Five For Fighting – Matchups To Make After UFC on FX 3 (McCall vs. Johnson)

UFC on FX 3 is in the books; we have a flyweight tournament with two finalists at last as well as some great fights on the main card bookended by a fairly lackluster undercard. You can read Shawn Smith’s live play by play by clicking here. As always now it’s time to find the five most intriguing winners, and losers, from Friday night’s card and figure out who’s next for each of them.

Winners

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez – The no-brainer of the bunch and will be done this fall. Interesting to note that two guys who gave Dominick Cruz fits and nearly took his title, including one who gave him his toughest fight to date, are now going to be competing for the flyweight title. It’s almost an endorsement of Cruz in an odd way; both guys brought in to the organization with significant pedigree in the division (McCall, Yasuhiro Urushitani) lost to two of the best bantamweights in the world.

Erick Silva vs. Dan Hardy – Prospects in the welterweight division need to be seasoned carefully. Silva just wrecked Brenneman, who’s no easy out, and isn’t quite ready to be thrown to the wolves of the top of the division just yet. But he’s too good to face another prospect or someone like Matthew Riddle, who’d be my default pick. Hardy is a big name and a tough out. He’ll also provide a fun standing scrap with Silva, as well. The key with Silva now is to let him ride a number of wins on his way up; he’s 2-1 technically, though he should be on a 3-0 streak at this juncture, and someone with a name but not quite top 15-20 would be in order.

This would normally be for someone like Matt Brown but he’s tied up with Luis Ramos in two weeks. I could see the winner of that fight being pushed against Silva as well. Matthew Riddle, depending on his health, could be another matchup option as well. Silva is going to get guys along the Brenneman level, still, at this point as he starts collecting some scalps of note. He’s not quite ready to be fed to the wrestling heavy upper tier but too good for another prospect, either, and as such a big step up is warranted.

Eddie Wineland vs. Michael MacDonald – MacDonald is collecting scalps en route to a title shot in the near future and Wineland would be an impressive one to have on his mantle. MacDonald is on the cusp of a title shot, maybe one or two fights, and a victory over a guy with a reputation like Wineland gets him potentially the winner of Barao/Faber. Mike Thomas Brown could be on the horizon as well, another WEC matchup.

Mike Pyle vs. Seth Baczynski – Pyle has faced tons of guys in the UFC and been fairly successful. Baczynski seems to have found his place in the UFC at welterweight after being a small middleweight; this would be a decent matchup for both. Pyle’s a long time veteran and Baczynski has looked very impressive in his post-TUF stint.

Mike Pierce vs. the winner of Siyar Bahadurzada/Chris Clements – It’s really tough to look good against Pierce, it seems, and Pierce has lost each time he’s stepped into elite competition. Rocha was a good test that Pierce passed and now it’s time to take a slight step up; once you’ve lost to Jon Fitch, Hendricks and Koscheck after wins my guess is the UFC isn’t going to jump back up to that level again. My guess at this point is they put him with a similar fighter to Rochca and both of these guys fit the mix.

Losers

Ian McCall vs. John Lineker – McCall lost a tough fight to Johnson; it’s hard to think of him as the #1 flyweight in the world after this. But he has tons of value and I still think he’ll hold the UFC Flyweight title at some point in his Zuffa experience. Lineker didn’t show as much as we’d hoped against Louis Gaudinot; at this point I don’t think they’ll put McCall against Gaudinot or Dodson. Lineker is coming off a loss and needs to show something. McCall was the favorite to win and just lost to Johnson in what many people consider the second time.

Charlie Brenneman vs. Thiago Alves – It all depends on Alves’s injury situation, of course, but Brenneman and Alves are in a weird career parallel right now. Both have had moments where they rose to high places and then just didn’t have that final trigger pull to the top. Alves lost to GSP and then Fitch, with weight cutting problems as well, and seems to have righted the ship but has swapped wins and losses as of late. Brenneman beat Rick Story in dominant fashion and looked to be on the way up … and then has been trading wins and losses. It’s also striker vs. grappler, which the UFC really likes to do for the excitement potential.

Scott Jorgensen vs. Miguel Torres – This fight never occurred in the WEC despite both men having been there for some time. Both are coming off losses in the division and need a win to get back on track if that’s possible. Brian Bowles would be another interesting matchup for Jorgensen as well; right now we need to know whether or not Jorgensen has it in him for another run at a title shot or if he’s entering the “interesting matchup” phase in his career. He and Torres would make for an interesting fight as well; both could use someone who isn’t on the way up with a rocket attached to them, I think.

Josh Neer vs. Rich Attonito – Neer is a nice fighter and talented but it’s looking more and more like he’s never going to make that jump to the elite of the division. Not a bad thing as you can make a good living in the UFC by being a good and exciting fighter, which is what Neer is at this point. He’s never dull in the cage. Attonito is a prospect who we don’t know the upside yet. My guess is that he might not be a UFC caliber fighter BUT we just don’t know officially. Neer would be a nice test of that.

Carlos Eduardo Rocha vs. Duane Ludwig – Ludwig is kind of the tonic for what ails you as a fighter, it seems, and he’s a good measure it you’re a UFC caliber fighter. Rocha/Ludwig would be a good matchup; Rocha has had a lot of injury issues in his brief UFC career and Ludwig is usually the sort of test a guy like Rocha would need.

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