UFC 152: 6 Fights to Make After Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort
UFC 152 is in the books. It was filled with plenty of drama and chock full of action, from the opening of the preliminary card all the way to the main event.
What's next for the fighters of UFC 152? It's time to wipe the dust off the old crystal ball and take a look.
Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson
Well, we've finally seen Jon Jones look something other than completely immortal, if only for a brief few seconds in the first round when Vitor Belfort nearly pulled off the most incredible upset in UFC history.
But the armbar-that-nearly-was didn't actually happen. Jones prevailed and is free to continue his path of destruction in the UFC's light heavyweight division. So what's next?
I touched on this briefly in my post-fight video that was filmed in Toronto, but I think it all depends on when Dan Henderson recovers from his knee injury. If Henderson is ready to go within a few months—and assuming the arm injury suffered by Jones doesn't keep him on the shelf for an extended period of time—I think a bout between the pair makes the most sense.
After all, we were supposed to see the fight happen once already, and you know how that turned out. It's still a fight fans are interested in, even if it may seem like Henderson has very little chance of actually winning. But, as Belfort briefly proved, Jones is human. Could the aging legend be the first guy to legitimately beat the champion?
I had a brief, less-than-civil conversation with Bisping last Tuesday night in our Toronto hotel, essentially about negative stories that have been written about him in the past. But you won't ever hear those negative stories coming from me, because I firmly believe that Bisping is the most deserving title contender in the middleweight division.
Bisping is 9-3 since moving to the middleweight division in 2008. That's not the most perfect record in the world, but compare it to other recent title challengers. Chael Sonnen was 6-3 in the same time frame when he challenged Silva a second time this summer. Vitor Belfort was 3-1 when he got his title shot. Yushin Okami was 4-1.
And none of this even touches on the absolute fact that Bisping has been in the UFC for a very long time without receiving a title shot, and he's also one of the most marketable stars on the roster.
No matter what you may think about Bisping as a person—and your notions are probably incorrect, anyway—there's no doubt that his dominant win over Stann should earn him a title shot. Unfortunately, he may get lost in the shuffle due to a potential Silva superfight with Georges St-Pierre. If that mega-fight doesn't happen, then Bisping deserves his opportunity.
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson/Jussier da Silva
This one is pretty much set in stone. The first-ever UFC flyweight champion will most likely face the winner of the Dodson/Da Silva bout that takes place at the UFC on FX card on October 5. Either one of those guys would be a deserving contender, and Dodson also brings some marketability into that potential fight because of his days on The Ultimate Fighter.
Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva
I'm assuming that Belfort will lose the instant muscle he put on for the Jones fight and make the move back down to middleweight. He was supposed to face Wanderlei Silva earlier this year, and it's still a fight that makes a lot of sense, even if it makes me terrified for Silva's health.
Both guys are coming off losses, and it's a marketable fight, especially if the UFC is planning an early 2013 return to Brazil.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
The UFC's flyweight division is pretty thin on stars at the top. Benavidez and McCall have been heavily featured on television and pay-per-view this year, and they're both coming off losses. The winner would be ready for a rematch with Johnson, because let's face it: Who else is there?
Benavidez came up short against Johnson (and I swear, that wasn't supposed to be a pun), but he's proven time and again that he's one of the best lighter-weight fighters in the world. And McCall has gone through a rough patch lately, but he remains one of the most entertaining and marketable guys in the new division.
Cub Swanson vs. Chan Sung Jung
Remember back when Cub Swanson lost to Jose Aldo? This is a completely different fighter.
Swanson has really come into his own in the UFC, putting together three consecutive wins, over George Roop, Ross Pearson and Charles Oliveira. Those are all very tough opponents, and Swanson finished them in dramatic style.
Swanson told me after his fight on Saturday night that he wants to prove the quick loss to Aldo was a fluke. While I don't think it was a fluke, I don't think a second fight would go the same way, or end nearly as quickly, at least.
But Aldo will most likely be tied up in a bout with Frankie Edgar when he's ready to return, and that leaves Swanson needing another opponent. Chan Sung Jung, "The Korean Zombie," makes perfect sense. Jung is also on a roll of his own and is considered a legitimate contender, so why not pair him up with Swanson and give the winner a title shot?
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