Five For Fighting – Fights To Make After UFC On Fox 4 (Shogun Rua vs. Brandon Vera)

After a crappy UFC 149 event, UFC on Fox 4 delivered in every way possible. With a number of great fights and finishes, the stench from UFC 149 has been lifted. The UFC did good last night. Now it’s time to figure where they go with the winners and losers from last night. Here’s our play by play of the event, so click here.

Winners

Lyoto Machida vs. the winner of Dan Henderson/Jon Jones – Dana White made this fight official during the broadcast and it makes the most sense, too. He looked better than Rua and looks like he’s found that next level of fire. Machida looked like a man on a mission; the winner of Jones/Henderson is in for a war. I’d have loved to seen him drop down to middleweight, as well, as there are any number of great matchups down there for him as well. One imagines at 185 that Chael Sonnen would be a good matchup, Tim Boetsch another and even Chris Weidman.

Shogun Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson – Rua needs a win for a title shot, it seems. Gustafsson needs a signature win to justify one as well. This is a matchup you could make before the end of the year and get the next title challenger set up after Machida. I wasn’t super impressed with Rua, despite the win, and if he fought Jones like that he’d get chewed up and spit out again. Ryan Jimmo would be a good style matchup but one imagines that if Rua didn’t take Glover Teixeira because of name recognition he won’t take Jimmo either. Rua’s at the point in his career where he’s still a clear top fighter in the division but won’t hold the title again unless something miraculous happens. He’s in that clear territory that follows the steep drop off after Rashad Evans in the light heavyweight division. But a win over Gustafsson, who has looked like an absolute killer, gets him in the conversation again. Depending on his health he could get the winner of Phil Davis/Wagner Prado as well.

Joe Lauzon vs. Gray Maynard – Lauzon finally put together a complete fight with a spectacular fight of the year candidate against Varner. What an amazing win and I think he gets Maynard next. Maynard wants another title shot and won’t get one for a while, especially if Frankie Edgar regains the title. A win over Lauzon and a successful defense from Ben Henderson and he could be fighting for a title sooner than later. If Donald Cerrone defeats Melvin Guillard a matchup against Lauzon is something I could see as well. The problem is that Lauzon has been around for some time and as such he’s fought nearly everyone in the division it seems; fresh matchups aren’t as easy to find as they are for other fighters.

Mike Swick vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama – Swick is still a name and Akiyama will get high profile fights based on who he is. Depending on Swick’s health after the fight, as well as Akiyama’s recovery time, this makes for a matchup of two guys needing a win to get back into the thick of things. Matt Brown is a potential matchup that could be interesting. With Swick back in the mix, and looking pretty good in the process, there are so many matchups you can make for the guy and it’s all fresh because of the division’s turnover. Matthew Riddle could be one, as well. One that would be out of left field would be against B.J Penn at UFC 152 with Rory MacDonald out due to a massive cut. Penn and MacDonald look to want to wait until November in Montreal on the GSP/Condit card, most likely, but if BJ really wants to fight Swick’s not a bad replacement.

Nam Phan vs. Manny Gamburyan – An easy fight to make considering both guys won on this card but it also would be a fun style matchup as well. The winner of Dennis Bermudez vs. Tommy Hayden would be a good style fight as well. Phan has to be considered a prospect still, at this point, as his ceiling looks to be known but isn’t 100% yet. At this point someone with a bigger name and talent level is going to be who Phan gets next; he has great power and tons of ability but he has lopsided losses to Mike Brown and Jimy Hettes in recent vintage as well.

Losers

Brandon Vera vs. Vladimir Matyushenko – I’ll give Vera credit for many things in that fight; he looked like potentially he could be considered an elite level light heavyweight against Rua in defeat. This could be a sign he’s finally put it all together for the first time in a long time. I don’t see the UFC giving him someone else elite again, as well, until he’s earned a win over two. “The Janitor” would make for an interesting matchup and is a winnable fight for Vera. At this point the key to finding out if Vera has made that leap is to get him against solid competition an elite fighter should run through; Matyushenko may be a step back in competition technically but he’s still a name and a win over him will mean something. Matyushenko is a fringe top 10 guy, much like how you have to view Vera now (who elevated himself to that against Shogun) and a win gets him into Top 10 discussion.

Ryan Bader vs. Anthony Perosh – Bader took two steps forward and now a step back with a bad knockout loss to Lyoto Machida. Machida looked out of his league and Bader had nothing he couldn’t handle. Perosh had a stunning loss to Ryan Jimmo that would make for a good rebound by Bader. Don’t be shocked if Brandon Vera is in this slot; Bader will be licking his chops by seeing Vera get easily taken down by Rua. My guess is that Bader takes a step back, much like he did after losing to Tito.

Jamie Varner vs. Clay Guida – Varner looked amazing against Lauzon and gave him a war he will remember for a long, long time. Guida would make for an interesting matchup and both fighters need a win to get back into the mix. Guida has a number of losses to high profile guys as well and a fight with Varner could be interesting on any number of levels. On a historical level Takanori Gomi would be one I’d love to see, as well. Varner is such an interesting matchup problem for many lightweights that he a ton of good matchups could be had.

Ulysses Gomez vs. Josh Ferguson – Gomez got wrecked on the undercard and Ferguson lost a tough decision. Eventually one of these guys is going to have to win a fight in the UFC and it could be now. I could see Gomez vs. Ian McCall being made, as well. The loser of Yasuhiro Urushitani vs. John Lineker might be a possible matchup as well. Gomez has a pedigree of some degree and a winnable fight might be on the horizon. At flyweight there’s more leeway for Gomez because of the newness of the division and the real lack of depth; good guys can lose 2-3 times and not be on the cut list because the division is barely in the double digits in terms of numbers.

DaMarques Johnson vs. Chris Clements – Johnson looked like a game opponent for Swick, despite being knocked out, and I think he gets another matchup in the UFC. Clements is a nice guy and this would make for a fun fight. Johnson’s ceiling has been set and it’s not high; Clements has a low ceiling as well based on his age. Clements has a bad loss to Matt Riddle and a good win in his debut; it’s also a striker/grappler matchup and the UFC puts on a lot of those in the welterweight division.

No Decision-ers

Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado – Zuffa is making this match later in the year after the minute eye poke ended it and it still makes sense.

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