UFC 155: What's Next for the Winners
It was an interesting card, that UFC 155. Saturday night's 12-fight lineup contained a lot of dull decisions and unfortunate efforts, but was punctuated by some serious action, including a co-main event that might have been the fight of the year.
The evening culminated with Cain Velasquez besting Junior Dos Santos to regain the UFC heavyweight belt. What's next for the new champ, and the night's 11 other winners? How about we do some speculating.
12. John Moraga
Flyweight John Moraga pulled off the best submission of the night with his guillotine chokeout of Chris Cariaso. Never mind that it was the only submission of the night. Never mind that!
Moraga is now 2-0 in the UFC, with one win coming by submission and the other coming by first-round knockout. He's clearly on the ups, and a matchup with someone like Darren Uyenoyama would reflect that.
11. Max Holloway
Max Holloway and his disciplined standup game earned a very close decision win over free-brawling Leonard Garcia.
At 21 years old, Holloway is the UFC's youngest fighter, but he may still be ready for a higher caliber of featherweight. I'd love to see him paired with another up-and-comer like Rony Jason.
10. Todd Duffee
Welcome back, Duffman. That was quite a hammering he put on Phil De Fries Saturday night.
But let's not start escorting him past the velvet rope just yet. A turn in the trenches with fellow striking prodigy Pat Barry could headline a cable card.
9. Myles Jury
Eh, cowabunga, dude? Maybe? I don't know what's going on here.
What I do know is that lightweight Myles Jury pulled off one of the night's least likely wins when he controlled Michael Johnson with takedowns and ground and pound. He's still nowhere near the top of the division, however. Accomplished wrestler Mike Rio would probably put up a better fight on the ground than Johnson.
8. Jamie Varner
If Jamie Varner was scared of Melvin Guillard, as Guillard himself recently intimated, he had a funny way of showing it. Varner didn't exactly light the world on fire, but he controlled Guillard to take a split decision that really shouldn't have been split.
Varner's now 2-1 in this stint with the UFC. What should be next up: an old-fashioned donnybrook with Ross Pearson.
7. Erik Perez
At UFC 155 Erik Perez captured his third Octagon victory and plenty of fans with his personal effervescence and Lucha Libre-inspired ring entrance.
But don't let the charm get in the way of his brutalizing of Byron Bloodworth. The win makes Perez 3-0 in the UFC and should shoot him up the ranks in the thin bantamweight division. I'd give him Johnny Bedford next. The winner is a contender.
6. Eddie Wineland
Eddie Wineland looked terrific against Brad Pickett. He had faster feet, faster hands and a faster head as he beat Pickett to the punch time and again. The former WEC champ is now a made man in the UFC bantamweight title picture.
I'd put him against Raphael Assuncao next; winner gets in line behind Michael McDonald for the next shot at the belt.
5. Derek Brunson
Derek Brunson wasn't overly impressive in his UFC debut, as he held down a less-than-optimized Chris Leben en route to a decision win.
Still, the Strikeforce vet will surely take the win, which keeps him in the Octagon even if it doesn't exactly queue him up for Anderson Silva. Andrew Craig might make sense, though.
4. Yushin Okami
I didn't think there was any way Yushin Okami overcame the multifaceted tools of Alan Belcher. I see now that I was incorrect in that thinking.
As the UFC 155 broadcasters noted, it's hard to know what to do with Okami. He lost to Anderson Silva (convincingly) and Tim Boetsch. But he appears to be more than a gatekeeper. Maybe Cung Le could join him there in no-man's-land.
3. Costa Philippou
Hector Lombard. That's all I've got to say.
2. Jim Miller
It can't be said enough times: what a fight. What a freaking fight.
Jim Miller had a setback against Nathan Diaz, but showed with his goring of Joe Lauzon that he's still plenty ready for prime time in the lightweight division.
The UFC can't and probably won't bury such a talented and exciting fighter. Mains and co-mains are where he belongs. I'd give him the guy he replaced Saturday night: Mr. Gray Maynard. Assuming Maynard can get healthy, that is.
1. Cain Velasquez
Just pure greatness from Cain Velasquez Saturday night in his dismantling of formerly un-dismantle-able champ Junior dos Santos. The two-time heavyweight champ appears poised for a great run at the top.
If Alistair Overeem gets past a tough Antonio Silva at UFC 156 in February, he'll be in the other corner for the first defense of Cain's second title run.