Saturday’s UFC 164 pay-per-view was one of the best of 2013 and featured several marquee stars getting monumental victories.
Now the talk shifts to where each of the biggest winners goes moving forward.
All of the following fighters walked away from Saturday’s event with incredible momentum, and this is who each should square off against next.
While Anthony Pettis immediately called out featherweight champion Jose Aldo after beating Benson Henderson and winning the lightweight championship, per Maggie Hendricks of Yahoo! Sports, there are more realistic choices for a next opponent.
A superfight with Aldo would be a huge sell for the UFC, but each is more valuable strengthening their respective divisions. An eventual rematch with Henderson would also be amazing, but the lightweight class is deep enough to make some entertaining fights right now.
The best possible fight would be Pettis vs. TJ Grant.
The severity of Pettis’ knee injury has any potential fight on hold for now, per UFC, but Grant had a title shot against Henderson before getting injured. If Grant is fully recovered from his concussion, the No. 1 contender should be Pettis’ first title defense.
Josh Barnett is one of the most underrated fighters in the history of the heavyweight division, and he has proved how talented he still is even at almost 36 years old by beating Frank Mir via TKO following a vicious knee.
The veteran fighter worked for the UFC in the early 2000s, but had become a force in both Pride and Strikeforce. While he won the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2002 from Randy Couture, he was stripped of the title and left the company.
Now that he is back and fighting strong, everyone wants to know what’s next.
The perfect match for Barnett’s next fight would be Fabrício Werdum. The Brazilian star also fought for Pride and Strikeforce and is looking to catapult himself into the championship scene. With both men fighting for the same cause, this would be an amazing co-main event.
There are few fighters as pound-for-pound tough as Chad Mendes, and the veteran proved his worth once again by destroying Clay Guida with a TKO in the third round and earning Knockout of the Night honors.
With four victories in a row since losing to Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship, it’s now time for Dana White and the UFC matchmakers to give Mendes the title shot he deserves.
Aldo is recovering from a broken foot that will likely keep him out though the rest of 2013, per MMA Weekly, but Mendes deserves another shot at the title. As soon as the current champion is cleared to start working out, this bout must be booked.
Mendes won’t mind the extra downtime if it leads to a championship opportunity.