UFC on Fox 7 Results: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Benson Henderson took another step toward greatness at UFC on Fox 7 while once again flirting with disaster.
The UFC lightweight champion fought to a narrow decision against Gilbert Melendez in Saturday's main event, defending his belt with a split decision win for the second time in three fights. The final Strikeforce lightweight titleholder, Melendez's long run of success was brought to a halt by the judges' controversial call.
Anytime there is a debatable decision in a championship match, the calls for a rematch are bound to follow.
Let's see if that's what could be next for Henderson and Melendez as we run through the next potential opponents for all the UFC on Fox 7 competitors.
Clifford Starks vs. Jared Hamman
Clifford Starks may be in danger of being released from the UFC roster after a second straight loss at UFC on Fox 7. There are only a handful of middleweights under UFC contract who have lost back-to-back fights, and almost all of them hold more than one UFC win, as Starks does.
If Starks does get another shot inside the Octagon, it will almost certainly come against one of those 185-pound fighters coming off of multiple losses.
A bout with Jared Hamman would give Starks a better chance of utilizing his wrestling than his bout with former Olympic wrestling medalist Yoel Romero.
Hugo Viana vs. Erik Perez-Johnny Bedford Loser
After winning his his initial two bouts inside the Octagon, Hugo Viana suffered his first official UFC loss at UFC on Fox 7.
Viana's wild power punches caused some concern for his opponent early, but T.J. Dillashaw was eventually able to answer with speed and precision, putting the Brazilian away with punches in the final minute of the first stanza.
Though Viana has proven he's a UFC-level bantamweight, he'll need to take a step down in competition. A bout with a less accomplished TUF veteran than Dillashaw could make sense should Johnny Bedford lose to Erik Perez at UFC 159.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Erik Perez-Johnny Bedford Winner
T.J. Dillashaw is now on the verge of becoming a top-10 bantamweight.
With his knockout victory over Hugo Viana at UFC on Fox 7, the Team Alpha Male fighter has won four straight since suffering his only career loss against former flyweight title challenger John Dodson.
Right now, there aren't really many top-10 fighters coming off of wins who are available for Dillashaw to compete against. However, another rising 135-pound fighter on the fringe of becoming a contender will appear at UFC 159.
Should Erik Perez defeat Johnny Bedford next Saturday, a bout between "Goyito" and Dillashaw would prime the winner for a matchup with an elite bantamweight opponent.
Tim Means vs. Yves Edwards
Tim Means suffered his first UFC loss on Saturday, but he hung tough against a proven opponent in former Strikeforce title contender Jorge Masvidal.
He'll eventually have to show improvement in his takedown defense, but Means is most entertaining against opponents willing to strike with him.
A bout with Yves Edwards, who is also coming off of a decision loss, would give Means a chance to showcase his striking once again against a well-known opponent.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Rafael dos Anjos-Evan Dunham Winner
Jorge Masvidal didn't make a huge statement in his UFC debut, but the former Strikeforce title challenger showed he's well-rounded enough to become a contender in the world's top MMA promotion.
Though he wasn't being overwhelmed by Tim Means when standing, Masvidal took advantage of a clear wrestling edge over his opponent and repeatedly took the top position at UFC on Fox 7.
A bout with the winner of an upcoming UFC on FX 8 bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Evan Dunham would put Masvidal in position to campaign for a fight with a top-10 lightweight should he win.
Darren Uyenoyama vs. Ian McCall
Darren Uyenoyama had a solid winning streak brought to an end at UFC on Fox 7, but he's still a top-10 flyweight and will benefit from competing in a still-shallow division.
A matchup with a good wrestler like Joseph Benavidez was bound to give a jiu-jitsu ace like Uyenoyama problems. Hopefully Uyenoyama will learn from the mistakes he made on Saturday, though, as another matchup with a wrestler could be upcoming.
The only other 125-pound UFC fighters coming off of losses at the moment are Ian McCall and John Dodson. Since McCall has lost back-to-back contests, he's more likely than Dodson to take the step down for a fight with Uyenoyama.
Joseph Benavidez vs. John Dodson
Joseph Benavidez has taken the slow road back to a title shot since losing to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, but in a developing division like the 125-pound class is, the Team Alpha Male fighter can only delay a potential rematch with "Mighty Mouse" for so long.
Though they've both lost to Johnson already, Benavidez and John Dodson remain two of the top contenders in the flyweight division.
With John Moraga previously named the next 125-pound title challenger, Benavidez and Dodson should meet within the next few months to determine who should be next in line for a title shot, whether or not that means a rematch with Johnson for either fighter.
Ramsey Nijem vs. Roger Bowling
Ramsey Nijem is a promising fighter at 25 years old, but opponents continue to find holes in his wild, forward-moving striking style.
Like Nijem, UFC newcomer Roger Bowling was caught with a punch while charging toward his opponent at UFC on Fox 7.
While it might not turn into the most technical battle, a bout featuring Nijem and Bowling would surely be entertaining if it stays standing.
Myles Jury vs. Anthony Njokuani
Long and lean lightweights Myles Jury and Anthony Njokuani got the job done with their striking on Saturday, knocking out respective opponents Ramsey Nijem and Roger Bowling in the second round of their bouts.
Both Jury and Njokuani are still a few wins away from generating interest as serious lightweight contenders, but their technical striking makes them fighters to watch.
A bout between the two could result in a great stand-up battle, or it could at least give Njokuani a chance to test his shaky takedown defense against an opponent with underrated wrestling.
Lorenz Larkin vs. Uriah Hall
Lorenz Larkin may have fallen short in his UFC debut against Francis Carmont, but the 26-year-old showed a ton of potential in a debatable decision loss.
Another high-ceiling fighter who recently suffered defeat in his first official UFC bout was TUF runner-up Uriah Hall.
