Gabriel Gonzaga should fight in Brazil more often.
The former heavyweight title contender impressed in his octagon return at UFC 142 on Saturday night, picking up a first-round submission victory over undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt Ednaldo Oliveira.
Gonzaga, a world-renowned BJJ specialist, has been criticized in the past for ignoring his grappling strengths and opting to stand and bang. This certainly wasn't the case at UFC 142. Fans finally saw a Gonzaga who was committed to getting the fight to the ground and utilizing his submission skills.
There are still a plethora of doubters surrounding Gonzaga's recent resurgence. Despite a steep skid in recent years, Gonzaga is still a relevant name in the heavyweight division. It's going to take much more than a submission win over Oliveira to convince fans Gonzaga has finally seen the promised land.
The Brazilian superstar was cut from the UFC back in 2010 following back-to-back losses to Junior Dos Santos and Brendan Schaub.
If Gonzaga has truly learned from past mistakes, he has the skill set to be a dark horse in the heavyweight division.
Here are five fights for him to take next.
Gonzaga was once considered a top-tier heavyweight, but those times are long and gone.
A bout against the winner of the upcoming UFC on Fox 2 heavyweight bout between Mike Russow and Jon Olav Einemo makes the most sense.
Russow, who has won his last 10 fights, is quietly creeping up the heavyweight ladder, and he has the sort of style to test whether or not Gonzaga has truly eliminated bad habits.
Einemo is another middle-of-the-pack heavyweight with the skill set and style to make things interesting.
Before his loss to Cheick Kongo at UFC 137, Matt Mitrione was being hailed as the next heavyweight contender.
The loss represented a major step back for the former NFL player. A win over a veteran like Gonzaga is exactly what Mitrione needs to regain relevance in the division.
For Gonzaga, the bout with Mitrione represents an opportunity to breathe new life into his career.
Rob Broughton was originally slated to fight Oliveira at UFC 142, but an injury forced him to withdraw from the bout.
This opened up the opportunity for Gonzaga to be named as a late replacement and resurrect his UFC career.
It would make sense for the UFC to put Broughton against the man who beat his original opponent.
Gonzaga's primary problem throughout his UFC career was his tendency to engage into unnecessary standup exchanges.
Pat Barry and Christian Morecraft are both aggressive fighters that don't mind throwing down in the pocket.
Can Gonzaga keep his composure under pressure and stick to his initial game plan, or would an over-aggressive striker still bring out the worst in the Brazilian?
Barry or Morecraft could answer that question.
A bout with Sergei Khartitonov would be an incredibly tough outing for Gonzaga, but for fans, this is a solid matchup.
Gonzaga still needs to work on defensive deficiencies in his standup, but he is a formidable threat on the feet for any heavyweight.
Against a kickboxer of Kharitonov's stature, Gonzaga may opt to take the bout to the ground rather sooner than later.