With UFC 140 in the books, and Jon Jones stopping Lyoto Machida to cap off one of the greatest years in MMA history, it’s time to look forward and play Joe Silva a bit and make fights for the five most intriguing fighters coming off UFC 140. As a reminder you can read our play by play coverage as well as Chris Roberts’ 10 thoughts on the event. We also had a brief 30 minutes of air time on Up Too Late, which you can listen to here.
Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson – Jones vs. Rashad is the fight that could take place as well depending on whether or not he gets hurt fighting Phil Davis. If Rashad hurts himself against Davis, you can imagine Hendo getting moved ahead as the next challenger to Jones’ title.
Brian Ebersole vs. BJ Penn – If BJ isn’t done and retired like he’s hinted at, and then walked back the week after, a step down in competition at welterweight would be worth it. Ebersole would be a great test for him and a winnable fight. Ebersole has three wins and needs a step up into the same territory Rory MacDonald is wading into. Ebersole isn’t ready for someone like Jon Fitch but is above guys like Rich Attonito or Jake Hecht. Penn would make a great fight; you could also throw in someone like Ricky Story or Charlie Brenneman as well.
Frank Mir vs. the winner of Daniel Cormier/Josh Barnett – Whoever wins the Strikeforce Grand Prix ought to be moved over immediately. The loser too, because the UFC could use some heavyweight talent right about now. It would be a great fight and with the UFC title picture occupied with Junior Dos Santos taking on the winner of Brock/Overeem. The big rumor right now is that Overeem will be out of UFC 141 and Mir would look to jump in as a last resort; nothing is known outside of rumor and innuendo, however. A fight against Cain Velasquez might make sense
Lyoto Machida vs. Rich Franklin – Franklin has been out for a while but warrants a tough matchup coming in. Franklin will be an interesting test for Machida and both need a win at this point. It would make for an excellent co-main or feature event fight and gives both guys stiff tests. Machida is going to need a streak of four to five wins this time to get another title shot against Jones and a guy like Franklin could be the start. The winner of Matyushenko/Alexander Gustaffson could also make sense in this spot as well as Machida represents a style clash that could be interesting. Don’t count out the loser of Phil Davis/Rashad as well. A third fight with Shogun is a long shot but could be in the picture as well.
Tito Ortiz vs. Brandon Vera – Tito is on his way out and has probably has one more fight left before retiring next year. You can’t give him anyone of note or on the periphery of the title picture; Lil Nog just finished wrecking him a short time after Rashad Evans did so as well. Vera isn’t as good a striker as either of them and doesn’t really seem to care about fighting the same way Tito does. If you’re looking for something that could serve as Tito’s retirement in the same way Chris Lytle got a flailing Dan Hardy. A third fight with Forrest Griffin, which is Tito’s wish, also makes sense in this spot.
Tags: Brandon Vera, Brian Ebersole, dan henderson, Frank Mir, jon jones, Lyoto Machida, Mixed Martial Arts, Rich Franklin, Tito Ortiz