UFC on Fuel TV 7 Results: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Renan Barao successfully defended his interim bantamweight title at UFC on Fuel TV 7, submitting Michael McDonald in the championship rounds.
Now, Barao may finally get to meet fellow UFC bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz, who has been recovering from a knee injury for more than one year.
While Barao's future may be decided, the rest of the UFC on Fuel TV 7 competitors are left to ponder what could be next. Let's take a look at who those fighters could be competing against in their next outings.
Ulysses Gomez vs. Chris Cariaso
Ulysses Gomez came up short in a rough decision loss to Phil Harris at UFC on Fuel TV 7 and is now without a win in his first two UFC bouts.
Despite his early lack of success in the world's top MMA organization, Gomez is one of the better 125-pound fighters in the world. It would be nice to see the UFC add some depth to the flyweight division so Gomez can show that, but no signings have been announced recently.
If no new fighters join the flyweight division soon, Chris Cariaso may be the most realistic opponent for Gomez.
Phil Harris vs. Tim Elliott
With his decision win over Ulysses Gomez, Phil Harris tasted victory inside the Octagon for the first time in his career.
Unless a significant name is added to the 125-pound roster, Harris' next opponent should be Tim Elliott, who is also coming off of his first UFC win.
Motonobu Tezuka vs. Dustin Pague
A decision loss to Vaughan Lee at UFC on Fuel TV 7 leaves Motonobu Tezuka with losses in his first two UFC bouts.
In all likelihood, Tezuka will get one more chance to pick up a victory, considering Lee and Alex Caceres were tough opponents for the Japanese bantamweight.
Dustin Pague is also coming off of back-to-back decision defeats, so a loser-leaves-town bout between Tezuka and Pague could be next.
Vaughan Lee vs. Alex Caceres-Kyung Ho Kang Winner
After losing to T.J. Dillashaw in his previous outing, Vaughan Lee bounced back with a decision victory over Motonobu Tezuka in his home country of England.
Moving forward, a bout between Lee and Alex Caceres would make sense should Caceres defeat Kyung Ho Kang at UFC on Fuel TV 8. Caceres also picked up a decision win over Tezuka in his most recent appearance.
Stanislav Nedkov vs. Daniel Sarafian
Stanislav Nedkov's middleweight debut did not go as planned, but he did have some bright spots in his fight against Tom Watson that should lead to him deciding to remain at 185 pounds.
A bout with another slugger who is still looking for his first middleweight victory inside the Octagon would be ideal, so the UFC should consider matching Nedkov with The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil standout, Daniel Sarafian.
Tom Watson vs. Rafael Natal
Tom Watson had a scare near the end of the first round of his bout with Stanislav Nedkov. Outside of that, though, the Englishman looked great in front of his home crowd.
With his first UFC victory out of the way, Watson can now set his sights on climbing the middleweight ranks. A bout against Rafael Natal, who also rebounded from a loss in his latest fight, would give Watson a chance to do that.
Andy Ogle vs. Max Holloway
Andy Ogle was able to turn it up in the later rounds to pick up his first UFC win in a bout against Josh Grispi, who has now lost four straight fights.
Grispi was once considered a top contender in the featherweight division, but he's fallen rapidly and could now be looking at fighting outside the Octagon.
Since Max Holloway beat Leonard Garcia controversially in his last bout, a step back in competition could be in order, and Andy Ogle may be able to benefit from that with a chance to compete against a highly touted prospect.
Paul Sass vs. George Sotiropoulos
Paul Sass looked for submission attempt after submission attempt off of his back, but that wasn't enough against another high-level grappler in Danny Castillo.
There's no doubt that Sass is fun to watch on the ground, so it'd be intriguing to see the Englishman face off against a grappler of equal skill who can go submission for submission with him.
Having been knocked out in consecutive fights, George Sotiropoulos could use a matchup with a grappler, and a fight with Sass would be a good one.
Danny Castillo vs. Bobby Green
Danny Castillo was impressive in victory against Paul Sass, taking the dangerous submission specialist to the ground and escaping multiple submission attempts before working his ground-and-pound.
With wins in four of his past five fights, Castillo is on the verge of breaking through in the lightweight division. A win over Bobby Green, who recently defeated Jacob Volkmann, would move Castillo one big step closer to the top of the 155-pound weight class.
