Cub Swanson, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Demetrious Johnson and of course, Jon Jones were the big winners last night in Toronto as each man picked up significant victories on the main card.
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: Cub Swanson
Who He Should Fight Next: Erik Koch
Why They Should Fight: Talk about fireworks. Cub Swanson and Erik Koch are two of the most dynamic and dangerous strikers in the featherweight division and putting them in the octagon together is a plea for some violence. Swanson has had a career-changing year in 2012, winning three fights in a row, all by highlight reel knockout. Everything is starting to come together for the Team Jackson product as of late but before calling him a title contender, he must defeat a striker as dangerous as he is.
“New Breed” has not fought since Sept. 2011 and was supposed to challenge Jose Aldo for the featherweight championship on two occasions in 2012, but injuries to both Aldo and Koch strapped the fight both times. With former lightweight champion and now-featherweight Frankie Edgar seemingly jumping to the front of the line of title contenders, it appears Koch is going to need at least one big win before he can once again cement himself as number one contender. If Swanson and Koch are pitted against one another, don’t expect the fight to go the distance, there is a very good chance someone is getting put to sleep.
Winner: Matt Hamill
Who He Should Fight Next: Vinny Magalhaes
Why They Should Fight: Matt Hamill and Vinny Magalhaes earned solid victories against Roger Hollett and Igor Pokrajac at UFC 152 and are sitting in the middle of the pack in the light heavyweight division. Hamill and Magalhaes are both very skilled on the ground, but in two very different ways. Hamill is a decorated wrestler while Magalhaes has made a name as one of the most dangerous submission fighters on the planet as seen in his victory over Pokrajac. Hamill and Magalhaes are nowhere near being contenders in the 205-pound weight class but should they fight each other; the winner would move a couple steps towards that status.
Winner: Michael Bisping
Who He Should Fight Next: Vitor Belfort
Why They Should Fight: Michael Bisping is in a precarious situation in the middleweight division after his win over Brian Stann at UFC 152. A number of different options are open to “The Count”, however they all depend on how certain situations in the middleweight division play out.
Firstly, UFC president Dana White called a fight between Bisping and 185-pound champ Anderson Silva “interesting” following UFC 152. That bout is certainly a possibility, but it completely depends on when Silva -who fights Stephan Bonnar UFC 153 on Oct. 13- is ready to compete again after fighting for the second time in less than four months. Secondly, “The Ultimate Fighter” season 3 winner could be placed in a number one contenders match up with the winner of Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch, who meet at UFC 155 in December. The problem with the latter option is Bisping would likely have to wait until March-May 2013 to fight again, a long layoff for someone who has only fought twice in the last year. Bisping is a fighter who likes to stay active so that leaves him to fight a middleweight contender who is not currently booked. The only man currently ranked at 185-pounds without a fight is Vitor Belfort, who also fought at UFC 152. Belfort claimed at the UFC 152 post-fight press conference he is injured; however the extents of his injuries are unknown.
Having Bisping and Belfort fight each other makes sense stylistically and in terms of ranking. Belfort is a more complete and dangerous version of Stann and it would be interesting to see how Bisping deals with the Brazilian’s combination of speed and power. Belfort’s loss to Jon Jones at UFC 152 should have no effect on his place in the middleweight division and he is worthy of a fight against a fellow top contender in Bisping. A viable option going forward in the middleweight division would be to give a title shot to whichever man is most impressive in victory between Weidman, Boetsch, Bisping and Belfort. If for some reason Silva is unable to defend his belt, have the winners face each other.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of John Dodson vs. Jussiar de Silva at UFC on FX 5
Why They Should Fight: After becoming the first flyweight champion in history at UFC 152, it was reported Demetrious Johnson’s first title defense is already in the works. Johnson will attempt to defend his freshly earned strap for the first time against the winner of John Dodson vs. Jussier Da Silva, who meet at UFC on FX 5 on Oct 5. With “Mighty Mouse” having competed in a five-round war with Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152, there is no telling when he’ll be ready to return to action. Whoever Johnson faces, though, he’s in for a tough fight.
A match up between Johnson and Dodson would be a frantic battle. The combination of speed and athleticism both fighters possess is off the charts and one might be forced to turn the TV onto slow motion in order to properly comprehend the fight. With Dodson having a fairly big name from winning “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, having him challenge Johnson is the ideal situation for the UFC. On the flip side, Da Silva is a much lesser known fighter to the UFC audience, however he is equally if not more dangerous than Dodson.
At the end of the day, the UFC is going to get a competitive bout in the second-ever flyweight championship fight, so there should be no complaints no matter how it pans out.
Winner: Jon Jones
Who He Should Fight Next: Dan Henderson
Why They Should Fight: Even though Dan Henderson is rumored to face Lyoto Machida sometime in the near future, there is a strong contingent of people who believe “Hendo” should get the title shot he had scheduled for UFC 151 before he was injured and forced to withdraw from the bout. Henderson is one of the few light heavyweights left on the UFC roster who has not been dismantled by the young champion and the UFC needs to capitalize and make the fight instead of putting Henderson’s shot at risk against Machida, a man who was submitted by Jones in Dec. 2011.
The only hiccup regarding Jones’ next fight is the damage he suffered in his successful title defense against Vito Belfort at UFC 152. The 25-year-old had his arm severely damaged when the Brazilian locked in an armbar in the first round and nearly submitted Jones. “Bones” said at the UFC 152 post-fight press conference that he doesn’t know the extent of the injury, however he believes there may be nerve damage, an injury that would put him on the sidelines until at least the beginning of 2013.
It is a proven fact by now that a lot of the UFC’s matchmaking decisions are influenced by timing and fighter availability. If Henderson and Jones are both healthy and ready to fight around the same time, it’s the obvious choice to rebook the title fight that was supposed to happen at the canceled UFC 151 event.