This is always a pretty obvious thing to discuss after an event. THere were pieces published on places like Bloody Elbow and Sherdog already published, and I'm sure we'll see one published here soon too. However, this is part of the fun of MMA. Discussing match ups and thinking about the stylistic match ups. If you want a concrete system where the matches are set in place the NFL is ---> that way. Yeah I want it to be a pure sport too, but lets stop pretending like match making ISN'T one of the fun parts of MMA. So lets get to it:
Ian McCall: Well the Flyweight division is pretty thin, but luckily for the UFC the top five fighters are all pretty good and each of them creates an exciting match up no matter how you match them up. So there's a few options here, namely John Moraga and John Dodson, but Dodson just lost his title fight and Moraga is coming of a will. So who do you take? The guy coming off a guy that's out of the top ten or a fighter losing a close fight to the king pin. Obviously there are still some questions about McCall/Mighty Mouse after their first fight and there's people rightfully clamoring to see it. I'd say he fights Moraga. Dodson probably takes someone else before getting back to the kingpin.
Joseph Benavidez: A lot of the things said about McCall can be said about Benavidez. There was one judge that thought that Benavidez took Johnson, and to be honest I could be talked into thinking the same thing too. There are some questions, though. Back to back losses to the Champ pretty much put him as a non-contender or gate-keeper role unless he finishes back to back top ten opponents, Johnson loses, or he beats three top ten guys in any fashion in a row. The Flyweight division's top five is stacked. Any given night I think any of McCall, Benavidez, Dodson, or Johnson could beat the other one. For me, Benavidez deserves the shot, he almost won the first one and had a good night against McCall. He took a judge from Cruz and he took at least two from Mighty Mouse. I'm saying he fights Johnson. For me if he loses in any way but a convincing fashion that shouldn't prevent him getting a future title shot two or three fights down the road.
Jon Fitch: We all know the book on him. Some people think he's boring, I think he's just good. He's a great grappler and did a yeoman's work keeping Maia from submitting him. He's at least five fights away from a title shot, but he's not a bad fighter. He was absolutely destroyed on Saturday night but we all know what he is. Great grappler, probably not an elite welterweight, but surely a good one. I think he should get the winner of Kos/Lawler. Koscheck had a pretty close fight with Hendricks, the current number one contender, and a pretty impressive resume. He also is pretty far away from a title shot. Lawler is going down from MW, and as we saw at 156 this might be the year of the upset. So Lawler could win too, I doubt it but it might happen. I think either way, the winner of this fight seems like a good opponent for Jon Fitch. Either way whoever wins that fight is more in the 12- 7 range at WW and given how stacked that division is quite a ways away from a shot at the strap. Each fighter would need a win against a legitimate opponent in order to get the conversation started. Jon Fitch is that guy. For Fitch, a win over either of these guys washes away the taste of such a brutal loss. Other options Nate Marquardt and Tarec Saffiedine.
Damien Maia: DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM, I think is the only way to describe what happened in the Fitch fight. I've never seen a "Jiu-Jitsu guy" look this aggressive. He came out like a man possessed and only allowed Fitch maybe thirty second of offense at the most. I was throughly impressed with his aggressiveness with the grapple. The fight to make after this is pretty obvious, and I agree with Sherdog and BE he should get the winner of Condit/Rory. With his recent performances the talk of Maia getting a title shot should be starting. Absolute beast on Saturday.
Alistair Overeem. Well...that happened. The fight between him and Cain would have been a great option for UFC's PPV after 159 and give them a great main event to follow up Bones, but alas that didn't happen. In terms of pro-sports I just assume that professional athletes are juiced, especially in contact sports, because if I were a pro athlete I would. The notion to do this "cleanly" or that anyone does this "cleanly" is ridiculous. As someone that exercises quite a bit and understands training there's a ton of grey area. Do I think Overeem went over the line? Absolutely. But who's to say that your favorite fighters or my favorite fighters juiced? However, Overeem acts like a massive tool and he did an LMFAO video. The later, IMO, is a capital offense. I'm glad he lost. If he ever looks that bad again he's pretty much done as a top flight HW and probably only has two fights left. I don't think he'll ever look that good. Maybe it's the lack of roids or maybe it's just JACO's awfulness (more on that later), byt whatever the cause if Reem wants to have a UFC career in the HW division this needs to change. Clearly, they don't want to give Cigano a rematch right away and Reem/Cigano is still a fight that you can sell to casual fans not to mention it's still a fight I like to see. The way I see it is this: either we see a barn burner and a motivated (or juiced, whatever) Reem versus a Dos Santos that's a man possessed wants to get his belt back, or we see Dos Santos smash the daylights out of someone. Win/win. The fight to make is Junior Dos Santos.
