While the UFC on FX 4 main event between lightweights Gray Maynard and Clay Guida disappointed, the fight card shook up the featherweight significantly with some entertaining matchups.
After refusing an offered title shot, Hatsu Hioki suffered an upset loss at the hands of Ricardo Lamas, who is now undefeated at 145 pounds and nearing a shot at the belt. Meanwhile, Cub Swanson also picked up an impressive knockout win over former 155-pound fighter Ross Pearson.
With Jose Aldo recovering from injury, now is a better time than ever for featherweight contenders to separate themselves and stake their claim for a spot in a championship bout.
As they look to continue their climb up the division's ladder, let's take a look at who could be next for Lamas, Swanson and the rest of the UFC on FX 4 competitors.
Following a win over Jared Papazian only two weeks ago, Dustin Pague took a short-notice fight with Ken Stone at UFC on FX 4. While he came out on the wrong end of a split decision, Pague undoubtedly gained the favor of the UFC brass by showing his willingness to take a fight at any time.
That being said, Pague will probably want some time off after fighting twice in June, so a bout with the winner of a UFC 149 bout between fellow TUF contestant Bryan Caraway and Mitch Gagnon could make sense for his next appearance.
With his win over Dustin Pague on Friday night, Ken Stone has won two straight contests and can now look to begin a climb up the bantamweight ladder.
Stone was originally scheduled to fight Francisco Rivera at UFC on FX 4, but an injury forced Rivera off of the fight card shortly before the event. After Stone's win, the UFC should consider rebooking his bout against Rivera for later this year.
After losing two in a row at middleweight, Dan Miller opted to make the move to welterweight, where he picked up a win over Ricardo Funch. Many expected a more dominant performance from Miller against Funch, but it was a step in the right direction for the AMA Fight Club product.
With a victory over Luis Ramos at UFC on FX 4, Matt Brown now has won three straight fights, so he's ready for a bout with a more experienced and skilled opponent. A bout between Brown and Miller would give the winner enough momentum to campaign for a fight with a welterweight contender.
Prior to a one-year layoff, Nick Catone had won back-to-back fights and appeared ready to make a run at the top of the middleweight division. However, his ring rust showed at UFC on FX 4, where he suffered his first loss in three years at the hands of Chris Camozzi.
Catone is a talented 185-pound fighter, but he should take a step back in competition and try to rediscover himself as a fighter. A bout with Caio Magalhaes, who is coming off of a loss in his UFC debut, would allow Catone to do just that.
After beating Nick Catone with some impressive striking, Chris Camozzi has won two straight and appears to be hitting his stride as a fighter. While he's not ready for a top middleweight, he deserves a more high-profile fight for his next appearance.
On Saturday, the middleweight winner the UFC's first Brazilian season of TUF will be determined. Camozzi would be a good test for the winner of the 185-pound final between Cezar Ferreira and Sergio Moraes, while a potential win over the TUF champion would help Camozzi to build his resume.
Joey Gambino came up short in his UFC debut, losing for the first time in his MMA career. Still, Gambino could have a bright future in the UFC and should be given a reasonable opportunity to bounce back against the loser of a UFC 147 bout between Felipe Arantes and Milton Vieira.
Since appearing on TUF, Steven Siler has gone undefeated in three official UFC bouts. After a first-round stoppage of Joey Gambino on Friday night, Siler appears ready for a step up in competition.
Let's give Siler the winner of a UFC 147 bout between Godofredo Pepey and Rony Mariano Bezerra. The winner of that fight between Pepey and Bezerra will be crowned the featherweight winner of the first TUF season in Brazil, so Siler would provide a reasonable challenge for either fighter.
In their respective fights against Rick Story and Matt Brown, Brock Jardine and Luis Ramos bit off more than they could chew at UFC on FX 4. Still, both fighters deserve another shot inside the Octagon before they are written off as not being worthy of a UFC roster spot.
A bout between Jardine and Ramos would allow the UFC to trim some fat from its deep welterweight roster, while it would give on of these fighters an avenue to get back on track and try to earn job security in the world's premier MMA organization.
With his dominant win over Brock Jardine, Rick Story snapped a two-fight losing streak and can finally refocus on becoming a 170-pound contender. Jardine was a significant step back in competition for Story, though, so he'll have to ease his way back into competition with top-level opponents.
A bout with John Hathaway, a borderline contender who is also on the rebound, would make the most sense for Story's next contest and could give him a chance to avenge a loss from his UFC debut. The winner of said fight would be more than deserving of another shot at a highly-ranked welterweight.