Terry Etim vs. Michael Chiesa-Anton Kuivanen Loser
After being overwhelmed by the aggression of Renee Forte, Terry Etim has lost three of his past four fights. As a result, he'll likely meet another low-ranked lightweight in his next bout.
The loser of a UFC 157 bout between The Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa and Anton Kuivanen would make for an equally matched opponent against Etim.
Renee Forte vs. Michael Chiesa-Anton Kuivanen Winner
Renee Forte likely salvaged his UFC career by beating Terry Etim at UFC on Fuel TV 7.
Now, the Brazilian can try to prove he deserves a long-term spot on the UFC's lightweight roster, and a bout with another TUF alum like Michael Chiesa would give him a chance to gain some more attention.
The matchup would also test Forte's takedown defense, which failed him in his UFC debut against Sergio Moraes.
Jorge Santiago vs. Che Mills
In their respective bouts against Gunnar Nelson and Matthew Riddle, Jorge Santiago and Che Mills were unable to remain standing. Their lacking, takedown defense ultimately led to decision losses.
Though they've had trouble putting together a run of success inside the Octagon, Santiago and Mills have displayed great skill against non-UFC opponents.
By matching them up against one another, Santiago and Mills will have a chance to pick up a signature win that could springboard their UFC careers.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Matthew Riddle
Gunnar Nelson wasn't overly spectacular in his victory at UFC on Fuel TV 7, but his win over Jorge Santiago put the Iceland native one step closer to reaching his potential.
While some might want to see Nelson tested against an elite opponent, there's no reason to rush the 24-year-old along.
Instead, a bout with a UFC veteran like Matthew Riddle, who deserves a big fight with the run he has been on, would make more sense right now.
Cyrille Diabate vs. Ryan Jimmo
Ryan Jimmo faded after a strong start against James Te-Huna on Saturday. Meanwhile, Cyrille Diabate was unable to handle the raw athleticism of Jimi Manuwa and ended up suffering an injury in trying to defend himself.
Despite their losses, Diabate and Jimmo are solid light heavyweights who should have a long-term home inside the Octagon.
A bout between the two, 205-pound competitors would assure that one gets back on track quickly.
Jimi Manuwa vs. James Te-Huna
James Te-Huna survived an early scare to keep his impressive winning streak going with a decision victory over Ryan Jimmo at UFC on Fuel TV 7.
While Te-Huna has taken a bit longer to build himself up, Jimi Manuwa has made an impact quickly on the UFC's light heavyweight division.
The thunderous strikers should meet as soon as possible with a big step up in competition on the line.
Dustin Poirier vs. Erik Koch
Dustin Poirier suffered another setback on Saturday, losing an entertaining bout against Cub Swanson.
However, the young featherweight will inevitably break though and challenge for a title someday. The time just isn't now.
A bout with Koch, who has also been on the verge of earning a title shot only to have it slip away, could be next for Poirier.
Cub Swanson vs. Chad Mendes-Clay Guida Winner
Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung weren't the only featherweights impacted by Anthony Pettis' move to 145 pounds. Had Lamas been given the title shot against Jose Aldo instead of Pettis, Cub Swanson probably could have found himself in a title shot eliminator against Jung.
Instead, Swanson is probably still a couple wins away from earning a spot in a championship bout.
A bout that could help move him toward that end would be one against the winner of a UFC on Fox 7 scrap between Chad Mendes and Clay Guida. That potential fight would also truly test Swanson's wrestling for the first time since he lost to Lamas and Mendes.
Michael McDonald vs. Urijah Faber-Ivan Menjivar Winner
Michael McDonald wasn't quite ready for Renan Barao following a nine-month absence, but Saturday night marked the first of what is sure to be many championship fight appearances for the youthful bantamweight contender.
Now that he's been in deep waters, McDonald should keep on swimming with the big fish in the 135-pound pond. A bout with Urijah Faber, should "The California Kid" beat Ivan Menjivar at UFC 157, could even determine the next top contender.
Renan Barao vs. Dominick Cruz
Renan Barao became the first interim champion to defend a UFC interim belt in quite some time by beating Michael McDonald at UFC on Fuel TV 7.
Now, though, Barao can re-focus on dethroning another UFC titleholder, Dominick Cruz. Cruz has been out due to injury for a long period of time, but he should be next for Barao, barring any unfortunate setbacks.