This was a HUGE weekend for fighting as UFC on FX 2 was terrific on Friday night and then we had Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Tate on Saturday night. I covered both; you can view my play by play of either event by clicking here or here. And as such I’ve opted to combine my usual “Five for Fighting” column of both events into one, mainly because there weren’t enough fighters on both cards to make it five on either side.
Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Ellenberger – Ellenberger needs to stay busy as a title shot at either the current or interim champion isn’t happening anytime soon. Kampmann just beat another top contender and is making his way back into title contention. The fight makes on that level and gives the winner more credibility towards the next title fight after GSP/Condit if that fight happens this fall.
Ian McCall vs. Demetrious Johnson – Not really a win, or a loss, for either man as it was announced a win for Johnson but revealed to actually be a draw. It’s also one that’s already been announced as rescheduled as well, my thoughts on its eventual card placement here. It makes sense too, especially considering the shenanigans involving the result (and the fourth round we got screwed out of).
James Te Huna vs. Ryan Jimmo – As it stands right now Te Huna and Jimmo are up and coming prospects and need to be brought along slowly. Jimmo has yet to make his debut and Te Huna has been sporadic so far in his career. And as always young prospects fighting each other early is a UFC staple and Jimmo comes with a substantial pedigree from MFC. The winner of this fight could be a fight or two away from being ready to take a step up to the outer fringes of the Top of the division. Stephan Bonnar is another option depending on whether or not Zuffa wants to jump start Te Huna’s potential ascent up the light heavyweight chain and into a contender fight. If you can’t beat Bonnar you’ll never be a top tier guy and his power makes for a great matchup with the “Ultimate Fighter” runner up. Vladimir Matyushenko might in this spot, too, depending on a number of circumstances.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman – Kaufman had a noticeable case for being hosed over for getting the title shot against Miesha Tate and with a win on the undercard ought to be next in line for new champion Rousey. There’s really no one else in the division ready for a title shot right now, either, but this also sets up a great style matchup. Kaufman showed some nasty standup over Alexis Davis and Rousey showed poor striking defense against Miesha Tate. I think Rousey will ragdoll her fairly easily but it’s such a glaring weakness that it could potentially be exploited.
Pat Healy vs. Gil Melendez – I made a better argument here but Josh Thomson doesn’t deserve the next title shot. Healy won in impressive fashion and Josh Thomson essentially laid and prayed his way to victory.
Thiago Alves vs. Yoshiro Akiyama – Alves is too good to fight a prospect. Akiyama makes too much money as well for the same task. Hate to think of Akiyama getting thrown to the wolves again but both could warrant an interesting striker vs. grappler matchup. Akiyama looked stellar against Jake Shields in defeat, looking like a top flight welterweight in the process, and Alves could be a great test for Sexyama. Alves also has traditionally struggled against grappling centric fighter and Akiyama has just enough grappling to make it a fun fight.
Aaron Rosa vs. Krzysztof Soszynski –Soszynski is coming off a bad streak and Rosa looks like he’s not long for the UFC. Soszynski is in that moment where it’s easy to doubt whether or not he is good enough to be on the UFC roster than he should be able to mop the floor with a fighter like Rosa. Kyle Kingsbury makes sense in this spot, as well, as he’s in that same kind of spot that Soszynski is. The wild card in all of this could be Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The concept is kind of laughable but on the oft-chance that it is even considered the following criteria will be in play: Rampage wants a tune up fight and is ready to take a step back from top level competition after the Bader loss. If he wants a can to crush … well … Rosa will get crushed fairly easy from Jackson.
Paul Daley vs. Evangelista Santos – What a decline for Paul Daley the past two years have been, huh? At one point he was arguably the best welterweight not in the UFC that wasn’t named Nick Diaz or Ben Askren. Now he’s losing to a slowly declining level of talent. “Cyborg” Santos would be an interesting fight, for lack of a better word, and keeps him busy. Daley still might have the potential to be a Top 10 fighter again; he has that absolutely deadly left hook that’s a one-shot game-changer.
Scott Smith vs. Keith Jardine – Jardine is done as a relevant fighter, it seems. Smith just hit that point last night. If you’re going to keep Smith around for a potential fifth loss in a row because he’s exciting, more or less the “Dan Hardy Exception” for exciting but unsuccessful fighters, a fight with Jardine at middleweight could be an option for Smith. A catchweight at 195 might make more sense for Jardine but it keeps both busy. My guess is that Smith is released and sent back to the regional circuit to trade off his name for a while but if he’s kept around
KJ Noons vs. Lyle Beerbohm – Noons would be an ideal matchup for Jorge Masvidal but Masvidal took him behind the woodshed once already and we don’t need to see that again. Both guys have their back against the wall with recent fights and let’s face it; it would be an interesting matchup to see if either still has something left.