A bout between Larkin and Hall would ensure one talented fighter gets back on track. More importantly, it would almost surely lead to a crazy kickboxing match between two extremely dynamic strikers.
Francis Carmont vs. Yoel Romero
Francis Carmont has won all five of his UFC fights, but he shouldn't expect a step up in competition after a second straight controversial decision victory. Carmont scored an important takedown in the final round of his bout with Lorenz Larkin, but he didn't mount a ton of offense throughout the three-round contest.
Conversely, Yoel Romero made a big splash in his UFC debut by knocking out Clifford Starks with a beautiful flying knee.
There may be some interest in seeing Romero thrust into a bout with a fringe contender, but a matchup with Carmont would provide a perfectly reasonable test against a recognizable opponent.
Darren Elkins vs. Marcus Brimage
Darren Elkins may or may not be capable of becoming a top-10 featherweight, but a bout with a former 145-pound title challenger clearly came too soon for him on Saturday.
Chad Mendes is one of the very best at featherweight, and he steamrolled Elkins at UFC on Fox 7.
Clearly, Elkins needs to take a step back and work his way into fighting elite competition more slowly in his next run at the top. A bout with Marcus Brimage, who is also coming off of a knockout loss, would give Elkins a good chance to bounce back against a solid adversary.
Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida
Chad Mendes has been having some bad luck with opponents getting injured, and now he'd have to get the fight he wants, with champion Jose Aldo not defending his belt against Anthony Pettis until August.
With Mendes having beaten three non-top-10 featherweights since his loss to Aldo, there are also several fighters more likely to get title shots before him.
Clay Guida, Mendes' previously scheduled UFC on Fox 7 opponent, is currently the only top-10 fighter coming off of a win and not booked for another contest. The UFC should re-book that matchup and hope that Mendes' curse of injured opponents is broken.
Jordan Mein vs. Mike Swick
Jordan Mein's climb in the welterweight rankings hit a speed bump at UFC on Fox 7.
After picking up an impressive win over Dan Miller in his UFC debut, Mein was unable to outlast the durable Matt Brown on Saturday.
At 23 years old, Mein is still a serious talent and should get another fight with another well-known UFC veteran. Since Mike Swick is also coming off of a loss to Matt Brown, he would be a logical opponent for Mein.
Matt Brown vs. Tyron Woodley-Jake Shields Winner
Matt Brown is on a roll and closing in on the UFC's top-10 welterweights.
Despite taking some big shots from Jordan Mein at UFC on Fox 7, Brown fought through bad spots and outlasted Jordan Mein with toughness.
With five straight wins, it's time for Brown to get a shot at a 170-pound contender. A bout with the winner of a UFC 161 fight between Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields would give Brown an opportunity to mount his biggest upset yet.
Nate Diaz vs. Gray Maynard-T.J. Grant Loser
Nate Diaz has quickly fallen from the elite ranks of the lightweight division after a second straight loss at UFC on Fox 7.
Though Josh Thomson was willing to stand with him, Diaz had trouble cornering his opponent and ate multiple head kicks before finally being stopped in the second round.
With wins over fighters like Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller, Diaz is still an top-10 lightweight, but he does need to get things turned around soon.
If he remains at 155 pounds, a bout with the loser of a UFC 160 fight between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant could give Diaz a chance to avenge a previous loss to Maynard.
Frank Mir vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Having lost to most of the elite heavyweights and having beaten many of the big names below him, Frank Mir is now in a tough spot.
The former heavyweight champion had trouble dealing with the speed of UFC on Fox 7 opponent Daniel Cormier and wasn't skilled enough in the clinch to take the Olympic wrestler to the ground. As a result, Mir suffered a second straight loss.
While it'd be a big step down in competition, a bout with Gabriel Gonzaga could be interesting for Mir. The two heavyweights are both long-time UFC competitors and are considered two of the most dangerous grapplers in their division.
Daniel Cormier vs. Alistair Overeem
Daniel Cormier remained undefeated on Saturday, but he really wasn't impressive enough in victory to prove himself more deserving of a title shot than the winner of an upcoming heavyweight bout between Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt.
With teammate Cain Velasquez holding the belt, a move to light heavyweight is a possibility for Cormier, but he may decide to see where the road takes him at heavyweight if a title shot isn't guaranteed at 205 pounds.
A fight with Alistair Overeem may seem like a step in the wrong direction for a fighter who has already beaten Antonio Silva on his current winning streak, but Cormier needs a statement-making win inside the Octagon before he can be given a title shot.
Maybe taking on a different style of opponent than Mir will give Cormier the opportunity to better showcase his skills.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson
The UFC backed itself into a corner by announcing at the post-fight press conference that the winner of a UFC 160 bout between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant would be the next lightweight title contender.
With Anthony Pettis committed to the featherweight division for now, Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson are left directly behind the winner of the fight between Maynard and Grant in the line for a shot at the lightweight championship.
A fourth fight between Melendez and Thomson may not be a fight everyone wants to see so soon, but it's the matchup that makes the most sense right now in determining the next title challenger following Maynard or Grant.
Benson Henderson vs. Gray Maynard-T.J. Grant Winner
Benson Henderson picked up another title defense in controversial fashion at UFC on Fox 7. Though he's not been dominating most opponents, Henderson has now matched Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn for the UFC lightweight record for consecutive title defenses.
It initially looked like Gilbert Melendez could be given an immediate rematch due to the narrow decision that followed Saturday's main event, but he will now have to earn another title shot with the UFC deciding to give either Gray Maynard or T.J. Grant the next chance to dethrone Henderson.
Maynard and Grant will meet at UFC 160, and the winner will be given the task of trying to prevent Henderson from picking up a record-breaking fourth straight title defense.