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The Forward Roll: UFC 137 Edition

The roller-coaster ride that was UFC 137 has come and gone. We had opponent switches, main-event changes, retirements and plenty more.

Now that we've had time to catch our breath and reflect on what we witnessed, let's take a lot at what's next for some of the particulars.

Nick Diaz
This should be an easy one, but what's easy when you're talking about Diaz? He's about as predictable as lottery numbers, which is why we love him. Barring any future faux pas, Diaz has been carefully penciled into a Super Bowl weekend title match with Georges St-Pierre. It should be noted that Diaz was a media superstar all week long. We even saw him smile a few times. After going through a rough week to re-gain what he once had, expect Diaz to be there when the bell rings at UFC 143.

Prediction: As stated by the promotion, Diaz vs. St-Pierre on February 4.

BJ Penn
The longtime veteran said he was done after taking a beating at Diaz's hands over the last two rounds of their main event. But on Monday, Penn softened his stance a bit, releasing a statement saying he was taking some time off to "enjoy life, train and teach," before adding that he'd keep us posted on his next move. So it sounds like his future is still up in the air. At 32 years old, it can't be the end, can it?

Prediction: Penn takes a few months off, then returns to the UFC as a lightweight near mid-2012.

Carlos Condit
Wait, what? Condit didn't fight on UFC 137, so why is he here? Well, Condit's name is as relevant as any other after being booted from a title bout in favor of Diaz, so we need to get the man some action. He's not going to sit around and wait for his opportunity, because that would mean he was on the sidelines for a year. His manager Malki Kawa yesterday told MMA Fighting that he only wanted a fight with a top five welterweight.

Prediction: Jon Fitch would have been the perfect opponent here, but he's already scheduled for a December 30 match with Johny Hendricks. I would reshuffle the duck and make Condit-Fitch, but since UFC doesn't like to do that sort of thing too often, I say he fights Josh Koscheck.

Cheick Kongo
Saturday wasn't Kongo's best performance but he got the job done in a unanimous decision over Matt Mitrione. Kongo is in a tricky spot in the division's depth chart. He's not high enough to be put into the title hunt, but he's also too good to match up with some of the fighters on the way up. That leaves him best suited for veterans in the same position. I've got just the guy.

Prediction: He faces Roy Nelson

Roy Nelson

Prediction: See above.

Matt Mitrione
A loss at this stage of Mitrione's career isn't the worst thing in the world. He needed a move up in opponent level to learn something, and he certainly walked away from the loss to Kongo with a few lessons. The first is he has to have the ability to make adjustments during the course of the fight. You can go in with a great game plan, but once your opponent renders it useless, you have to be able to go to plan B. The second is that his wrestling still needs work. Kongo sealed the victory with two takedowns in the third.

Prediction: He faces Dave Herman in the spring.

Hatsu Hioki
As possibly the last best hope for Japanese fighters to win a title in the UFC, Hioki faced big pressure and big expectations against George Roop, and he nearly got derailed, scraping by on a split-decision. It wasn't a spectacular performance, but since it was his octagon debut, maybe we should give him a pass. At any rate, we did learn that he was not quite yet ready for Jose Aldo. Not surprisingly, within a day of the win, the UFC announced that Chad Mendes would get Aldo next. It's just as well. Hioki needs to convince folks that he's a real threat to the crown, and that will require a more dominant win.

Prediction: Erik Koch sounds like a solid opponent.

Brandon Vera
It was a bit of an uneven fight for Vera, who narrowly edged out the first two rounds and then had to survive a third-round knockdown at the hands of Eliot Marshall, who has never been considered a big-time puncher. At any rate, it was a desperately needed win for Vera, who likely would have been bounced from the UFC again had he lost. Given Vera's cost (he made $120,000 total for the win), don't expect him to get anything easy next time around.

Prediction: He faces Bulgarian powerhouse Stanislav Nedkov.

Bart Palaszewski
He's been on a nice tear lately, winning five of six now after knocking out Tyson Griffin on the prelims. Though he seems like he's been around forever, Palaszewski is just 28 years old, and has to be considered an intriguing name in the featherweight division after dropping from lightweight.

Prediction: He faces the winner of UFC 141's Diego Nunes vs. Manny Gamburyan fight.

Donald Cerrone
We already know that Cerrone will take on Nate Diaz in the UFC 141 co-main event. It's simply worth noting that Cerrone can become the first UFC fighter to win five fights in a year since Roger Huerta did it in 2007.

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