fights, but if he continues to hint at retirement and takes a new fight, it is hard to imagine Condit performing at his best.
Next Fight: TBA
Saturday's matchup represents a pivotal fight for Eye, as she has suffered three straight unanimous decision losses and been defeated in four of her six UFC fights. If Eye loses her fight this weekend to Bethe Correia, she could find herself on the way out of the UFC. One of Eye's main problems is her grappling deficiency, which showed in her fights with Julianna Pena and Sara McMann. If Eye wants to be able to compete with the elite fighters of the women's bantamweight division, she will need to develop better takedown defense and a better ground game off of her back. Fortunately, that should not be an issue in her fight with Correia this weekend.
Eye's choice of fighting style is to stand and bang with her opponent. Leslie Smith obliged in 2014, and found herself on the wrong end of a beating from Eye which resulted in a doctor's stoppage in the second round. Correia has the same fighting style, so it should be a wild affair on Saturday. The fight could easily be fight of the night, and is very favorable to Eye's style. She has a good chance to break her losing streak based on her past success when she is challenged in the stand-up.
Next Fight: Bethe Correia, UFC 203 Miocic vs. Overeem (Sept. 10, 2016)