In his UFC debut against Ramsey Nijem, C.J. Keith scored an early takedown, but he was quickly reversed and stopped with ground-and-pound in the first round.
Having missed weight for the fight, Keith is in danger of being cut from the UFC, but there's also a chance he'll get one more shot inside the Octagon. If he does return, a bout with Justin Salas would make a lot of sense, as Salas is also coming off of a loss.
In a close fight, Ricardo Lamas scored a massive upset against top featherweight contender Hatsu Hioki on Friday night. Now, Lamas is a win or two away from earning a shot at the featherweight belt.
A win over fellow Brazilian Charles Oliveira, who recently dominated Jonathan Brookins, would give Lamas more than enough of an argument for a shot at the 145-pound title. The matchup between Lamas and Oliveira would also provide an exciting fight between two well-rounded competitors.
Hatsu Hioki and Ross Pearson were both quickly rising toward the top of the featherweight division heading into UFC on FX 4, but both fighters suffered deflating losses against respective opponents Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson.
Both 145-pound fighters will be looking to jump back into title contention as quickly as possible, so the UFC should consider matching Hioki and Pearson against one another. The fight would draw attention, as Hioki and Pearson are two of the most well-known featherweights in the sport, while it would also give one fighter the chance to pick up a big win and put themselves right back where they were heading into Friday night.
After his win over Ross Pearson at UFC on FX 4, many would like to see Cub Swanson jump straight into the mix for a featherweight title shot. However, Swanson is only two fights removed from a submission loss against Ricardo Lamas and could use another couple wins before he can be considered a serious contender.
Having won three straight fights against stiff competition, Darren Elkins is also working toward a fight with a top featherweight contender. Let's match Swanson against Elkins in an effort to see which fighter is truly more prepared for a bout with one of the division's best.
The 24-year-old T.J. Waldburger has the potential to become a future welterweight contender, but his loss to Brian Ebersole on Friday night showed he isn't quite ready. Waldburger threatened Ebersole with submissions, but he wasn't able to lock anything up throughout the three-round fight.
Waldburger is one of the most entertaining grapplers in the sport, so let's match him up against another dangerous submission artist who is coming off a loss. A bout between Waldburger and Carlos Eduardo Rocha would turn into a great matchup for jiu-jitsu fans.
Following his win over T.J. Waldburger, Brian Ebersole is contemplating a move to the lightweight division. However, Ebersole has looked like a large welterweight and even competed at heavyweight earlier in his career.
Until Ebersole actually has a fight scheduled at 155 pounds, we'll assume he's staying at welterweight, where he is on the verge of becoming a contender. A bout with Mike Pierce, who is looking to slowly work his way back toward another contest with an elite 170-pound fighter, would give Ebersole the chance to break into the top 10 with a win over a fighter who has nearly beaten Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck.
Spencer Fisher came out on the losing end of his rubber match with Sam Stout on Friday night, suffering his third straight loss. However, Stout delivered a Fight of the Night performance and should be given another UFC fight if he decides to continue competing.
Against Stout, Fisher's striking looked as crisp as ever. The 36-year-old will never be a lightweight contender, but he is certainly capable of producing exciting stand-up battled with fellow strikers like John Makdessi.
Sam Stout got back in the win column on Friday night, but most expected a more decisive win over the aging Spencer Fisher. At this point, Stout is still a long way from contending in the 155-pound division, so he'd be better served as a challenge for up-and-coming fighters.
Since losing in a TUF final against Tony Ferguson, Ramsey Nijem has won two straight fights and appears ready for a step up in competition. Against Stout, Nijem would be tested on his feet, where his skills were lacking against Ferguson.
A lackluster performance against Gray Maynard may ruin Clay Guida's chances of ever competing for UFC's the lightweight title. Although he wasn't hit often by Maynard, Guida didn't look like a fighter who was competing to win.
Guida will now probably receive a fight with another contender who is coming off of a loss. A bout with Jim Miller would hopefully bring out a more exciting version of Guida, who was criticized by UFC president Dana White for his performance on Friday night.
While it wasn't the type of win he'd been hoping for, Gray Maynard took a step closer to another shot at the lightweight title with his victory over Clay Guida in the UFC on FX 4 main event. Following the fight, Maynard was angered by Guida's unassertive game plan, stating that he came to fight.
If it is a fight Maynard seeks, it is a fight he will get against the always game Donald Cerrone. Cerrone is still seeking the career-defining win that would earn him a shot at the 155-pound title. Against Maynard, Cerrone would have a chance to secure that win.