MMA Humpday

After each major fight card it’s appropriate to take a look at the current MMA landscape and evaluate where the major winners and losers fit into that landscape. It’s not an exact science but it does help to create a sense of order.

Let’s take a look at the UFC 93 participants.

UFC 93 Fallout: winners and losers

Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle: Marcus won an entertaining fight but a split decision over a gatekeeper won’t impress anyone in the Top 10 of the welterweight division. Lytle was beaten much more decisively by Top 5 fighters Josh Koscheck and Thiago Alves so how good is Davis?

Putting the split decision aside, Davis showed he is one of the more complete strikers in MMA. He also has underrated submission skills. Marcus is ready for a fight with someone in the current Top 10 so the UFC can go in one of two directions with him.

First, a rematch with Mike Swick. Davis and Swick fought at UFC 85 with Swick getting the convincing decision win. But Marcus wasn’t 100% in that fight and a rematch might be in order. Davis has said he would like that fight but for Swick it might feel like a step backward. Unless he wants to fight one of his teammates though, Koscheck or Fitch, he may not have another option.

Another viable option for Davis could be one of the UFC 94 welterweight winners. John Fitch and Karo Parisian are looking to get back on track against opponents they are supposed to beat at UFC 94.  After that, a Davis vs. Fitch of Davis vs. Parisian fight would be a great fit on the UFC 99 fight card set to take place in Germany. If Davis fights Swick, UFC 97 in Montreal, Canada has a nice ring to it.

For Lytle, he has gone 4-4 in the octagon since his loss to Matt Serra on the finale of TUF 4. Lytle is a gatekeeper in every sense of the word and will be used as such. Looking at the current welterweight landscape,  a few names jump out for a next fight.

Martin Kampmann recorded an impressive win at UFC 93 and the timing would be right for a Lytle vs. Kampmann fight. The welterweight division is Martin’s new home, since dropping down from middleweight, so maybe he needs to be tested by a divisional gatekeeper. The UFC might also want to use Kampmann, a Dutchman, for their next European card at UFC 99. Lytle would be a solid opponent, one he could beat.

Perhaps a more appropriate fight for Lytle might be against a fighter like Brad Blackburn or Chris Wilson. Blackburn has won both of  his  two fights inside the octagon and is looking for a step up in competition. Wilson lost to t Jon Fitch in his first UFC fight but took the former No. 1 contender to a decision. He went on to beat Steve Bruno at UFC 87 and needs a fight if the UFC plans to retain him.

Rousimar Palhares vs. Jeremy Horn: Palhares was supposed to dispatch of Horn with a slick submission in the first or second round. Reports are Rousimar broke his hand so we will give him the benefit of the doubt for not being able to finish of the cagey veteran.

Despite that, Palhares seems to be a one dimensional BJJ fighter. He will need to continue to develop the rest of his game if he ever wants to entertain the idea of fighting for a title one day. Since he could be out for some time it’s hard to say who Palhares will fight next. My hope would be to see him against a striker with decent takedown defense, someone who could test the BJJ phenom.

As for Horn, his days inside the octagon are numbered. He has lost his last three fights and his job as gatekeeper may soon disappear. Jeremy does have name recognition so if the Joe Silva needs him to step in to fight you can be sure the man with over 100 MMA fights will be there.

Alan Belcher vs. Denis Kang: The result of this fight still leaves me in a bit of shock. Kang was dominating the fight until he fell into a perfectly placed guillotine. Kang is a MMA veteran with over 40 MMA fights. His offensive skill set is excellent but he defense is questionable is prone to careless  mistakes.

Kang could be punished by being put on the under card of an event. It will give him the chance to prove himself while getting back on track. A fight with gatekeeper Alessio Sakara, who is a one dimensional striker, might be the perfect opponent for Kang. If the UFC wants to keep Denis on a main card they could put him up against someone like Nate Quarry who still holds name value.

It will be interesting to see who they put Belcher up against next. This win keeps him steers him clear of mediocre status and puts him in the Top 15 of the middleweight division. But Belcher still has  alot to prove  since he was clearly outclassed by Kang before finding that guillotine.

A fight with the loser of Nate MarquardtWilson Gouveia or Demian MaiaChael Sonnen might make sense. Or the Joe Silva could go in a different direction and make Belcher fight someone ranked below him. A fight with C.B. Dollaway or Tim Credeur could make for an interesting fight.

On a side note, is it just me or does Belcher look like fellow Muay Thai fighter, Kit Kope?

Shogun Rua vs. Mark Coleman: Shogun’s fate has been determined as he will fight Chuck Liddell at UFC 97. The UFC wanted this fight to happen at UFC 85 but Rua was sidelined by injuries. Shogun will need to work on his cardio and striking if he wants to survive this fight.

As for Coleman, I can’t see him fighting another important fight in the octagon again. He is a UFC hall-of-famer so Dana may grant him another fight or he may want him to preserve his legacy and retire. Whatever happens, let’s hope that Coleman doesn’t go the route of Shamrock.

