Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares Results: Fights for Belcher to Take Next

Rob Tatum@RobTatumMMAContributor IMay 6, 2012

Alan Belcher vs. Rousimar Palhares Results: Fights for Belcher to Take Next

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    Middleweight Alan Belcher may be the forgotten man in the 185-pound division.

    Having competed just three times in the past three years, it's easy to overlook the fact that Belcher has gone 8-2 in his last 10 Octagon appearances.

    With an impressive performance against lethal grappler Rousimar Palhares, it's time for Belcher to make a title run.

    That is, if he can find an opponent.

    Unfortunately, the majority of the division has fights scheduled, and Belcher may be forced to sit back and wait for his next challenge.

    Here are five potential opponents for the veteran.

Michael Bisping/Tim Boetsch winner

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    Whoever comes out of this UFC 149 contrast of styles matchup will likely need at least one more win before getting a title shot.

    That's where Belcher comes in.

    Bisping dropped his fight to current No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen, and Boetsch needed a dramatic, third-round comeback against Yushin Okami.

    Either fighter would pose an interesting fight for Belcher. Against Bisping, Belcher could showcase his striking prowess, whereas Boetsch would put his wrestling and clinch skills to the test.

Rich Franklin/Cung Le winner

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    I know what you're thinking: Why would Belcher want to face the winner of this fight?

    Despite the fact that Franklin and Le are past their primes, they have name value. If there is one knock on Belcher's current run, it is a lack of a signature win over a fighter that casual MMA fans would recognize.

    And although Franklin and Le may be in the twilight of their careers, both have the skill sets to push Belcher. Other than Anderson Silva, few have dominated Franklin, and Le's Sanshou is a puzzle for most of his opponents.

Vitor Belfort/Wanderlei Silva winner

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    The UFC 147 headliner is a rematch of a 1998 UFC: Ultimate Brazil fight in which Belfort dismantled Silva in just 44 seconds. It is hard to imagine the second fight going much different based on each fighter's recent body of work.

    Essentially, the target matchup would be Belcher versus Belfort.

    Belfort possesses some of the fastest hands in all of MMA and, like Belcher, has his eyes on a title shot. A collision between these two would produce fireworks on the feet.

Mark Munoz/Chris Weidman winner

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    This battle of wrestlers may yield the most difficult test for Belcher to date.

    Although the Munoz-Weidman winner may be the next in line for a title shot, stranger things have happened.

    If there is one component of Belcher's well-rounded attack that may not be on par with his striking and jiu-jitsu, it is his wrestling.

    Although he does have a win over Sean Salmon, he dropped a decision to Yushin Okami. And both of those fights were more than five years ago.

    Munoz or Weidman could be the litmus test to see if Belcher is a true contender.

Brian Stann/Hector Lombard winner

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    In terms of entertainment value, the best fight for Belcher has to be the winner of the UFC on Fox 4 bout between Stann and Lombard.

    As if that fight doesn't have fireworks written all over it, a stand-up duel with Belcher and either fighter is even more enticing.

    Can Belcher's Muay Thai best Lombard's boxing? Could he avoid Stann's dynamite fists?

    Either way, it's a fight that the fans would love and could go a long way toward determining the next title challenger at middleweight.