The UFC’s first fight card in Germany is in the books and while it was not a spectacular card, it satisfied. In the main event, Rich Franklin was able to navigate his way toward a decision win.
Franklin’s world will now revolve around making a run at the 205 pound title. While Franklin is a legitimate Top 10 light heavyweight some may be hard pressed to believe he can win over the Rampage Jackson’s and Rashad Evan’s of the division.
And it seems preposterous at this point to think that Franklin could last long against current kingpin Lyoto Machida. Despite that, Franklin can add spice to the division and finish out his career in hall-of-fame fashion.
One opponent for Rick Franklin that would raise everyone’s eyebrows would be the much maligned Chuck Liddell. Dana White has remained adamant about Liddell retiring but this fight would be very marketable; one the fans would certainly love to see. If Liddell is not an option, Franklin could face off against dangerous Brazilian striker Luis Cane, a fighter who has worked his way into the top ten of the light heavyweight division.
For Wanderlei Silva, a win over Franklin would have bolstered the chances of a fight with an unbeatable champion in Anderson Silva. But there is no reason to axe Silva’s head off over the loss. The fight felt reminiscent of his battle with Chuck Liddell and will be one that fans remember for awhile.
Silva will likely secure a fight at Middleweight with a top 10 opponent where we can expect Silva enjoy a considerable power and size advantage in the lighter weight class. As far as an opponent, a great choice would be hard hitter Patrick Cote.
Cote has been sidelined with the knee injury he sustained in his title fight against Anderson Silva but Cote looks to make his return to the octagon later this year. A fight between Silva and Cote would be a guaranteed stand up war and betting on someone to get knocked out would be a wise investment. If not Cote, then another marque matchup could involve Silva fighting the loser of Henderson vs. Bisping or Nate Marquardt if he loses to Demian Maia. Maia is not an option as he and Silva train together.
In the co-main event Cain Velasquez proved he has a resilient chin and phenomenal wrestling. Kongo could not knock Velasquez out and from there it was a takedown clinic as Kongo spent most of his time on his back. Velazquez, who improves to 6-0 with the win, said after the fight “It wasn’t good enough for me, and it wasn’t good enough for my coaches.”
Velasquez’s journey upward does not get any easier and it will be intriguing to see who the UFC settles on to face the winner of Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir who will fight to unify the title in a month at UFC 100. Velasquez himself has said he does not believe he will get the nod yet.
The organization will have a couple of moving parts to work with as they have an undefeated Shane Carwin waiting in the wings. Carwin is coming off his impressive T(KO) win over Gabriel Gonzaga back in April at UFC 96. Also in contention for the number one contender spot will be the winner of Randy Couture and Antonio Nogueira who will finally fight at UFC 102.
If Velazquez does not get the title shot he could have a few options. First, if the UFC decides to match the Couture-Nogueira winner against the Lesnar-Mir winner, they could put on a very legitimate number one contender match by pitting Velasquez against Shane Carwin. Both men are undefeated and whoever emerged would without question be secured a title fight.
If the UFC really wanted to make things interesting they could’ve put a fight together between the two UFC winners in Velasquez and Cro Cop. Unfortunately, Cro Cop has already left the UFC, giving notice to Dana White after his fight that he’d signed a three-fight deal with DREAM.
As for Cheick Kongo he will need to take a hard look at his future in mixed martial arts. While Kongo can easily out strike anyone in MMA, his ability to avoid takedowns is his Achilles heal. Perhaps Kongo would be better served to transition his career over to kickboxing where he’d avoid the ground game.
In what started slow but ended quick, Mike Swick was able to rock the less experienced Ben Saunders and secure a T(KO) win in the second round. What’s next for Swick appears to be a title fight with the George St. Pierre-Thiago Avles winner. Those two fight in the co-main event at UFC 100.
The biggest obstacle in Swicks’s way is Jon Fitch who will be fighting on that UFC 100 card. The UFC may opt to give Fitch a rematch against the winner, as Fitch has fought both St. Pierre and Alves in his career. It seems that Swick has earned his chance though, given that Fitch already got one crack at the belt and lost handily at the hands of St. Pierre.
If the UFC does snub Swick then he will forced to win against someone like Matt Hughes or Martin Kampmann in what would be a number one contender’s match. Both Kampmann and Hughes are coming off wins and could both make their case.
Hughes pulled out a win over Matt Serra at UFC 98 while Kampmann out pointed Carlos Condit in a thrilling fight back at UFN 18 back in April. While Kampmann would be more deserving, Hughes may get the nod based on his popularity off the fact that his career is winding down and the UFC may feel obliged to give the future hall-of-famer one last run.
Mirko Cro Cop was triumphant in his first fight back in the octagon. He got the T(KO) over Al-Turk in the second round, although his final assault was facilitated by an accidental eye poke. While that may blur the victory on some people’s retina, it appeared a T(KO) was all but assured at some point in time.
For Cro Cop, he will have to sit down with Dana White to negotiate a fight contract as this fight was negotiated over the phone. If the UFC is smart, and they are, they will save Cro Cop for their next Euro card and use his status to continue and build European interest in the sport.
A smart opponent to match Cro Cop against could be veteran fighter Heath Herring or someone like Atoni Hardonk, a dangerous kick boxer from the Netherlands. Both opponents are available as Hardock is coming off a T(KO) loss to Cheick Kongo back at UFC 97 while Heath Herring was supposed to be in against Cain Velasquez before pulling out of the fight due to sickness.
For Marcus Davis this loss stings badly. The bad blood between the two had Davis wanting this win more then any other in his MMA career. The fight was closely contested so the loss won’t hurt Davis too much but will have him dropping out of everyone’s top ten welterweight lists.
As for Hardy, the win wasn’t impressive enough to crown him the next big thing, but it will have people taking him seriously and could be enough to garner a fight with a top ten foe. With the UFC’s welterweight division having so many moving parts predicting future opponents for either fighter is far from an exact science.
Tags: Cain Velasquez, Cheick Kongo, dan hardy, Marcus Davis, Mike Swick, Mirko Cro Cop, Mixed Martial Arts, Rich Franklin, ufc 99, ufc results, Wanderlei Silva