UFC on Fuel TV 4 Results: Post-Fight Matchmaking for the Entire Fight Card
The UFC's middleweight division has a new star in Chris Weidman. In the UFC on Fuel TV 4 main event, Weidman thoroughly dominated Mark Munoz and became the first 185-pound fighter to ever finish the former NCAA champion wrestler.
In beating Munoz convincingly, Weidman has separated himself as the leading candidate to face off against Anderson Silva when the middleweight champion returns to defend his title. Able to take Munoz to the ground with ease on both of his two takedown attempts Wednesday night, Weidman may have the skill set to carry out the blueprint Chael Sonnen laid for defeating Silva.
While Weidman currently appears to be more deserving of the title shot than any other middleweight, that does not necessarily mean he will be getting one in his next appearance. Let's take a look at who should be next for Weidman and the rest of the UFC on Fuel TV 4 competitors.
Issei Tamura vs. Roland Delorme-Francisco Rivera Loser
Issei Tamura was impressive in his UFC debut, knocking out Tiequan Zhang in brutal fashion. However, a move from featherweight to bantamweight backfired for Tamura at UFC on Fuel TV 4 where he was unable to deal with the more technical and diverse striking of Raphael Assuncao.
With his loss to Assuncao, Tamura has now dropped three of his past five fights and could be heading in the direction of training partner Norifumi Yamamoto whose UFC career is in jeopardy after suffering defeats in five of his past six appearances.
While his striking was lacking on Wednesday, it is the power in Tamura's hands that makes him dangerous at 135 pounds. A bout with another wild slugger, Francisco Rivera, would provide potential for fireworks should "Cisco" lose his upcoming fight against Roland Delorme.
Dan Stittgen vs. Keith Wisniewski
Starting a UFC career with two straight losses is not a good way to keep a gig with the world's premier MMA organization, but Dan Stittgen was competitive in his split decision loss against undefeated newcomer Marcel Guimaraes at UFC on Fuel TV 4. Because one judge scored the bout in Stittgen's favor, it would not be at all surprising if Stittgen receives one more opportunity to pick up a win inside the Octagon.
Like Stittgen, Keith Wisniewski has lost both of his bouts in his current stint with the UFC and suffered his most recent loss via split decision against Chris Clements. Since Stittgen and Wisniewski are in such similar positions it seems to make perfect sense for them to meet in a matchup to determine which fighter can continue competing in the UFC.
Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Chris Clements-Matt Riddle Winner
While he wasn't overly impressive in picking up a decision win over Dan Stittgen in his UFC debut, Marcelo Guimaraes remained unbeaten and a potentially bright prospect in the welterweight division. Still, Guimaraes will need to be brought along slowly for the best results as his performance against Stittgen did not indicate he's ready for a step up in competition.
For Guimaraes, a matchup with the winner of a UFC 149 fight between Chris Clements and Matt Riddle seems to make the most sense for his progression in the 170-pound division.
Rafael Natal vs.Clifford Starks
Having rocked Andrew Craig early in the frame, Rafael Natal was beginning to appear overconfident in the later parts of the second round of his bout at UFC on Fuel TV 4. With eight seconds remaining in the stanza, that brashness led Natal into a right head kick that resulted in his second UFC loss.
This was not the first time Natal has been put away by a head kick. In July 2008, the Brazilian suffered the same fate in the second round of a bout against Eduardo Telles.
Natal is a talented fighter. He wouldn't have won two straight fights at the UFC level if he weren't, but he needs to harness his emotions inside the cage. The 29-year-old is going to have to take a step back after this loss. However, the UFC should match Natal up against another heavy hitter in Clifford Starks to see if he can learn from his mistakes.
Andrew Craig vs. Tom Lawlor
Andrew Craig has been far from flawless inside the Octagon, but he keeps finding ways to win.
In his UFC debut, Craig lost the first round on the scorecards before taking advantage of a Kyle Noke injury and rallying back to win the final two rounds. On Wednesday, Craig found himself in trouble once again as he was rocked multiple times by Rafael Natal. However, in the closing seconds of the second round, Craig landed a perfectly timed head kick to complete an outstanding comeback.
Without winning in more dominant fashion it will be hard for Craig to earn a significant step up in competition, but he'll keep meeting opponents who are coming off of wins as long as his hand continues to be raised at the end of his fights. A bout with Tom Lawlor, who knocked out Jason MacDonald in his most recent contest, would be intriguing for Craig's next appearance.
