The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale Results: Matchmaking for the Entire Fight Card
Roy Nelson didn't have the chance to compete against opposing coach Shane Carwin at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale, but he did impress in a first-round knockout win over Matt Mitrione.
Though he can't be considered a serious contender anytime soon after being dominated by a number of the UFC's top heavyweights, Nelson is one of the better fighters in that division and deserves to have another fight booked with a more seasoned veteran.
The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale also featured the welterweight final of the reality show, with Colton Smith controlling Mike Ricci on the ground to claim the crown.
From the big winners like Nelson and Smith to those who disappointed on Saturday, let's take a look at who should be next for all The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale competitors.
Tim Elliott vs. John Lineker
Tim Elliott's win at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale will likely send Jared Papazian packing from the UFC ranks. I know the organization is still building the flyweight division, but Papazian has now lost four straight, and he's not the type of wildly popular fighter who the UFC gives numerous chances to.
Conversely, Elliott looks to have a bright future with the world's premier MMA organization. The 25-year-old has only lost to top contender John Dodson in his past 10 fights and entertains every time he steps into the cage.
Since both fighters won their second UFC bout after losing in their Octagon debuts, a matchup between Elliott and John Lineker would make sense.
T.J. Waldburger vs. Matt Brown
Anyone who goes to the ground with T.J. Waldburger is looking for trouble. That was only display at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale, where Waldburger choked Nick Catone unconscious.
Dan Hardy wants his next fight to be against Matt Brown (via MMAJunkie.com), who is coming off a win on network television. However, there are some other matchups out there for the Englishman that might make more sense.
Instead of Hardy, the scrappy Brown should serve as a test for Waldburger, who is on the verge of breaking through in the welterweight division. In need of a win over a proven veteran, Waldburger could make a statement against Brown.
Rustam Khabilov vs. Mike Rio
Any time a UFC newcomer wins in particularly impressive fashion, we tend to overreact in measuring his potential.
However, it's unlikely that's the case with Rustam Khabilov. He has a solid background in Sambo to show his suplex knockout of Vinc Pichel was no fluke.
Mike Rio also used his grappling to pick up his first UFC win at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale. The wrestler was able to submit John Cofer in the third round of a competitive bout.
While Khabilov was more dominant on Saturday, a bout between these grapplers would still give both men a good test to see who is deserving of a step up in competition.
Marcos Vinicius vs. Reuben Duran
Marcos Vinicius and Reuben Duran both had some serious holes in their striking at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale and were knocked out in their respective bouts against Johnny Bedford and Hugo Viana.
Both bantamweights now sporting a 1-1 record, it seems like an easy decision to book Vinicius and Duran for a fight against one another once they serve their mandatory suspensions.
Johnny Bedford vs. Hugo Viana
Just as the timing should work out for a fight between their The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale opponents, Johnny Bedford and Hugo Viana will probably be ready to get themselves back into the Octagon in relatively short order.
Both Bedford and Viana have now won their first two fights since joining the UFC roster, so a bout between them would likely earn the winner a noticeable step up in competition.
James Head vs. Nick Catone
James Head and Nick Catone both got off to strong starts in their respective fights against Mike Pyle and T.J. Waldburger on Saturday, but it wasn't enough for them to avoid being caught and finished.
Despite their losses, Head and Catone are capable of beating a lot of welterweights on the UFC's roster.
If matched up against one another, the winner of a bout between Head and Catone would be deserving of another shot at a fringe contender like Pyle and Waldburger.
Mike Pyle vs. Kyle Noke
The 37-year-old Mike Pyle is fighting better than he has in his entire career. The veteran has won six of his past seven fights, with his only loss during that time coming against the highly ranked Rory MacDonald.
It's unlikely Pyle will ever become a top contender in the welterweight division, but he's slowly climbing toward the Top 10. A fight with Kyle Noke, who stopped Charlie Brenneman in his most recent fight, would give Pyle the chance to earn another fight with an elite 170-pound fighter.
Jonathan Brookins vs. Daniel Pineda
Jonathan Brookins has had trouble gathering momentum since winning The Ultimate Fighter. On Saturday, he ran into a very tough matchup against Dustin Poirier and was forced to tap near the end of the opening round.
At 27 years old, Brookins still has plenty of fighting years left in him. He'll need to get things turned around quickly in order to become a contender anytime soon, though.
Fellow 27-year-old Daniel Pineda is also on a skid after a strong start to his UFC career. A bout between Brookins and Pineda would ensure one featherweight prospect gets back on track.
Dustin Poirier vs. Chad Mendes
His win over Jonathan Brookins at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale wasn't flawless, but Dustin Poirier showed he's still a top featherweight by submitting his opponent near the end of the first round.
Poirier may not be quite deserving of another fight with a Top-5 featherweight, but he makes sense as an opponent for Chad Mendes in the former title challenger's progression back toward elite competition.
The well-rounded Poirier has the ability to test Mendes when standing and is active enough off of his back to make things interesting should he get taken down.
Pat Barry vs. Cheick Kongo II
No matter his opponent, Pat Barry always presses forward and trades. After a tough first round, that approach eventually led to a devastating knockout of Shane del Rosario.
After some lackluster wins, Cheick Kongo is in need of an opponent who will bring the fight to him.
We already know Barry can do that, as the two competed in one of the most back-and-forth rounds in MMA history at UFC Live on Versus 4.
Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher
Before competing on The Ultimate Fighter 16, Mike Ricci fought in the lightweight division, so there's a good chance he'll return to that weight class in his next outing.
Following UFC on FX 6, I proposed the loser of Saturday's bout between Colton Smith and Mike Ricci should get a fight with Brad Scott, the welterweight runner-up of The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes.
However, should Ricci make the move to 155 pounds, he should meet the lightweight runner-up of that season, Colin Fletcher. For Scott, that could mean a fight with the likes of a welterweight like Brock Jardine or Kenny Robertson.
Colton Smith vs. Norman Parke
Like Mike Ricci, it also appears as though Colton Smith will move to lightweight (via MMAJunkie.com) following his efforts in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 16.
Previously, I had said a win over Ricci should mean a bout with The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes welterweight winner Robert Whittaker for Smith. Though, assuming he does drop down a division, Smith should meet the lightweight winner of that season.
A bout with Norman Parke could force Smith to utilize more of his striking. Against Ricci, Smith repeatedly took the fight to the ground and kept it there, but Parke is a grappler potentially capable of shutting down the TUF 16 winner.
Matt Mitrione vs. Shane del Rosario
Matt Mitrione is still relying on his athleticism to find success against top competition. Facing a much more experienced foe in Roy Nelson, athleticism wasn't enough.
The former NFL player has had most of his success when standing, so he was forced into a one-dimensional game plan against the well-rounded Nelson.
Against a top-notch striker like Shane del Rosario, Mitrione would almost have to utilize his grappling to win, and training for that could help take his overall game to another level.
Roy Nelson vs. Ben Rothwell-Gabriel Gonzaga Winner
In spite of his physique, Roy Nelson has proven to be one of the best heavyweights in the world. On Saturday, Nelson showed athleticism alone can not best him, as he put Matt Mitrione away in the opening round.
Though he's one of the top fighters in his weight class, many of the elite heavyweights are either locked into other fights or have beaten Nelson decisively not too long ago.
Ben Rothwell is one of the four UFC heavyweights who hold a win over Nelson, but many now consider Rothwell to sit below "Big Country" in the rankings. Should he beat Gabriel Gonzaga in January, Rothwell should be given a chance to prove he's still better than Nelson, while Nelson would probably love to avenge that controversial loss from his IFL days.