After watching a stunning deconstruction of Junior dos Santos by Cain Velasquez at UFC 155, the heavyweights are rightfully on everyone's mind, but I can't help but give some attention to the bizarre situation unfolding in the UFC's middleweight division.
Namely, is Anderson Silva so powerful that everything that falls into his gravitational pull suffers some terrible fate? On the same day we found out that Silva was signing an epic 10-fight deal, he lost two prospective future opponents in Tim Boetsch and Alan Belcher. Those were just the latest setbacks for anyone targeting Silva.
Just dating back to the summer, Mark Munoz was knocked out, Hector Lombard was upset, Boetsch and Belcher lost, and Chris Weidman suffered an injury that will probably have him sidelined until early summer. And those are the guys who didn't even have to fight him. Getting into the cage with "the Spider" is just adding insult to injury at this point.
As a result of this madness, Michael Bisping may finally get the opportunity he's been asking about for years now. UFC president Dana White confirmed Bisping would earn a title shot as long as he beats Victor Belfort at UFC on FX 7. That's no lock, as Bisping is a small underdog. If he too falls, the Silva curse surrounding UFC middleweight contenders will no longer be deniable. Maybe Constantinos Philippou has the right idea when he says, "I don't want to fight him. I'd actually argue just to stay away from that guy."
On to the predictions …
There's no doubt that Velasquez looked revitalized in his rematch with dos Santos, a win that sets him on a likely collision course with Alistair Overeem. All the 'Reem has to do is get past Antonio Silva at UFC 156, and the matchup is a lock.
Prediction: Velasquez vs. Overeem on the Fourth of July weekend show
Junior dos Santos
Going into UFC 155, dos Santos had never lost a single round in his UFC career, and he proceeded to get stomped for five straight. It was a victory that was complete and unquestionable, so dos Santos certainly has plenty to go back and study.
Prediction: If Overeem loses to Silva, dos Santos-Overeem would be a natural pairing. If not, perhaps he draws someone on the periphery of the top 10, like Travis Browne.
Maybe it's too early to write off Miller as a lightweight title contender. Coming off his loss to Nate Diaz, Miller rebounded with an impressive win over one of the division's gamest fighters, out-striking him 96-40 and leaving a trail of blood in his wake.
Prediction: I'm dipping my toe in the Strikeforce pool on this one. Miller faces longtime divisional contender Josh Thomson.
For Lauzon, it was a second straight Fight of the Year candidate, a decent consolation for a year in which he went 1-2. Lauzon remains a consistently entertaining fighter, although he has yet to earn a signature win.
Prediction: He faces Michael Johnson
It was a bizarre finish to the fight, but he got the job done with a TKO of Tim Boetsch, a victory that extended his win streak to five in a row. That's the longest current streak of any middleweight not named Anderson Silva or Chris Weidman.
Prediction: A fight with Brian Stann would be interesting
I'm not sure how a judge could have given the fight to Wineland's opponent Brad Pickett given that Wineland out-landed him every round and did far more damage. At least the other two got the scoring right. Wineland always flashes some skills that make you think he's capable of big things. At 28, maybe his time is now.
Prediction: He faces Raphael Assuncao
"El Goyito" became the first UFC bantamweight to score three straight first-round finishes. This win probably was the most impressive of the group, not necessarily for the opponent level, but for the fact that he received a great deal of media attention before the fight, faced pressure and delivered.
Prediction: He faces Johnny Bedford
Over two years after his last octagon encounter, Duffee returned in a big way with a first-round finish of Phil De Fries. Now 27 years old and a member of American Kickboxing Academy, Duffee still has the prospect tag attached firmly on his back.
Prediction: He faces the winner of UFC 157's Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub fight