The latest season of “The Ultimate Fighter” has wound its course as Mike Chiesa choked out Long Island product Al Iaquinta to become the winner of the 15th season of the show. And in doing so he also helped settle Shawn Smith and I’s personal rivalry through the show, which started with our mock draft (featured on The Ultimate Fighter website, even) and went through a number of “MMA 24/7″ episodes. Go Team Sawitz, that’s all I’ll say. You can read our coverage of the show itself as well; now it’s time to take a look at the five most intriguing winners and losers from the show and play matchmaker.
Martin Kampmann vs. Jonny Hendricks – I dealt with this in long form but since the presumption right now is that Carlos Condit is waiting until UFC 154 to take on GSP, Kampmann and Hendricks are stuck being #1 contenders behind a #1 contender. Line this up later in the year and you have a challenger for the GSP/Condit winner.
Charles Oliveira vs. Korean Zombie – Oliveira had an impressive win but still needs one more before you can really put him into the cage against Jose Aldo. Zombie is stuck waiting right now because Aldo has his dance card already lined up. With Hioki lined up against Ricardo Lamas later this month, and a presumed title shot in his picture if he wins, you can line this up early in the fall and you have a title contender ready for Aldo if he retains at UFC 149.
Justin Lawrence vs. the winner of Spencer Fisher/Sam Stout – Lawrence impressed with his head kick KO of John Cofer on the main card of “The Ultimate Fighter” Finale card but let’s face it: Cofer is a nice fighter but he’ll be looking to head back to the regional circuit sometime next week. TUF losers in their first official fight don’t get a lot of leeway. Lawrence is really talented and I imagine they’ll put him in against another striker for his debut fight. Fisher/Stout would be a good early test.
Michael Chiesa vs. Yves Edwards – Chiesa is this year’s TUF winner and it seems that Edwards is a guy to take on guys who’ve been on the show. It presents an intriguing style matchup as well, of course, but the question is how deep in the waters is the UFC going to drop their latest TUF winner into for his first fight?
Myles Fury vs. Marcus LeVesseur – Fury has been a part of two TUF casts, one briefly because of injury, and is still a rough prospect at this point. So is LeVesseur, who is really talented but somehow lost to Cody McKenzie’s guillotine. I can see them putting them against one another in a prospect matchup.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Josh Koscheck – Ellenberger thought he should’ve been given some more time to continue. Koscheck thought he beat Hendricks on the last UFC on Fox card. Both are top contenders but some ways away from getting back into the title picture. At this point Koscheck is into interesting matchups and Ellenberger would be a really interesting one for him. If he can’t beat Ellenberger then he’s probably never going to challenge for a title again; if Ellenberger loses to Koscheck then he’s way down the totem pole in his career.
Jonathan Brookins vs. the loser of Cub Swanson/Ross Pearson – Brookins can still be a guy who has a fringe shot at getting a title shot in the future but will be on the roster for quite some time. He does just enough good things to keep a roster spot and win fights but he doesn’t have those elite “it” factor types that scream he’ll be in the championship picture at some point in his career. But he’s a likeable fighter that also won TUF, as well, so he has some talent and might evolve into a middle of the road gatekeeper type. I can see him taking on the loser of Swanson/Pearson as a type of fight to get some traction in the division after a loss.
Al Iaquinta vs. John Cholish – Iaquinta may have lost in the finale but the one thing the UFC likes to do is keep finalists around. Making it to the final of the show is really tough, especially in this new format, and Iaquinta has probably earned another shot in the Octagon. He comes from a great camp as well; I could see them throwing him up against someone like Cholish to see if he can hang with anyone in the division.
John Albert vs. Erik Perez – It was a bad stoppage to a good fight in the making; I say do it again. It probably won’t happen but there is precedent (Matt Wiman vs. Mac Danzig).
Cristiano Marcello vs. Tony Ferguson – Marcello has enough of a pedigree I think he stays around for another bout in the UFC, despite the loss. With the amount of masters they’re serving as well they need talent and I think he hangs around for another fight. If anything it’ll be a nice setup for someone who needs a win; Ferguson likes to headhunt and Marcello has this bad tendency of keeping his chin up when people throw big punches at him.
Tags: Five for Fighting, Mixed Martial Arts