The UFC has been on quite a roll with UFC on Fox as a whole so far; they’ve kind of begun to find the perfect formula. UFC on Fox cards have essentially become the PPV’s that people would complain about not wanting to buy; loaded with talent but without the sexy headliner. That’s what you’d call last night’s main card, of course, as it had plenty of implications but not a ton of proven draws. It was a great card, too, as there wasn’t a boring fight to be found. Now the toughest job in the UFC comes up: what to do with the five most intriguing winners (and losers) from tonight’s card.
Anthony Pettis vs. the winner of Benson Henderson vs. Gil Melendez – Pettis punched his ticket to a title fight with a brutal knockout of Donald Cerrone. I imagine television didn’t do it just because you couldn’t hear how vicious it sounded when shin connected with liver. The crazy thing is that he pulled off a variant on his Showtime kick with his knee that was just exceptionally beautiful as well. Pettis looked ready for another go with Benson, or whoever has the title, and I think he waits for the title shot.
Demetrious Johnson vs. the winner of Ian McCall vs. Joseph Benavidez – Flyweight doesn’t have a #1 contender waiting in the rings right now so I think a rematch with McCall or Benavidez will probably make the most sense right now. The problem with flyweight is that it isn’t deep with people, just deep in talent. Most of the best are in the UFC but they haven’t stacked up with the guys underneath the Top 15 or so fighters. Louis Gaudinot might be in this slot as well; flyweight is up in the air right now. Trying to find another contender for the flyweight title is tough at this point as the UFC has solid rematches waiting as well as a handful of new opponents as well. John Moraga could be in the mix as well as John Lineker.
Glover Teixiera vs. the winner of Rashad Evans vs. Little Nog – Glover looked great last night, as Rampage was game and whatnot and he looked on the cusp of elite. He didn’t look quite elite just yet, I think. He looked ready for a title shot but needs some seasoning to really make it matter and I think he gets the winner of next week’s LHW scrap in a title eliminator. It all depends who wins; if it’s Rashad then maybe, if it’s Little Nog then definitely. The UFC wants Glover in the title mix so it’ll be a matter of timing one imagines.
Ricardo Lamas vs. the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo – Lamas punched his ticket to a title shot, plain and simple.
Ryan Bader vs. Shogun Rua – That guillotine was a thing of beauty and it was kind of interesting to see him win a fight with it after Tito choked him out two years ago in the same exact fashion. Bader’s elite as a light heavyweight but he’s become the gatekeeper to the very elite, for lack of a better word. You can’t consider him anything less than maybe 5 or 6 in the division at worst. He’s just lost to high level guys; no shame in losing to Machida or Jones at this point. Rua is coming off a loss but I think Bader makes sense for him at this point.
Mike Russow vs. Dave Herman- Russow looks to be about wrapping up his UFC career as he’s lost two in a row and he’s not getting any younger. He looked good against Shawn Jordan for a brief moment, of course, and I think he’s in make or break for his career. He’s no longer a Top 10 talent the more he’s been fighting but he has some value as he’s a tough out. Herman’s the biggest case of a fighter who seemingly just doesn’t care about being a fighter. The guy has so much talent and he has just been kind of skating by on it. Another loss and one of these fighters is going to be looking to the regional scene for some action.
Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon – Cerrone and Lauzon both got close to being in that title mix and failed. But both are still Top 10 guys, you’d have to think, and neither are dull fighters. If you want a fight of the year candidate give them a Fuel TV main event internationally, five rounds to settle the score and magic ensues. Most importantly both are coming off losses, as well, and you could throw this on a late spring card.
John Dodson vs. the loser of Ian McCall vs. Joseph Benavidez – Dodson faded against Johnson but he looked like an elite flyweight in the world. And I think he gets a rematch in the near future as he showed he has the talent to win. Malki Kawa in the media room before the card was discussing about how much of a freak athlete Dodson is, better than anyone in Jackson’s gym, and I believe him. He just needs to work on being able to go 25 minutes; he faded and essentially lost the fight as Johnson put a beating on him in the fifth. For the first two rounds he looked spectacular, though, and he has something there. Dodson is going to win a UFC title someday he just needs to address that one thing. And I think he gets the winner of this fight because it’d be a fresh matchup in a division running out of them as well as a good opening scrap on a PPV.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Eric Koch – Both just lost and will be on the undercard again, though. Would make for a good matchup as well.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. the loser of Rashad Evans vs. Little Nog – Matyushenko is the gatekeeper to the stars and the loser of that fight will be in a similar spot: not quite good enough to get into the elite but good enough to stay. Thiago Silva could make for a good matchup, suspension pending of course, and maybe a matchup with Brandon Vera could make sense too.