Saturday night’s UFC 161 pay-per-view wasn’t the most exciting event in the company’s history, but the results have yielded big winners that have a very bright future in the sport.
All of the following stars were victorious in their fights and will look to be bumped into the upper echelon of title contenders by UFC officials in their next bout.
Expect huge things from everyone on this list moving forward.
Rashad Evans Needs One More Victory
After a tough decision win over MMA legend Dan Henderson in the main event of the evening, the questions surrounding former champion Rashad Evans' future and his quest to make it back to the top of the light heavyweight division are the talk of the UFC.
Evans avenged his loss to champion Jon Jones and the subsequent defeat against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but he must fight another top contender and come out victorious once again before he is considered for a title shot.
The ideal fight would be a title eliminator against the winner of the Phil Davis vs. Lyoto Machida bout this August. Evans has a history with both men, and a rivalry could be built no matter which fighter wins at UFC 163.
Evans’ ascension back to the top of the division has begun.
Shawn Jordan Needs Redemption
After learning from a tough loss to Cheick Kongo in 2012, Shawn Jordan recommitted himself to MMA and destroyed UFC veteran Pat Barry with a first-round knockout that proved the former LSU fullback is a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division.
While many fans will want a big fight for Jordan next, the smartest possible matchup for the 28-year-old would be a out against a seasoned veteran like Frank Mir.
While Mir is expected to fight in August, if Jordan wants to climb the heavyweight divisional ladder, he will wait for a potential fight with Mir and prove his worth to the company by going head-to-head with one of the division's top gatekeepers.
Stipe Miocic Needs Another Marquee Fight
Heavyweight contender and fan favorite Roy Nelson was supposed to roll through his challenger at UFC 161 and continue his ascent to the top of the division, but Stipe Miocic never got that memo and abused the big man throughout his decision victory.
Now that Nelson is out of the title hunt for the time being, the focus has shifted to Miocic and which fighter the UFC will line up for the heavyweight’s next bout. After avenging his loss to Stefan Struve by beating Nelson, the next fight is the most important of his career.
Dana White and company officials have to give Miocic immense credit for stifling one of the toughest men in the sport, and rewarding him with a big fight against the loser of the reported Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne bout this August, per MMA Junkie, is the smart move.