Henderson vs. Pettis 2: What's Next for the UFC 164 Winners
UFC 164 was headlined by one of the most anticipated rematches in recent memory as Benson Henderson looked to defend his title against the last man to defeat him, Anthony Pettis.
Henderson would be unsuccessful in his title defense as Milwaukee celebrated with their hometown hero. The end came quickly as Pettis slapped on a slick armbar from the bottom and secured a verbal tap out from Henderson.
In the evening’s co-main event, two of MMA’s best grapplers faced one another as Frank Mir took on a returning Josh Barnett. Fans were eagerly anticipating some grappling scrambles, but instead saw Barnett take home a TKO victory following some excellent clinch work.
The rest of the evening’s card was also filled with great action, and UFC 164 could go down as one of the best events of 2013. Looking forward, the winners of UFC 164 will have a tough task ahead of them if they hope to top their work from Milwaukee.
Now that, ladies and gentleman, is how to kick off a pay-per-view.
Erik Koch and Dustin Poirier are two of the most exciting fighters in the featherweight division, and, at UFC 164, both men put on a good scrap to kick off the main card. Poirier dropped Koch early but nearly fell straight into a triangle.
Poirier admitted in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that the triangle was very tight.
"The Diamond" fought through the initial adversity to control much of the action for the remaining two rounds. Koch didn’t have an answer for Poirier’s attack, but still came very close to finishing the fight in the final seconds.
Poirier has become a very good fighter, and trains with a good camp at American Top Team. I wouldn’t mind seeing him against the winner of Nik Lentz vs. Dennis Bermudez. Darren Elkins also recently picked up a big win, and is looking for a big name opponent.
This one seems pretty easy as Ben Rothwell called out Travis Browne in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
The problem with that is Browne is too far up in the rankings to face a guy like Rothwell. The Wisconsin native has turned his career around after rededicating himself to the sport, and it’s shown in his last few outings.
Facing Matt Mitrione—if he can get past Brendan Schaub—makes sense or perhaps Stipe Miocic if the UFC doesn't want him to face a big name after his performance against Roy Nelson.
Another one that would seem easy.
Chad Mendes has reeled off four-straight knockout victories, with three of them in the first round. That wasn’t a trend likely to continue at UFC 164 as he faced Clay Guida, but Mendes was still money (pun intended) for a knockout victory.
I know Cody McKenzie and Yaotzin Meza had no business being in the cage with Mendes, but you can’t fault him for the hand he’s been dealt. He made the most of it by stopping both of them in the first round.
Darren Elkins is certainly no slouch, and being the first to stop Guida by TKO would give Mendes two quality wins in a row. Given the fact he’s been ranked in the top five since the loss to Jose Aldo, it would seem to make sense for him to get a shot at the title.
Unfortunately for Mendes, the title picture at featherweight is very murky. A few guys have legitimate claims to facing Aldo and, if Mendes doesn’t get the next shot, he should face one of those fighters. Ricardo Lamas or Frankie Edgar should be next if it’s not Aldo.
Quick stoppage controversy aside, Josh Barnett was well on his way to victory against Frank Mir.
Barnett notches another win over a big name heavyweight, and despite being unknown among the casual fans, Barnett should be in line for a big match up down the road. The casual fans may not know who he is, but his promo skills are on point enough to make people take notice.
A fight that makes a lot of sense to me is Stipe Miocic. Barnett isn’t a big enough commodity right now to face one of the top five guys and Miocic looked great in his last outing. But did his performance have more to do with Roy Nelson laying an egg in the Octagon?
Barnett provides a perfect barometer of where Miocic stands in the division.
Another fight I could see the UFC going with is Barnett vs. Travis Browne. The explosive heavyweight has been on a roll lately and could use a top-10 opponent to validate his place in the upper echelon of the heavyweight division.
Anthony Pettis was originally supposed to face Jose Aldo at UFC 163. An injury cancelled those plans, and after TJ Grant was injured, Pettis slid into the UFC lightweight title match up with his nemesis Benson Henderson.
Pettis called out Aldo in his post-fight speech with Joe Rogan, and I’m sure that’s a fight nearly every MMA fan wants to see. It will be interesting to see if Pettis still will drop to featherweight or if he’ll try to get Aldo to come up now that he’s a champion as well.
If an Aldo-Pettis match doesn’t come to fruition, there’s no question that Grant should get the first crack at Pettis. Grant was originally supposed to be facing Henderson at UFC 164 so it would seem to make sense for him to get the title shot he earned.
He may have to sit on the sidelines or take another fight in the meantime because you can bet Dana White will be going through a ton of phone minutes attempting to get an Aldo-Pettis fight to happen.