Unified MMA returned for their first event of 2022 and featured Shane Campbell extending his win streak to five straight, an all out war between KB Bhullar and Strahinja Gavrilovic, and the return of Ryan Ford off a seven-year layoff from MMA. The replay of Unified MMA 43 is available now on UFC Fight Pass.
Keep in mind, in most cases, the matchups listed here are hypothetical and have not been announced or rumoured to be taking place, unless otherwise noted.
Let us know your thoughts on who should be next for the big winners and the rest of the card, and who you think would win our hypothetical matchups.
Shane Campbell (22-8) vs. Adam Assenza (15-6)
We’d just be beating a dead horse at this point to say the UFC should give Campbell another shot. There are a couple regional lightweight fights that still make sense for him and Assenza is the most fitting. Campbell and Assenza are the top lightweights in Canada outside the UFC and in this dog-eat-dog world they may have to go through one another to get to the upper echelon.
KB Bhullar (11-3) vs. Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (9-1)
Bhullar has put together a pair of impressive victories in his last two outings inside the Unified cage and is now 3-1 since his UFC release. Bhullar, like Campbell, may need to go through another top-ranked middleweight who is on the UFC’s radar in Ksiazkiewicz. As a little bonus, it would be an opportunity for The Bengal to get some revenge for his teammate, Graham Park, and either regain his Unified MMA middleweight title or take Ksiazkiewicz’s super middleweight title.
Ryan Ford (23-5) vs. Brandt Dewsbery (15-4-1)
Considering Ford returned from a seven-year hiatus from MMA to focus on his boxing career, you likely would’ve cashed in huge betting on a submission win in his return. Ford shook off some rust and got the job done against Dawond Pickney last weekend and there are some fun fight possibilities with Unified. Dewsbery also recently returned from a lengthy layoff and with the experience and finish rate of these two, it would be almost guaranteed fireworks.
Neal Anderson (11-4) vs. Tom O’Connor (9-2)
Anderson rebounded beautifully with a decisive victory over a very tough Lucas Neufeld and took a step towards a possible rematch for the featherweight title. If Unified wants him to engage in a number one contender fight first, O’Connor would be a man that fits the bill. Both are well-rounded and would provide a solid test for one another.
Zack Powell (5-1) vs. Tyler VanKill (2-0)
Powell continued his impressive pro career and rebounded from a close split decision loss in his last outing with a grappling-heavy shutout over Cole Campbell. Powell could be poised for a quick rise in the rankings and a battle with submission specialist VanKill would be an interesting challenge. VanKill can hit submissions from anywhere and would certainly fast-track his career if he could catch Powell and steal his shine.
Ali Charkie (2-1) vs. Thomas Richardson (6-1)
Charkie put in a dominant win over a very tough Sandeep Sran last weekend. Charkie has been showing improvement in his cardio and pacing and could definitely do with a step up in competition. Richardson has been out of the game for a bit, but was set to make a return awhile back. Richardson would be a very tough matchup for Charkie, but if he can get the win he knows he can hang. The lower end of the 175-pound weight class is pretty shallow, so he’ll have to take a big step.
Mac Laursen (1-1) vs. Phil Engeroff (2-0)
What can you say about Laursen last weekend? The man lost about fourteen minutes of his fight before snatching Celis’ neck and finishing the rear-naked choke for the improbable victory. It’s hard not to admire his heart and toughness when many fighters would’ve conceded defeat at that point in the fight. Engeroff would provide another tough test for Laursen and while Engeroff is primarily a striker, he has a pair of submissions to his name and could be dangerous anywhere for Laursen.