TUF Finale Results: Post-Fight Matchmaking for the Entire Fight Card
With his submission win over Al Iaquinta on Friday night, Mike Chiesa wrapped one of the best stories in The Ultimate Fighter history by becoming the winner of the reality series weeks after losing his father. The undefeated 24-year-old will now look to make a name for himself in the UFC's unforgiving lightweight division.
Also at the event, Martin Kampmann picked up a huge win over Jake Ellenberger and put himself within striking distance of a long-awaited welterweight title shot. With one more victory over a top 170-pound opponent, Kampmann could find himself competing for the title.
With another UFC event in the books, let's take a look at who could be next for Kampmann, Chiesa and the rest of The Ultimate Fighter finale competitors.
John Albert vs. Nick Denis
Controversial or not, John Albert's submission loss to Erik Perez on Friday night was his second straight defeat. Albert received his win bonus due to a questionable referee stoppage, in which it appeared Albert hadn't submitted, but that will be forgotten by the time Albert returns. If Albert loses his next fight, all that will be remembered is his three-fight losing streak.
Two very talented young fighters coming off of losses, Albert and Nick Denis are bantamweights who the UFC will want to keep around to help build the division. However, the only way to ensure one of these fighters will get back on a winning track is to match them up against one another.
By matching a flashy striker like Denis with a wildly entertaining fighter like Albert, the UFC will be able to put together a bout that will entertain fans and guarantee that one of these 135-pound fighters will have the win they might need to prove they are UFC-level athletes.
Erik Perez vs. Roland Delorme
While his armbar might not have solicited a verbal submission from John Albert, Erik Perez did perform well on Friday night and deserves an opponent who is also coming off of a win. Since we set Albert up against Nick Denis, let's match Perez up against the most recent fighter to defeat Denis.
With back-to-back wins since his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter, Roland Delorme has solidified his position on the UFC's bantamweight roster and is on the same level as Perez. A bout between Perez and Delorme would give one fighter the chance to earn a step up in competition.
Myles Jury vs. Joe Proctor
With their respective wins over Chris Saunders and Jeremy Larsen, who both will likely be released from the UFC, Myles Jury and Joe Proctor have secured their spots in the world's premier MMA organization.
Before being thrown into what is probably the most competitive division in the sport, Jury and Proctor could probably use one more fight against a TUF castmate, so let's pair them up against one another and see which 155-pound fighter is more prepared to make a run in the lightweight division.
Daron Cruickshank vs. Marcus LeVesseur
Daron Cruickshank showed some solid wrestling in his victory over Chris Tickle on Friday night, but he has a long way to climb in the lightweight division, so he'll have to start with an opponent near the bottom of the heap.
The UFC couldn't have been impressed with the debut of Marcus LeVesseur, who recently was added to the long list of fighters to be submitted by Cody McKenzie's guillotine choke. A loss to Cruickshank would give the UFC more than enough reason to part ways with LeVesseur, whose strong wrestling background would at least provide a tough test for Cruickshank.
John Cofer vs. Chris Tickle
Of this season's TUF cast members who lost at the finale, aside from Al Iaquinta, there are probably only two fighters who could potentially be given another chance inside the Octagon. John Cofer earned Fight of the Night honors at the event, making it tough to release him from the organization, and Chris Tickle was the only loser to go to the scorecards and was one of the more intriguing personalities from the show.
It's quite possible both fighters will be released, but let's give them one more shot with their UFC careers on the line. Much like they did with the first season of TUF on Spike TV, the UFC will want to keep as many participants on their roster as makes sense to popularize the sport with FX's audience.
Justin Lawrence vs. Sam Sicilia
After his brutal head kick knockout of John Cofer, there are going to be some who want to see the talented Justin Lawrence against a top lightweight striker. However, the 22-year-old Lawrence could still use some seasoning before he meets a high-caliber lightweight.
Despite his outstanding striking offense, Lawrence seems to have holes in his striking defense and was hit by Cofer a good bit on Friday night. Matching Lawrence up against the heavy-hitting Sam Sicilia will ensure improved striking defense and will teach Sicilia that he can't wing punches for an entire fight at this level.
Max Holloway vs. Dennis Bermudez
After being submitted by Dustin Poirier in his UFC debut, Max Holloway dominated Pat Schilling on Friday night. Similarly, Dennis Bermudez rebounded from a first-round loss to Diego Brandao by beating Pablo Garza in his most recent appearance.
By matching the 20-year-old Holloway against the 25-year-old Bermudez, the UFC will get an indication of which young featherweight is more prepared for a bout with an elite 145-pound fighter. Bermudez's excellent wrestling will also force Holloway to improve his ground game.
Jonathan Brookins vs. Dustin Poirier
Though Jonathan Brookins hasn't been able to put together an impressive winning streak in the UFC, he should still be considered a potential featherweight contender, considering he was only narrowly defeated by current top contender Erik Koch.
A bout between Brookins and Dustin Poirier would give the winner a chance to jump back into the wide open race for a featherweight title shot. With champion Jose Aldo potentially moving to the lightweight division in the near future and considering Brookins name value as a former TUF winner, a rebound win over Poirier could put him within one or two more victories of a title fight.
Charles Oliveira vs. Dennis Siver
On Friday night, Charles Oliveira picked up a dominant win over Jonathan Brookins by locking up a submission in the second round. With back-to-back wins, it appears the 22-year-old Brazilian could finally be hitting his stride.
Since moving to the 145-pound division, former lightweights Oliveira and Dennis Siver have picked up big wins and separated themselves as contenders. A bout between Oliveira and Siver would produce an entertaining striking exchange and a potential title challenger.
Al Iaquinta vs. Tony Ferguson
Al Iaquinta came one victory short of winning the latest season of TUF, but he remains a bright prospect in the lightweight division. Iaquinta's next fight will come against an opponent who lost their last fight, but he should meet a fighter with some name recognition to continue building his popularity.
Against Michael Johnson, Tony Ferguson suffered a loss to a TUF runner-up in his last bout. Let's give Ferguson a chance to make up for that loss by matching him up with another TUF runner-up in Iaquinta.
Mike Chiesa vs. Mac Danzig
As the first winner of an FX-televised season of TUF, Mike Chiesa will be given every opportunity for a fast push to the top of the lightweight division. That being said, Chiesa isn't quite ready for 155-pound contenders, so he'll need a win or two against well-known middle-of-the-pack lightweights first.
A bout against another former TUF winner in Mac Danzig would create a nice storyline while allowing Chiesa to ease his way into the toughest division in the entire sport.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Josh Koscheck
Lately, there's been some interest in B.J. Penn coming out of retirement to meet Josh Koscheck. However, a bout between Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger would now make a lot of sense as well after "The Juggernaut" suffered an upset loss to Martin Kampmann on Friday night.
Considering Ellenberger and Koscheck, who last lost in a split decision against Johny Hendricks, were so recently close to championship bouts, a fight between the welterweights would allow the winner to quickly jump back into the title picture.
Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks
Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks certainly weren't flawless in their recent wins. Kampmann was rocked multiple times before knocking out Jake Ellenberger and Hendricks eked out a decision win over Josh Koscheck.
Nonetheless, these two welterweights have paid their dues and separated themselves as the best 170-pound fighters behind champion Georges St-Pierre and interim champion Carlos Condit. As soon as they're ready to go, Kampmann and Hendricks should meet for a chance to face the winner of a title fight between St-Pierre and Condit that seems like it will happen in November.