With UFC on Fuel TV 3 ion the books, and my brief venture to Lincoln, NE, over, now we can break down the bets fights going forward for the five most intriguing winners and losers from the card. Having watched the card on DVR, able to fast forward through the commercials and such, it was a night of some spirited fights and a main event that genuinely shocked me.
Chang Jung Sung vs. Jose Aldo – Provided Aldo gets past Eric Koch, of course, but Sung deserves the next title shot. A genuine stunner of a victory to me, as I didn’t put much stock into his wins over Leonard Garcia and that flash KO of Mark Hominick, but he’s changed my mind. Sung looks like a genuine contender for Jose Aldo’s title right now. Poirier was a quality win and a title shot in a division as shallow as featherweight ought to be next for Sung.
Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis – A matchup we never saw in the WEC and one that would be a great final test for Pettis. He’s one fight away from a title shot and with the way the division is lining up he’ll be waiting for a long time to get another crack at it. Nate Diaz is also waiting, as well, thus Pettis needs to stay busy and keep winning. Cerrone is a top 10 lightweight and was on the cusp of a title shot himself. The winner of Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard would be another possibility for Cerrone, as both of those fighters are contenders as well.
Amir Sadollah vs. Stephen Thompson – The UFC doesn’t generally tend to matchup winners and losers, of course, but after losing to Matt Brown quite badly Sadollah would be a good test for “Wonderboy.” Sadollah has a similar style and is another type that is an early level gatekeeper. If Thompson can’t beat Sadollah or Matt Brown then he doesn’t deserve to be in the UFC, really. That’s where we are with Thompson at this point and Sadollah is about as good of an early level gatekeeper as it gets. If Dan Hardy beats Duane Ludwig you could see that matchup as well; Matt Riddle could also be a possibility.
Tom Lawlor vs. Yushin Okami – Another loser/winner matchup, I know, but Lawlor’s win gets him right back to where he was a short while ago: on the cusp of another top 10 opponent. Okami’s had a bit of a bad streak, getting tooled by Anderson Silva and then wrecked by Tim Boetsch after winning the first two rounds in Japan. Two guys with differing momentum can make for a fun matchup. I could see them putting in someone like Rousimar Palhares or the loser of Ed Herman/Jake Shields in this spot too.
Yves Jabouin vs. Michael MacDonald – MacDonald has a hand injury, of course, and most likely is out for the interim title fight against Urijah Faber. My guess is that Renan Barao gets announced as Faber’s next opponent on tonight’s “Ultimate Fighter.” Jabouin could be a title contender with a high level win and MacDonald is in the same spot; sometimes you have to beat a burgeoning guy to get that final seasoning. Mike Easton could step in as well, having originally been scheduled to face Jabouin before pulling out with an injury.
Jeremy Stephens vs. the loser of Clay Guida/Gray Maynard – Stephens is almost settling into the role of being a guy that’s really good but is in such a stacked division that cracking the Top 10 might never happen. Kind of like Pat Barry but smaller and not unconscious all the time, it seems. Stephens vs. Guida/Maynard would be a great style matchup and the loser of this particular fight is going to fall down the ladder in line for a title shot considerably. Stephens is a tough fight but winnable for both, obviously, and a win over either of Guida/Maynard gets Stephens right back where he was before the Cerrone fight. I could see a rematch of the Melvin Guillard fight, if Joe Silva wants to be a sadist.
Dustin Poirier vs. Miguel Torres – Poirier didn’t just lose; he got manhandled for a large portion of the fight. But he’s still a top fighter and will probably challenge for a title down the road. Torres makes sense; he’s got name value and that scalp on his resume still means something. Potentially the loser of the interim title fight could make their way opposite Poirier, as well.
Jason MacDonald vs. Rousimar Palhares – Both of these fighters needs a win right now. Palhares was just stopped by Alan Belcher a fight or two away from a title shot. MacDonald needs to win his next fight or else he’s probably off the UFC roster. Great fights usually happen when fighters get desperate, especially when you get guys who have great ground games. I wouldn’t be surprised if MacDonald called it a day and walked away from the sport, of course, but I think he has a couple of great fights left in him.
Jorge Lopez vs. DeMarques Johnson – Lopez has lost twice in the UFC, so my guess is that he won’t be around for a third fight, but he’s shown enough I think he warrants one. He has a great pedigree and the Sadollah fight was a split decision, so it’s not like he’s lost in dominating fashion twice. Johnson would be a nice matchup for both of them and potentially a fight where the loser is out of the UFC.
Jeff Curran vs. John Lineker – Curran wants to go to flyweight, and had been talking about doing so before Tuesday’s fight. If the UfC allows him to, and my guess is that they will considering the division is just beginning, then a fight with Lineker makes sense. Curran is a cagey veteran and Lineker had high expectations coming into the last UFC on Fox card. Lineker has been bandied about as a future champion but a bad loss to Louis Gaudinot has halted talks of that. He still has tons of ability, though, and a fight with Curran could bring it out.