UFC fights that makes sense for the future
By: Chip Sedory
In the aftermath of UFC 147 and UFC on FX that saw Rich Franklin, Grey Maynard and Fabricio Werdum victorious in their fights, here are a few matches that should make sense based on the current rankings and title picture. With the heavyweight and lightweight divisions stacked with would be title challengers, and a middleweight division littered with Anderson Silva’s victims these fights could help clear up the respective title pictures as well as give the fans some great fights.
Rich Franklin Vs Michael Bisping: Both fighters want a title shot sooner than later this match makes sense for a lot of reasons besides being a great fight. You have Franklin the former long time champion returning to middle weight whose only losses at 185 came to incumbent titleholder Anderson Silva. Franklin made it clear after his victory of Wanderlei Silva that he’s back at middle weight with a title shot in his sights. At 37 his window to make a final run at the title is closing and he will need wins over several top contenders to sell Joe Silva and Dana White on a 3rd match with Silva. A matchup with Bisping certainly fits the bill as an exciting bout, with title implications that UFC matchmakers and fans would love to see.
In Bisping you have a fighter who has compiled an 8-3 record at 185 including his most recent fight, a competitive and somewhat controversial loss to current #1 contender Chael Sonnen. Bisping has publicly stated that he wants the winner of Sonnen Vs Silva 2, and a quality win over a top contender like Franklin would help his case greatly considering he is currently 0-3 against ranked fighters (Henderson, W.Silva, and Sonnen) as a middle weight. This match has fight of the night written all over it.
Fabricio Werdum Vs Frank Mir: A match up between the heavyweight divisions two most dangerous submission artists. Each fighter has already lost to current champion Junior Dos Santos, but their careers seem to be headed in different directions. While both veteran fighters are ranked in the top 10, former champion Mir’s one sided loss to Dos Santos all but keeps him out of the title picture in the foreseeable future. However, Mir is still dangerous enough to beat many would be contenders and represents a significant test for Werdum.
Werdum has defeated Antonio Silva, the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, and taken top contender Allistair Overeem to a competitive 3 round decision since his upset loss to the then unknown Dos Santos. He has showcased a dramatically improved stand up game since returning to the UFC in his wins over the durable Roy Nelson and Mike Russow. Werdum sniffs title contention with a win over Mir, while a victory for Mir allows him to remain relevant and step above gatekeeper status.
Mike Russow Vs Roy Nelson: While this match up of Fabricio Werdum’s two latest victims won’t be headlining any UFC cards any time soon, or represent a clinic on MMA training regimens, it certainly won’t lack for action. This actually is a good match up for these two durable fighters who are by most accounts just outside of the UFC top 10 at heavyweight. In what may be dubbed as the battle of the man boobs, you have two veteran fighters who are very willing to stand toe to toe for three rounds give the fans an exciting fight. Both fighters have generally been good enough to beat the 2nd and 3rd tier fighters put in front of them, but struggled with the division elite. This match up puts one of these fighters back on the winning track and could potentially set up a match with the winner of Browne Vs Rothwell as each man looks to climb into the top 10 rankings.
Wanderlei Silva Vs Vitor Belfort or Yushin Okami: Silva Vs Belfort 2 never happened due to Belfort’s injury, but would this match would still draw as a headliner on FX or compliment a solid PPV card. While Silva is approaching the end of his legendary career, his recent fights against Franklin and Cung Le indicate that he still has some entertaining matches left in him if he is matched up against the right opponents. Belfort is still a rival whose injury left their potential rematch as little more than unfinished business. At 3-1 since returning to the UFC, it appears that the move to 185 has been the right one for Belfort. Belfort is pushing for a rematch with Anderson Silva who dispatched “The Phenom” in brutal fashion. A matchup against a contender seems more likely than provided Belfort remains at 185 as he has talked about a possible move back to 205 in the near future. Dana White’s recent comments also make this match seem less likely in light of Silva’s loss to Franklin.
In light of these developments Yushin Okami makes sense as a possible opponent for Wanderlei Silva. Both former perennial contenders are in need of a win as each man is coming off of a loss (two in Okami’s case). In considering favorable opponents for Silva, Okami matches up well as his name has some marquee value remaining and Okami has generally been willing to stand and trade with opponents despite a relative lack of one punch KO power (something to consider given Silva’s suspect chin at this point in his career). This could set up a meaningful, yet competitive fight for both men who are likely well out of the title picture at this point.
Gray Maynard Vs Anthony Pettis: With a new champ at 155 Maynard is right back in the hunt for the title (assuming Henderson gets by Edgar in their rematch). Maynard gave Edgar all he could handle in their 3 fights going 1-1-1 against the former champion. While a 4th match against Edgar would be a tough sell based on the current bottle neck of contenders, a win over the last man to beat Henderson could get Maynard a second shot at the gold in very short order.
Pettis has the unique distinction of being the final WEC lightweight champion, as well as the only active fighter with a win over current champion Benson Henderson. Pettis won a razor thin decision over Henderson that is best remembered for Pettis executing a Matrix-esque kick off the cage to steal the final round of their classic fight. Pettis seemed like the next logical challenger for then champion Frankie Edgar before his loss to Clay Guida. Coming off of two solid wins, in addition to his previous victory of Henderson, a win over the highly regarded Maynard would all but lock up a title shot at against the winner of Edgar Vs Henderson 2.
Clay Guida Vs Donald Cerrone: Provided Guida doesn’t employ his plan on implementing his new track meet strategy again this has FOTN written all over it between 2 top 10 fighters at 155. It’s rare for either Cerrone or Guida to be in anything less than an exciting fight. Cerrone has put together an impressive 5-1 record since making the jump from WEC to UFC, and looked to be on track for a title shot before being derailed by Nate Diaz. A top 10 win over a competitor like Guida would help Cerrone make the case for a rematch against Ben Henderson who defeated him in twice in the WEC.
Guida is coming off back to back losses after a 4 fight win streak that had him one fight away from a title shot. While Guida is always competitive in his fights he has yet to take the next step when it comes to consistently beating the top fighters in the 155 division. It will likely take 2-3 quality wins to get Guida back into the title picture as the list of contenders ahead of him continues to grow. The light weight division is perhaps the deepest in the UFC, and this kind of fight represents a must win for both Guida and Cerrone if either fighter hopes to see a title fight in the next 2 years
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