Fighting in front of his hometown crowd Saturday night in Chicago, Ricardo Lamas made a convincing and violent statement in the UFC's 145-pound class, demolishing Erik Koch, who had only previously been beaten once in his MMA career. Lamas looked like an absolute man possessed.
With that in mind, here are some options for his next time out.
In terms of a featherweight title eliminator, Poirier's bout with Cub Swanson is about as notable as any fight booked at 145 pounds in the UFC right now. It was initially to be Dennis Siver and Swanson, two guys with even more claim to a title shot with a win, but Siver had to drop out with an injury.
Whoever comes out on top of this FUEL TV tilt will be no more than a fight away from a shot at gold. Given that the same argument presently applies to Lamas, who beat Swanson a littler over a year ago, slotting him in against Porier, if he also beats Swanson, makes a lot of sense.
If something happens to the winner of the Poirier-Swanson scrap, there's a lot to be said for simply matching Lamas with Siver when he's healthy. The two would be an interesting pairing, as Lamas and his ruthless ground-and-pound would match up with the Russian-born German's formidable standup attack.
The top three guys at 145 pounds in line for a title shot right now are probably Lamas, Swanson and Siver, so why not set up a combination to eliminate one or two of those names?
More so than anyone in the division, The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, might take exception to that prior slide. Jung has been bandied about as a potential challenger to Jose Aldo for nearly a year now, and while Lamas, Swanson and Siver have all moved up the ranks while he's been hurt, he's probably still at the front of the line.
With the Zombie set to return in the spring and Lamas probably looking for a dance partner around that time, a true title eliminator between them makes a lot of sense.
Elkins, to put it mildly, has been on a tear since joining the UFC. He's 6-1 in the promotion and hasn't lost since 2010, a run which includes four straight wins at featherweight.
The biggest issue for Elkins may be marketability, as the quality of his competition hasn't been top flight and he hasn't been putting them away. Still, this is a nasty individual who's hotter than anyone in the weight class right now and actually has a long-ago win over Pat Curran, who many feel is the second-best 145er in the world.
Matching him with Lamas could work for both guys.
Realistically, what else does Lamas have to do to earn a title shot? He's never lost at 145 pounds, presently riding a four-fight win streak over some stellar competition. He finishes guys with true ruthlessness, and his fights are starting to draw attention from the MMA community.
Truthfully, he's not going to get more seasoned with another fight or two. That's a process that takes years, and he's already punched time improving substantially in the past couple.
No one has a more concrete claim to a title shot right now, so give the man his chance.