UFC 144 Results: 5 Fights for Vaughn Lee to Take Next

Andrew MahlmannCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2012

UFC 144 Results: 5 Fights for Vaughn Lee to Take Next

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    English bantamweight Vaughn Lee picked up the biggest win of his career by submitting respected veteran Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto at 4:29 of the first round.

    Considered a legend in Japanese and lighter-weight MMA, Yamamoto has fought a cornucopia of top international talent, but the fight against Lee marks just the first submission loss in his 11-year career.

    Lee moves to a 12-7-1 record with a 1-1 UFC record, his UFC debut being a split-decision loss to contender Chris Cariaso.

    The upset victory puts Lee in an interesting place in the UFC bantamweight division. An impressive showing is often more important than two conservative decision victories, so Lee now finds himself at a chance to jump up the ladder.

    Here are five fights for Vaughn Lee to take next.

5. Chris Cariaso

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    I'm sure Lee would love to avenge his split-decision loss to Cariaso from last November.

    Cariaso has now won two in a row, but they have been less than emphatic, and the UFC would likely not mind seeing him take this rematch to try to be a bit more convincing.

    Plus, rematches are fun.

4. Takeya Mizugaki

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    Also at UFC 144, Mizugaki lost a close and controversial decision to Chris Cariaso.

    In fact, so close was the fight that UFC President Dana White announced that Mizugaki would be getting paid his win bonus.

    A bantamweight title challenger in 2009, Mizugaki came up short and has been alternating wins and losses ever since.

    Mizugaki would be an appropriate barometer for how ready Vaughn Lee really is for the bigger, high-profile matchups.

3. Eddie Wineland

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    A former world champion, Eddie Wineland has now lost two decisions in a row.

    Still only 27 years old, Wineland is certainly looking to turn his fortunes around. 

    A dangerous knockout artist for the bantamweight division, Wineland would be looking to keep the fight standing as he always does. 

    Lee's game is very well rounded, but as he showed against Yamamoto, his submissions can be a threat to anyone.

2. Jeff Curran

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    One of the most experienced veteran fighters in the game, Curran still brings a very dangerous game.

    In his return to the UFC (he is a WEC vet and fought Matt Serra in the UFC back in 2004), he fought very well in losing a decision to highly ranked Scott Jorgensen.

    Curran would be another terrific name for Lee to add to his mantle, but Curran brings a craftiness and experience that is a danger to anybody in the division. 

1. Raphael Assuncao

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    Long considered a force in the featherweight division, Brazilian Raphael Assuncao dropped down for his bantamweight debut last August and picked up a victory against Johnny Eduardo.

    Assuncao should be due to return to action any time now, and a matchup against Lee could prove to be a barn-burner.