Chris Cariaso vs. John Dodson
This bout between Chris Cariaso and John Dodson was one I had proposed for Cariaso's flyweight debut. However, now that he has picked up a win at 125 pounds in a decision against Josh Ferguson, it seems to make even more sense for Cariaso to meet Dodson in a bout that could separate the winner as a flyweight contender.
Unfortunately for Ferguson, who has lost three straight official fights, a lack of competition in the flyweight division could lead to his release from the UFC. At best, Ferguson will be waiting quite a while for his next appearance.
Alex Caceres vs. Rafael Assuncao
Alex Caceres and Rafael Assuncao both picked up important wins in their respective fights against Damacio Page and Issei Tamura at UFC on Fuel TV 4. Neither Caceres nor Assuncao are bantamweight contenders yet, but their victories on Wednesday may have been enough to elevate them to the main card.
Let's match Caceres and Assuncao against one another on a Fuel TV or FX-televised main card. With an impressive victory, the winner of this bout would gain more popularity and could even be ready for a fight with a highly-ranked 125-pound fighter.
Anthony Njokuani vs. Dennis Hallman-Thiago Tavares Loser
Anthony Njokuani is known for his striking prowess, but he was inferior to Rafael dos Anjos in all aspects at UFC on Fuel TV 4. The deflating loss leaves Njokuani with five losses in his past eight fights. If he plans on contending in the UFC at some point, Njokuani will need to make some changes, and one of those changes may even include leaving the ultra-competitive lightweight division.
If Njokuani does continue competing at 155 pounds, he'll likely meet another mid-tier opponent coming off of a loss. A bout with the loser of a UFC 150 fight between Dennis Hallman and Thiago Tavares would be logical and would force Njokuani to continue improving his takedown defense and ground game.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Dennis Hallman-Thiago Tavares Winner
In his three-and-a-half years with the UFC, Rafael dos Anjos has not been able to rise to contender status. However, with wins in six of his past eight fights, the Brazilian is finally on the cusp of regularly competing with the world's top lightweights.
Dennis Hallman and Thiago Tavares are also veterans on the rise in the 155-pound division. A victory over the winner of an upcoming bout between those two fighters could earn dos Anjos a big step up in competition when he heads into 2013.
Vaughan Lee vs. Ivan Menjivar
Heading into UFC on Fuel TV 4, Vaughan Lee was riding high after a come-from-behind submission of Norifumi Yamamoto. However, Lee was no match for T.J. Dillashaw, who quickly secured a rear-naked choke against the Englishman on Wednesday night.
Still, with his win over Yamamoto, Lee has built his name up enough that he could meet a fighter like Ivan Menjivar in his next appearance. Menjivar was briefly linked to rumors of a shot at the interim bantamweight title before it was announced that Renan Barao would get that chance against Urijah Faber. Following the news that he wouldn't be replacing an injured Dominick Cruz, Menjivar lost against Mike Easton and will have to climb the 135-pound ladder once again.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Brad Pickett-Yves Jabouin Winner
With dominant wins over Walel Watson and Vaughan Lee, T.J. Dillashaw has shown he has the potential to become a future contender in the bantamweight division. That being said, Dillashaw is still developing and could use some time to continue progressing before his next fight.
After a few months of focusing on improving his striking, let's give Dillashaw the winner of a September bout between Brad Pickett and Yves Jabouin. In preparing for either of those borderline bantamweight contenders, Dillashaw would make major strides in his stand-up game that would benefit him greatly when he makes a run at a title shot later in his career.
Karlos Vemola vs. Nick Catone
A six-time Czech Republic national champion wrestler, Karlos Vemola has the wrestling ability to become a force in the middleweight division, but a submission loss against Francis Carmont at UFC on Fuel TV 4 showed that the massive middleweight has plenty of room to improve in other areas.
Nick Catone, another powerful 185-pound wrestler coming off of a loss, possesses a style that would force Vemola out of his comfort zone. With this matchup, Vemola would hopefully turn more of his focus toward improving the holes in his game rather than depending on his wrestling.
Francis Carmont vs. Court McGee-Nick Ring Winner
With eight consecutive wins, Francis Carmont is beginning to gain notoriety as a potential contender in the middleweight division. While the Frenchman has been impressive as of late, let's not forget he posted a mediocre record of 11-7 through his first 18 fights, so Carmont is not a fighter who should be rushed into a fight with a top 185-pound fighter.
