UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II is in the books and once again the Ultimate Fighting Championship delivered a solid night of mixed martial arts action. Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, Demian Maia and Chad Mendes were the big winners last night in Las Vegas as each picked up victories over their respective opponents.
After every fight card, fans wonder who the winners will be matched up with next. With another night of UFC action in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look forward and put ourselves in Joe Silva’s shoes to play UFC matchmaker.
Winner: Mike Easton
Who He Should Fight Next: Michael McDonald
Why They Should Fight: At this point in time, Michael McDonald vs. Mike Easton would be a match up between two of the top contenders in the bantamweight division. McDonald picked up a brutal knockout over Miguel Torres earlier this year and has been on the sidelines with a broken hand, but he should be ready to return to action relatively soon. After his win over Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148, Easton has now asserted himself into the top-10 ranking at 135-pounds. The styles of McDonald and Easton mesh well and it would make for an exciting fight with the winner very close to a title shot at 135-pounds.
Winner: Chad Mendes
Who He Should Fight Next: Cub Swanson
Why They Should Fight: With his second-round TKO of Ross Pearson a few weeks back, Cub Swanson earned himself a fight with a top-10 featherweight. The Greg Jackson trained fighter is in prime form having picked up back-to-back finishes over very tough opponents. Swanson proved worthy of top-flight opposition and after dominant win over Cody McKenzie, at UFC 148 Chad Mendes fits the bill. Swanson is primarily a stand up fighter and needs to be tested against a strong ground fighter if he wants to be considered among the best featherweight fighters in the world. Mendes is one of the best wrestlers out there at 145-pounds and would present a lot of problems to Swanson. The winner of this fight would be, at the very most, two or three fights away from a shot at Jose Aldo’s featherweight championship.
Winner: Demian Maia
Who He Should Fight Next: Siyar Bahadurzada
Why They Should Fight: Siyar Bahadurzada was recently forced off the UFC 149 fight card due to an injury, but the Afghan fighter is expected to return to the cage sooner than later. A match up with Demian Maia would be a great clash of styles. Bahadurzada would pose a huge threat to Maia on the feet due to his devastating knockout power while the Brazilian’s grappling and submission abilities are at a level unlike anything Bahadurzada has faced so far in his career.
Winner: Cung Le
Who He Should Fight Next: Loser of Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch
Why They Should Fight: UFC president Dana White hinted following the UFC 148 post-fight press conference Cung Le will fight on the organizations debut card in China this November, so look for the Vietnamese fighter to get back in the cage for that event. The question, though, is who will Le be pitted against? Rich Franklin, who was originally scheduled to face Le at UFC 148, is a potential opponent. But after Franklin’s win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147 that is not really a fight that makes sense anymore. Another option that sounded good was Chris Leben, but the “TUF” veteran is on the sidelines due to suspension. Middleweight fighters of Le’s caliber are slim-pickings and the best match up is probably the loser of Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch, who fight at UFC 149 in roughly two weeks time. Regardless of who it is, Le vs. Lombard or Boetsch would be fireworks as all three like to slug it out on the feet. The winner of the fight would be too far ahead in the rankings to face Le, but the former Strikeforce champion versus the loser would undoubtedly sell big as one of the featured bout in China.
Winner: Forrest Griffin
Who He Should Fight Next: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Why They Should Fight: Simply put, Forrest Griffin and Quinton Jackson have unfinished business. The two former light heavyweight champions fought at UFC 86 a few years ago with Griffin winning a close five-round decision to take Jackson’s title belt. Many believed the fight should have gone Jackson’s way or at the very least, been a draw. It didn’t happen that way, though, as Griffin was awarded the win. This rematch has been long in the making and with Jackson supposedly on his way out of the organization maybe a fight that he really wants would sway him into staying with the UFC. There is a good storyline between the two, it is a winnable fight for both, and the fans greatly enjoy seeing them compete. Griffin vs. Jackson II could sell as a co-main event on any PPV card.
Winner: Anderson Silva
Who He Should Fight Next: Rashad Evans
Why They Should Fight: About a week or so ago Rashad Evans expressed in an interview that he would be interested in dropping down to middleweight, but only if it were to fight Anderson Silva. With the middleweight division lacking a clear-cut number one contender, why not have Evans make this more to challenge Silva? Not only would it be a massive fight, it would draw a lot of eyeballs. Evans is one of the best fighters in the world and presents some interesting stylistic problems to Silva. Moreover, Evans tweeted after the fight saying, once again, he want Silva. Although “The Ultimate Fighter” season two winner has never competed in the weight class, he was accomplished enough in his career to warrant a title shot. Should the UFC be unable to make Silva vs. Evans, the winner of Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman or the winner Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch will probably be named the next number one contender.