You miss this weekend’s Fuel card? You can catch up by reading our PBP right here and here. For now it’s time to figure where the UFC goes next with the more intriguing winners and losers from this weekend’s fight card.
Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland – The one downside to Urijah Faber beating Ivan Menjivar next weekend is that he’s already had his shot at Barao (and his title). If Ivan Menjivar can pull off a win over Faber, especially a finish, he could be in the picture but right now the guy with the best bonafides to get Barao next is Wineland. The key is Dominick Cruz’s health; if he can be back this summer then Cruz is the next candidate to unify the title.
Cub Swanson vs. Chan Sung Jung – Set it for this summer, maybe on the undercard of Pettis/Aldo, and you’ve got a potential #1 contender fight. Jose Aldo’s dance card is full if you look at it. Ricardo Lamas doesn’t have a fight yet but he’s slotted for May, apparently, and Guida vs. Mendes is on a Fox card.
Tom Watson vs. the loser of Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher – We learned from this weekend that Watson may not be an A-level fighter but he has an A-level heart. He showed against Nedkov, who’s fought a better level of guy, a couple things. The biggest is that he’ll probably never be an elite caliber fighter but he could make a run to the fringes of the Top 10 on guts alone. And the loser of Bisping vs. Belcher is going to be someone who’ll need to start somewhere to get back to where they once were. CB Dollaway could be another choice and Ed Herman could be in this spot as well; Watson has a lot of options.
Andy Ogle vs. the winner of Marcus Brimage vs. Conor McGregor – Ogle’s a good, tough prospect who could be to the lighter weights what Bisping was to middleweight. He just needs time to develop and despite a big time win over Josh Grispi needs more seasoning. Brimage would be the pick but he’s facing the Cage Rage champion McGregor in his UFC debut. The winner of that would be a good, tough matchup for Ogle.
Matthew Riddle vs. the winner of Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker – Riddle didn’t look very good but he notched the win. His ability to pull off a beautiful single was something but Mills didn’t look as game as you’d think he’d be in that scenario. Riddle won’t get anyone of note despite a four fight win streak as he leaves England. Dan Hardy doesn’t want Riddle, either, or else that fight would’ve been made for this card. Expect Riddle to get the winner of Cote/Voelker, who’ll be in about the same spot rankings wise as Riddle.
Michael McDonald vs. the loser of Menjivar/Faber – McDonald fought as close as you could get with the best bantamweight in the world for three rounds before getting caught. He’s lost nothing after that fight as he fought Barao as close as you could get. If they were prospects fighting three rounds for a title shot you could argue that McDonald won that fight. This is the first of probably three or four epic fights between the two and McDonald will bide his time for another shot at the top. He belongs in the elite of the division, we can see that now, and the loser of Menjivar/Faber is an excellent rebound fight. Brad Pickett or Brian Bowles could be another excellent matchup for him.
Ryan Jimmo vs. Wagner Prado – Jimmo had his chance at finishing that fight in the first but James Te-Huna is an exceptionally tough human being. Prado lost but probably earned himself a third shot in the cage. My guess is that he draws Jimmo to clear some space in the division. Brandon Vera could be another person to slot in here as well.
Ulysses Gomez vs. Ian McCall – Flyweight is so thin right now that you basically have to find a fresh matchup and take it. McCall is it.
Jorge Santiago vs. Chris Clements – Santiago looks like an elite fighter everywhere but the UFC. He looked like a killer outside the organization and in training apparently looks like the second coming. He just can’t pull that trigger in the UFC. In his defense he’s been given a lot of tough matchups coming in and I think he needs to take a massive step back. Clements is a borderline UFC caliber fighter, perhaps, despite being one of the best interviews out there that we’ve had on “MMA 24.7″ in the show’s history. I think Santiago needs a winnable but tough fight against someone on the fringes, which is what he looks like. The loser of Cote/Voelker could be here too.
Terry Etim vs. the loser of Colin Fletcher vs. Mike Ricci – Terry Etim looked like an up and coming prospect at one point. He was fighting Edson Barboza evenly, too, until Barboza put him in the UFC’s “Baba O’Riley” video. Now he’s got a two fight losing streak and maybe that kick just took something out of him that he can’t get back. It’s hard to say, especially for such a talented fighter, but he needs to take a deep step back. The loser of Fletcher/Ricci will be fighting for their career and so will he.