UFC Matchmaking: Whom Should Alan Belcher Meet in His Light Heavyweight Return?

Sean SmithAnalyst IJuly 31, 2013

Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Alan Belcher (blue gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (not pictured) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alan Belcher is looking for a change of scenery following back-to-back losses in the UFC middleweight division.

For better or worse, Belcher has decided to make a move to 205 pounds. Ariel Helwani reported Belcher's decision on Tuesday's edition of Fuel TV's UFC Tonightadding that "The Talent" hopes to return to the Octagon in December.

Belcher has not competed in the light heavyweight division since a submission win over Sean Salmon in May 2007. Entering a very different 205-pound landscape than he saw back then, Belcher has plenty of options for opponents in his light heavyweight return.

Who is the most likely adversary for Belcher, though?

Dan Henderson, Rafael Cavalcante and James Te Huna seem like the most logical options. Like Belcher, all three light heavyweights are coming off losses. Each also has strong followings that would bring attention to Belcher's 205-pound return.

Which one of those three potential opponents Belcher meets would depend on how quickly UFC matchmakers plan on pushing the 29-year-old toward title contention.

A bout with Te Huna would relatively ease Belcher into his new weight class whilst still providing a worthy test. The UFC could easily promote the fight as a bout between two knockout artists despite the fact that Belcher would have the choice of exploiting a significant advantage on the ground.

Henderson would provide a much tougher challenge to Belcher, though the reward for victory would also be significantly higher. By beating Henderson, Belcher would instantly become a contender in the light heavyweight division.

On the other side of the coin, a decisive win over a former middleweight contender like Belcher could get Henderson interested in making one last run in the 185-pound division.

While Henderson and Te Huna would be perfectly acceptable opponents for Belcher at 205 pounds, Cavalcante is the foe Joe Silva should match him up with.

A jiu-jitsu black belt with 11 knockouts, Cavalcante has the right mix of skills to push Belcher in all areas without having him thrown in with the light heavyweight sharks too soon. A matchup between Belcher and Cavalcante could include some technical grappling, but it'd be more likely to produce exciting striking exchanges.

With the exception of a disqualification loss, all Cavalcante's fights have ended in knockouts. So, Knockout of the Night honors would be a strong possibility for the winner of a fight between the Brazilian and Belcher.


Sean Smith is a Featured MMA Columnist for Bleacher Report who has also had work promoted on UFC.com and TheMMACorner.com. Follow on Twitter @SeanSmithMMA.