“The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale” is in the books and once again the Ultimate Fighting Championship delivered a thrilling night of mixed martial arts action. Martin Kampmann knocked out Jake Ellenberger in the second round of their main event bout to move closer to a welterweight title shot. Also on the main card, Mike Chiesa, Charles Oliveira, Max Holloway and Justin Lawrence each picked up impressive victory 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: Justin Lawrence
Who He Should Fight Next: Myles Jury
Why They Should Fight: Fellow “TUF: Live” cast mates Justin Lawrence and Myles Jury picked up impressive victories at the “TUF: Live Finale” and will certainly get another UFC fight. To be honest, though, both men are fairly green in the sport and may not be ready for the stiff competition the UFC lightweight division has to offer. That’s why a fight against one another makes a lot of sense. The two fighters were on a collision course near the end of the season but failed to get by finalists Al Iaquinta and Mike Chiesa. Fans would still like to see the two clash inside the octagon.
Winner: Max Holloway
Who He Should Fight Next: Jimy Hettes
Why They Should Fight: Max Holloway and Jimy Hettes are two of the top up and comers in the UFC featherweight division. As displayed in his victory over Pat Schilling at the “TUF: Live Finale”, Holloway possesses dangerous striking abilities. However, the ground skills of “Blessed” would really be put to test against a high-level jiu-jitsu fighter in Hettes. Holloway was outclassed on the ground in his UFC debut against Dustin Poirier, it would be intriguing to see what kind of improvements he has made in that area should he fight Hettes.
Winner: Charles Oliveira
Who He Should Fight Next: Mike Brown
Why They Should Fight: If Mike Brown decides to continue fighting and not retire as he talked about after his win over Daniel Pineda at UFC 146, a match up with Charles Oliveira is bound to be exciting. Oliveira has looked extremely impressive as a featherweight and deserves a fight with a big name opponent after defeating Jonathan Brookins at “The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale”. While he may be Oliveira’s senior by 13 years, Brown is a wrecking machine who is not going to go down without a fight to anyone. The brute strength and grappling abilities of Brown are a handful for anyone; if Oliveira can get by the former WEC world champion it would prove he is ready to face the elite in the UFC at 145 pounds.
Winner: Mike Chiesa
Who He Should Fight Next: Paul Taylor
Why They Should Fight: If Paul Taylor can get healthy and make it through a training camp free of injury, the Brit would be a tough test for Mike Chiesa’s first post-TUF fight. Some recent winners of the show have not lived up to expectations coming off their finale wins and the blame for that can partially be placed on matchmaking. A fight between Taylor and Chiesa would be a classic striker vs. grappler fight and is a winnable contest for both men. Chiesa has shown glaring holes in his stand up while the same can be said for Taylor’s ground game. Each fighter is strongest where the other is weakest, which typically makes for a fun fight.
Winner: Martin Kampmann
Who He Should Fight Next: Johny Hendricks
Why They Should Fight: With welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre tentatively scheduled to return to the octagon against Carlos Condit this November, Johny Hendricks facing off against Martin Kampmann after his second round KO of Jake Ellenberger to determine who will challenge the GSP/Condit winner for the undisputed welterweight championship is simply the right fight to put together at this point. Hendricks is on a four-fight win streak and is 8-1 overall in the UFC after his victory at UFC on FOX 3, and is on the short list of contenders for a title shot. In most cases, both Hendricks and the Kampmann would have the resume to challenge for the belt, but with the division tied up, the fight simply makes sense. Winner is the clear-cut number one contender at 170 pounds. No argument could be made otherwise.
This article was written by Mike Bohn, founder and lead writer of FightCove.com. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @FightCoveMike. Also, be sure to follow @FightCove on Twitter and “Like” Fight Cove on Facebook.