Bigfoot Silva: High five man, high five. I wanted him to win. I didn't like the way everyone glossed over him, as if he's there for the rest of the division's satisfaction sort of a stepping stone rather than him being there for his own competition. The lack of respect from everyone, myself included, was frankly uncalled for. I felt bad for him, he's a proud man, a true martial artist, the owner of three black belts, a very dangerous man, and a guy with a few good wins. He's a good dude, and besides that he's a human being with feelings. Sorry for going soft, but I felt bad for him going into the night's win. And lets be honest, there's no better guy for him to knock out than the Reem. However, he did get absolutely crushed by Cain and Cormier. So lets not pretend like he's jumping to the top of the line in title contention. He did lose the first two rounds and outlasted a guy that's way too big and was clearly gassed. Lets not act like he just beat Fedor in his prime or anything. But he is a good heavyweight. Shouldn't get Cain, though I wouldn't really argue if he did, but he should get someone good. I've heard Josh Barnett discussed, and that's a good option but I'd go a different route. Frank Mir, would be an interesting option. A guy that got brutalized by Dos Santos isn't getting a title shot before him regardless of what he does to Cormier. Unless he does to Cormier what he did to Big Nog, I don't see it happening. And lets be honest I don't see him knocking out DC or breaking his arm. Frank Mir wouldn't be a bad option. I could also see him getting Barnett or the winner of Hunt/Struve, but I want to see him get a big name.
Rashad Evans: Remember how impressive Silva's win was? Well yeah, Rashad's night was about the same, except reversed. I'm unsure if he's just lost, over the hill, scared, disinterested, or if he just had a bad night. His training camp certainly isn't doing him any favors, but I still think he's one of the better LHWs out there. There was talk of a big money fight with The Spider discussed so there goes that idea, for now, but he needs an opponent. I don't see him beating Jon Jones anytime soon, let alone deserving a shot, I guess I could see a cut to MW revitalize him. Force him to fight lighter, eat better, and speed up. Or I could see him basically taking over Rampage's role. Being a punching gate keeper (except with some wrestling) for the LHW division if Shogun is busy, but that seems like something of a waste. A lot of people are suggesting the Hendo/Machida loser, Shogun, or a Gus/Gregard's loser but I'm going a different route. Chris Weidman. There really isn't a clear future for him at LHW, and he needs to do SOMETHING to jumpstart his career. Furthermore, the Silva fight isn't out of the picture YET so why not have him fight Weidman? There's a saying I heard a long time ago that rings true in the UFC and everything else I've ever done: If it don't make dollars it don't make sense. Silva wants Weidman to do something else before fighting him and Rashad needs something to jumpstart him, so why not do this?
Rogerio Nogueira: Awesome night for him. He got a signature win on the back nine of his career. Couldn't have happened to a better person. The Nogueiras are true martial artists, MMA pioneers, and by all accounts great dudes. He's been overshadowed by Big Nog, and he got his moment in the sun. However, Rashad lost that fight more than Lil Nog won that fight. He was less awful that night. So lets not pretend like he might be some do something in the LHW division. I like Lil Nog and I'd like to see him close out with a few good wins. Sure he might do something later in his career, so lets match him up against a guy that's either cooked or needs a career resurgance. Shogun Rua. Two Pride guys and two guys sort of in limbo for LHW relevance. He'd be a good match up for him and it'd be a nice fight for the fourth fight on a stacked PPV, main event of a Fuel card, or a third fight on a Fox card.
Frankie Edgar: Any top BW. Frankie has taken a lot of abuse throughout his career. He got beaten by Aldo, and while I think Frankie might win in a rematch but that's only because Frankie does well in rematches and we really don't know how Aldo would do in a rematch. However, Frankie was still the smaller dude in the cage on Saturday. He's on the wrong side of 30 and he's been involved in some flat out WARS. He's a fan favorite, a guy you can market a PPV around, and an exciting fighter. If he stays at FW I'm unsure how many of those typical Edgar fights against bigger man he can take. He's proven he can fight the bigger dudes and beat them it's time for him to fight guys his own size. Find a good BW and there's your guy.
Jose Aldo: Anthony Pettis. This is clearly the match to make. Yes, I think a lot of the match making has been pretty crappy. Yes, I like the sporting pureness of the sport but lets be honest, this is entertainment. "If it don't make dollars, it don't make sense," this is a business and I don't think the UFC is in a financial position nor are the in a position relevance wise where they can avoid not making these big money exciting fights. This has fight of the year written all over it, and the UFC would be foolish not to make this fight for financial meetings and they need to make this fight for us. Why would ANYONE want to rob themselves of an exciting fight like this? Yes, the Korean Zombie and Ricardo Llamas deserve a title shot. But, the UFC also on the verge of taking a huge step forwards in terms of relevance in the sports world. With superstars like Bones, Rush, and the Spider fronting the organization it's time to capitalize and show off the talent. This is the fight to do it. You can have KZ/Llamas for the number one contenders fight or if Aldo beats Pettis and wants to fight a LW you could have it as the interim FW belt. It's Pettis' title shot and if he wants it at FW, why not? Two guys vying for second best striker in MMA, or maybe the the best going against each other? YES PLEASE!
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