Dan Henderson vs. Rich Franklin: Hendo’s fate has also been determined as he will coach opposite Michael Bisping on The Ultimate Fighter 9. The two coaches will fight each other after the show and the winner of that fight will most likely get a title shot against Anderson Silva, or the man who can knock off Anderson Silva. Being a betting man I will predict: Henderson vs. Silva 2.

Franklin won’t take a hit for his gritty loss to Dan Henderson and will remain in the light heavyweight mix. Luis Cane needs an opponent since he was originally scheduled to fight Keith Jardine at UFC 97.  Jardine is now fighting Rampage Jackson at UFC. 96.

Another fight which might make sense is with the loser of Lyoto Machida-Thiago Silva, who  fight at UFC 94. Franklin and Machida fought each other in their pre-UFC days and a rematch would be compelling while Franklin vs Thiago Silva fight would also be a fight worth watching. And then there is a fight with the other Silva,  Wanderlei, which could be put together.

Of course all of this depends on how fast Rich Franklin can recover from that nasty eye poke he received in his UFC 93 fight.

…In other News

I will be doing a live Blog for Affliction: Day of Reckoning so if you don’t plan on buying the fight card, make sure to be on Inside Fights this Saturday night and refresh your page every five to ten minutes.

February will be a great month for MMA fans. After running a gauntlet of five PPV cards (UFC 92 –UFC 94) fans will be rewarded with two free fight cards. While UFN 17 and UFC 95 don’t have the caliber of fights that a big fight card has, it will have plenty of intriguing fights that we will talk about in upcoming Humpday articles.

UFC 96 looks to be unofficially complete. The UFC finally found a main card when they put together a fight between Rampage Jackson vs. Keith Jardine. On the surface the fight seemed like an odd fight. Jackson looked like a lock for a title fight against Rashad Evans but the UFC couldn’t that fight together. They desperately needed a main event for UFC 96 so enter Jardine.

This set up an inevitable debate. If Rampage Jackson gets by Jardine will he fight Rashad Evans at UFC 100 or will Lyoto Machida get his turn if he gets by Thiago Silva at UFC 94. Let the debate begin. My prediction: Rampage gets the nod and Machida will have to get one more win; perhaps against the winner of Shogun-Liddell.

UFC 96 has some compelling fights. A heavyweight showdown between Gabriel Gonzaga and Shane Carwin should produce fireworks. Don’t bet on this fight going to a decision. The winner of this fight could be a No. 1 contender and face the winner of Brock LesnarFrank Mir. It will also be good to see Dustin Hazelett back in action, this time agaisnt Ben Saunders and a Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller fight should also be a good one.

UFC 99: rumors & conjecture

According to Sherdog, there is some interesting chatter in regard to UFC 99 which will go down in Cologne, Germany. The frontrunner for the main event was thought to be Randy Couture vs. Antonio Noguiera. Both were losers in the heavyweight tournament which have Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir moving on to meet in a finale, rumored to be take place at UFC 98 or UFC 100.

But Randy Couture elected to have surgery on his busted elbow and likely wont be ready for a June fight. Antonio Nogueira vs. Cheick Kongo, a bout that was previously negotiated a little more than a year ago, may now become the co-headliner.

While the UFC favored Couture for his tie-ins to Germany, Cheick Kongo should fill in nicely as a native born Frenchman and surging heavyweight contender. The winner of this fight, along with the Gabriel Gonzaga-Shane Carwin winner, would both be in line for a title shot. Kongo has looked impressive in his last few fights and his striking looks fierce. Nog better be back to his old form or what Mir did to him might look tame by comparison.

The UFC is also floating the idea of putting Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, who is possibly returning, into the main event against either Tito Ortiz or Lyoto Machida. The problem, sources say, is that Ortiz does not want to move up to heavyweight, while Cro Cop does not want to go down to 205 pounds. It is ironic that Tito doesn’t want to fight at heavyweight since he recently speculated about fighting Fedor at Heavyweight.

Also rumored to be on the UFC 99 card is a lightweight title fight between B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian. Florian has been on the sidelines and waiting for his second title shot since beating Joe Stevenson at UFC 91.

A title defense by B.J. Penn depends on the outcome of his Jan. 31 superfight against Georges St. Pierre. If Penn is unable to go, due to any medical suspension, Florian may be held off from his second title shot and could be pitted against Diego Sanchez (according to Sherdog) should he defeat Joe Stevenson at UFC 95?

It may seem obvious to make a put together a fight between Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk (a rematch of their UFC 64 title fight).  Sherk had rumored to be taking on Roger Huerta at UFC 97  but it now looks like he will be fighting Frankie Edgar at UFC 98 instead, this according to MMA Mania. As always, injuries and who actually ends up fighting who, well ultimately determine the outcome.

I have gone well over my 1,500 word limit. Be sure to check in with our Live Blog for Affliction this Saturday night, make sure to watch part two of UFC: Primetime tonight, and we’ll meet back here next Wednesday for all your MMA news.