UFC on Fuel 8: 6 Fights to Make After Silva vs. Stann
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The UFC returned to Fuel TV with one of the more stacked free cable cards since the promotion began a television deal with Fox just over a year ago.
"UFC on Fuel TV 8: Silva vs. Stann" also marked the promotion's return to Japan and the Saitama Super Arena, the major home of Wanderlei Silva's greatest run as a PRIDE fighting legend. It's one of the Japanese venues where he made his name and became the man that many consider to be one of the most terrifying fighters of all time.
And then Silva went and added another amazing Japan moment to his resume when he knocked out Brian Stann in an instant-classic main event.
Not only that, but Mark Hunt dropped the hammer on Stefan Struve and picked up his fourth consecutive win in the UFC.
With the event now in the books, let's fire up my crotchety old crystal ball and take a look at what might be next for each of the winners from the Fuel-televised main card.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Robbie Lawler
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Don't look now, but Dong Hyun Kim is now 17-2. And yet, he's somehow not ranked in the top 10 of the official UFC rankings.
That might change after his dominant win over Siyar Bahadurzada. It wasn't the prettiest fight to watch—at least not until the third round, when Kim used Donkey Kong punches and a little bit of showmanship to please a crowd that was on the verge of falling asleep—but it was smart and it was a win over a fighter who many pegged as a future contender.
I'd like to see Kim face a top-10 fighter in his next bout, and that's why I'd like to see him paired up with Robbie Lawler, who made a victorious return to the UFC with a TKO win over Josh Koscheck at UFC 157. Lawler would be forced to deal with Kim's smothering takedowns and top control game, but he also has those rock-solid fists that can help him finish a fight at a moment's notice.
Rani Yahya vs. Nik Lentz
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What was billed as an interesting stylistic matchup turned out to be two rounds of domination from Rani Yahya, followed by a third round where he struggled to avoid a comeback from Mizuto Hirota.
For his next bout, Yahya should face Nik Lentz. Lentz is ranked No. 8 in the official UFC rankings, so it's a decent step up in competition, at least in terms of rankings. In reality, Yahya is one of those guys that has never lived up to his potential, but there's no harm in seeing what he can do against a top-10 guy.
Lentz has looked great since dropping to featherweight, and scored a win over Diego Nunes (and sent him packing from the organization) in January. It's a solid matchup and a decent test for both Yahya and Lentz.
Yushin Okami vs. Winner of Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold
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Don't look now, but fourth-ranked Yushin Okami has a three-fight winning streak going, with the last two coming over Alan Belcher and now Hector Lombard.
Okami did exactly what I expected him to do against Lombard—get the fight to the ground and use his wrestling to stifle Lombard on the canvas. Okami weathered a desperate Lombard storm in the third round to come out on top with a split decision.
Okami's already faced many of the top middleweight contenders, and the ones he hasn't faced are already booked up. That's why he'll have to wait to find out who he faces next, and I think the winner of the Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold bout on May 18 makes sense. Both Belfort and Rockhold need two wins to get into the cage with Anderson Silva, and the same can be said for Okami.
Diego Sanchez vs. Jamie Varner
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That was interesting.
I'm not going to say that Diego Sanchez beating Takanori Gomi by split decision was the worst decision of all time, because it most certainly was not. I had a feeling going into Bruce Buffer's announcement that we could be in for some interesting scorecards, because I felt like it was close enough that it could go either way with the terrible judges that inhabit MMA these days.
But still, I felt like Gomi did enough to earn the win, as did most of my media compatriots. But that wasn't the case, and Sanchez was handed the win.
I wasn't impressed by Sanchez, but I still feel like he needs to advance up a little bit. Pair him up with Jamie Varner, who currently has nothing written on his dance card, and let the dust settle where it will.
Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson
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That was weird, right?
For two-and-a-half rounds, Stefan Struve gave Mark Hunt every opportunity he could to stay in the fight. Even on the ground, where Struve should've had a marked advantage, he allowed Hunt to escape, reverse and pass his guard consistently. He allowed him to stay in the fight, and Hunt took advantage in the third round by knocking out an exhausted Struve, walking away like he always does, and then casually waiting until the ref stopped the fight.
So what's next for Hunt? It has to be Roy Nelson. Hunt moves into the top 10 with his fourth straight UFC win, and while Nelson is currently scheduled to face Cheick Kongo at UFC 159, I don't really care. I'd rather see this fight.
So, yeah. Roy Nelson vs. Mark Hunt in a slugfest between two guys with granite chins. Let's do it.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Mauricio Rua
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UFC on Fuel 8 started out slow. It stayed slow throughout most of the night. But then Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve put together an intriguing fight in the co-main event to kick up the excitement level a few notches.
But nothing from this event will be remembered like Wanderlei Silva's shocking TKO win over Brian Stann in the main event. In a fight that featured a first round that was as good as any single round you'll ever see, Silva overcame the odds and made the people who doubted him—and I'll include myself in that list—look completely foolish.
What a fight, what a win and what a moment.
I have no idea what's next for Wanderlei Silva. If he decides to stick around, I'd like to see him face Mauricio Rua in a battle of former Chute Boxe teammates. I don't know if they'd even be interested in fighting each other, but I'd sure like to see it.