The recent BJ vs. GSP clash got me thinking about the immediate landscape in the UFC with regards to Contenders and possible fights in 2009.
This is probably the most exciting time in the UFC and things can change dramatically in all weight classes throughout the year, with one possible exception.
So lets start with the...
Although my heart wanted BJ to win his recent bout with GSP, my head firmly wanted him to lose. I have a problem with someone holding two belts because it means, in simple terms we see our favourite fighters fight less!
So with BJ's defeat, the title shot firmly belongs to Kenny Florian, who has been extremely impressive in recent bouts. Can he win? Yes.
It all depends on BJ's attitude and demeanor after losing to GSP. Will he be invigorated at lightweight, or has GSP grounded and pounded the passion out of the Hawaiian? We can only wait and see.
We then have the prospects of of Clay Guida and Sean Sherk on the horizon. If I were a betting man, I'd put money on Florian-Guida late in 2009.
Because of the dominance of GSP, the welterweight horizon does not seem to have as many prospects capable of winning the title as their 155-pound ilk. However, it is made extremely exciting by the seemingly unstoppable Thiago Alves.
GSP vs. Alves is without a doubt one of my most eagerly anticipated fights of 2009, and I can see Thiago taking home the W and becoming the champ. Look for a rematch or perhaps a Koscheck rematch for the victor late 2009.
This is my one possible exception alluded to earlier. I personally think Anderson Silva is slightly overrated; he is exceptional but not invincible.
There are two reasons why in 2009 he will no doubt retain the belt. No. 1, he will probably only defend once in late 2009 due to TUF9.
The winner of the coaches, Bisping vs. Henderson will face Silva for the title but we have to get the show out of the way and then the contender battle.
No. 2, I don't believe either Bisping or Henderson will defeat Silva. I am from the UK and my heart is firmly behind Bisping but my head says different.
Bisping is a very good kickboxer and strategist. The problem is, Silva is an exceptional kickboxer and strategist, and we all saw what happened to Dan last time he tangled with the Spider.
I'd love Bisping to take the title, and I think he has the best chance at middleweight but I have to say, Silva will leave 2009 still the champ.
Another very exciting weight class but with some strange decisions made by Joel Silva. Rampage vs. Jardine for the contender? There are so many talented fighters in this division I cant understand why this match was made.
Regardless of this, Rampage vs. Evans looks on the cards in the near future. I can see Rampage taking this one with his newfound passion; however, in late 2009 Lyoto Machida will probably take the title from whoever has it.
There's always the outside chance of Anderson Silva looking for the title late 2009. We may even see Machida Vs. Silva for the title shot.
I love the big guys at the moment. There's ample talent at the top and some really good-looking prospects.
I think Mir vs. Lesnar is too tough to call, but I would like to look at the other contenders for a moment and make my personal pick for the top.
On the horizon, we have the likes of Cain Vasquez and Cheick Kongo, but a much more immediate threat and the the probable next bout for the victor of Mir vs. Lesnar will be the winner of Carwin Vs. Gonzaga.
I'm picking Carwin to go all the way to the title. He has been so dominant I can't believe the UFC have not pushed him sooner.
However the arrival of Brock Lesnar and the Mir Vs. Nog TUF8 bout will have something to do with the fact he has been kept on the undercard. Look for Carwin leaving 2009 with the belt.
The UFC looks great at the moment and there are some amazing fights coming up. All I have to say to close is, "Bring it on."