A bout against the winner of a UFC 149 matchup between Court McGee and Nick Ring would make much more sense for Carmont's next fight than hurrying him into a fight with a contender. If Carmont is able to beat either of those competitors convincingly, then it may be safe to begin considering a bigger step up in competition.
Kenny Robertson vs. Brock Jardine
In Aaron Simpson, Kenny Robertson drew a tough matchup for his return to the Octagon. However, Robertson performed well against the former middleweight and probably earned himself another fight or two on MMA's biggest stage.
Still, Robertson will need to take a big step back in competition to avoid a losing streak that could send him packing from the UFC once again. Coming off of a loss to Rick Story in his UFC debut, Brock Jardine could also use a more reasonable opponent for his next appearance. A bout between Robertson and Jardine seems like a real possibility.
Aaron Simpson vs. Demian Maia
For a fighter who was originally scheduled to meet Jon Fitch, Aaron Simpson turned in a somewhat disappointing performance in his welterweight debut against Kenny Robertson. A win is a win, though, and Simpson utilized his wrestling and new-found size advantage to get his hand raised in a unanimous decision.
A bout with another former middleweight in Demian Maia would show Simpson that simply dropping to 170 pounds isn't going to re-energize his career. A world-class jiu-jitsu practitioner, Maia is capable of shutting down wrestlers, which means Simpson would be forced to make drastic improvements in his striking to prepare for this matchup.
Joey Beltran vs. Anthony Perosh-Ryan Jimmo Loser
After a brief release from the UFC, Joey Beltran returned as a light heavyweight at UFC on Fuel TV 4. Against James Te-Huna, Beltran did not look much better technically than he did in his heavyweight appearances, but the Alliance MMA fighter's chin was as solid as it always has been.
For three rounds, Beltran took several shots that would have left most 205-pound fighters sniffing salts, but he survived to hear the judges' scorecards and even shifted momentum in the final minutes of the contest. Still, Beltran's late rally wasn't enough to make up for the beating he had taken earlier in the bout.
Beltran has lost five out of seven fights and is danger of being released from the UFC once again. While entertaining, Beltran isn't going stick with the organization for long unless he can pick up his first UFC win since June 2011. A fight with the loser of a UFC 149 bout between Anthony Perosh and UFC newcomer Ryan Jimmo could be Beltran's final chance to prove himself inside the Octagon.
James Te-Huna vs. Ryan Jimmo-Anthony Perosh Winner
James Te-Huna can't be faulted for being unable to finish Joey Beltran, but the New Zealander's supporters probably would have liked to see him pick his shots more carefully to avoid tiring in the final round like he did.
In his past 10 fights, Te-Huna has only lost to light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson. Now, Te-Huna is nearly deserving of another fight with an opponent of that caliber. If promising UFC newcomer Ryan Jimmo wins impressively against Anthony Perosh, a bout between the Canadian and Te-Huna would likely set the winner up for a huge step up in competition.
Mark Munoz vs. Chael Sonnen
After his loss against Anderson Silva, the UFC has to put some thought into matching Chael Sonnen against other Brazilians like Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva to bank on a proven rivalry. However, Mark Munoz's loss to Chris Weidman at UFC on Fuel TV 4 has opened up another possibility.
Sonnen and Munoz were previously scheduled to meet in a title shot eliminator in January 2012. However, an elbow injury forced Munoz out of that intriguing matchup between the former collegiate wrestling opponents.
The UFC should book this matchup once again. It would immediately put the winner back in contention for a championship fight, and there's no hiding that the organization would love for Sonnen to remain a factor in the middleweight title picture.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
Heading into UFC on Fuel TV 4, some were skeptical that Chris Weidman would be ready for a title shot with a win over Mark Munoz. However, those individuals couldn't have predicted the type of dominant performance Weidman turned in on Wednesday night.
Weidman's striking was always considered his weakest area, but questions regarding his stand-up game ended the moment he blasted Munoz with a stepping elbow. Sonnen has laid the blueprint for beating middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and Weidman has the ideal skill set for carrying that plan out.
A title shot is completely justifiable at this point in Weidman's career. Whether he's the one who will end Silva's reign or not, Weidman asked for this fight and he's going to get it before the end of the year.