Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
There's no question that Chan Sung Jung was the standout of Tuesday's UFC on FUEL 3 card. The "Korean Zombie" always manages to come across like a star, and that's precisely why it wouldn't come as a great surprise if he was elevated into a title match with the winner of this summer's Jose Aldo-Erik Koch featherweight championship scrap.
There are those that believe that Jung's three UFC wins over Leonard Garcia, Mark Hominick and Dustin Poirier aren't quite enough to vault him over Hatsu Hioki, but Hioki effectively boxed himself into a corner by turning down a proposed title shot with Aldo.
Jung on the other hand, asked for it. If UFC president Dana White has showed anything over time, it's that when an athlete volunteers for big fights and has some semblance of a resume behind him, he's willing to consider the request.
Chan Sung Jung
Let's look into the future, since that's what we do here, and assume that as most expect, Aldo beats the young upstart Koch. In that case, White and matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby will only have a couple of options. Hioki will face Ricard Lamas about one month before Aldo-Koch, and Hioki will have a solid case with a win. Dennis Siver and Yuri Alcantara are two other possibilities. And then there is Jung. Let's face it, out of that group, Jung has the highest recognition factor among fans to go with a strong recent stretch. He's getting the title shot. Book it.
Prediction: He faces the Aldo-Koch winner
For some reason, Poirier thought it necessary to apologize after the fight. This isn't uncommon, of course. Lots of fighters do it. Yet it was totally unnecessary. Poirier fought bravely and aggressively throughout, and that's frankly all that he owes the fight game. Because he's just 23 years old, I'd venture to say his best days are still ahead of him. He seems like the conscientious type who will make sure he takes his lessons from this loss and applies it into his career going forward. On top of that, he's young enough that he'll continue to gain strength and improve technique, and within 12-24 months, he'll back back in the title picture again.
Prediction: He takes a step back and fights the loser of May 26's Darren Elkins vs. Diego Brandao fight
As usual, after winning, Cerrone had a concrete idea of the timing of his next match. This time around, he's not asking to fight again in six weeks, but has his eye on the UFC 150 card in Denver (Cerrone is originally from Colorado). If that is to happen, the UFC would have to pair him up with someone who was available, and on some type of streak of their own. There's one name that makes perfect sense: Anthony Pettis. The only hangup here is that Pettis recently had surgery for an undisclosed injury, and according to his manager, he's not going to be ready in time. Cerrone vs. Pettis is the idea match. This is going to be a tough call for the UFC, of whether they give Cerrone a match at home, or have him wait a few more weeks to face Pettis.
Prediction: Due to any uncertainty about Pettis, UFC gives the local attraction Cerrone a Denver match against T.J. Grant or Mark Bocek
According to FightMetric, Pokrajac was out-struck by Fabio Maldonado 166-64 but still was awarded the decision win by the judges. It was certainly not an easy fight to judge, as Pokrajac landed several heavy strikes that hurt his opponent, scored the fight's only takedown and absorbed most of Maldonado's offense without looking the worse for wear. Still, given Maldonado's astounding connect percentage of 77.2%, Pokrajac is going to need to improve his defense to extend his three-fight win streak.
Prediction: He fights the winner of UFC 146's Kyle Kingsbury vs. Glover Teixeira bout
It was a quick night of work for Lawlor, who needed less than a minute to knock out Jason MacDonald, his first finish by strikes since his pre-UFC days back in 2007. The colorful middleweight has split his last six fights, so still ranks somewhere among the middle of the divisional pack. Next up, finding some consistency.
Prediction: I originally thought of Rafael Natal for Lawlor, but since he's taken, how about Francis Carmont?
Rafael dos Anjos
dos Anjos has proven to be a maddeningly frustrating fighter, because he seems to look great one fight, then seems to regress the next time out. Tuesday's edition was the world-beater, scoring a quick submission finish of Kamal Shalorus shortly after a headkick knockdown. In his nine-fight UFC career, dos Anjos is 5-4, and while he seems to show improvements to his striking, it's his wrestling that has gotten him in trouble in the past. In beating a former international amateur wrestler Shalorus, he didn't necessarily extinguish that demon, but it's a start.
Prediction: Evan Dunham seems like a good fit, but his recent injury might make a date between the two impossible, so if he's not available, let's slot him in against the recently victorious Michael Johnson.
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