Over the last half-decade the UFC roster has grown substantially to the point where there are simply so many fighters that some can get lost in the shuffle.
A parade of events have come through in the past five weeks, leaving many out of commission in the short term. Others have fallen to injury or suffered infections like “Staph” that kept them sidelined. Still, there are those who, for whatever reason, are simply without a fight.
Here is a list of six men who Joe Silva should sign with for a fight as quickly as possible.
Following his victory at the TUF 17 Finale, the 10-2 prospect has been sitting on the shelf for the UFC. There is a lot of talent underutilized in the organization, but ignoring opportunities to utilize young workhorses is nearly criminal.
Samman has shown himself to be a dual threat thus far in his career. Whether standing or grounded, he will give his opponent a war. It is a shame fans have not had the opportunity to see more of him.
More recently, an injury delayed his return as he was set to face Uriah Hall in July. However, young fighters like Samman can literally not afford to sit on the sideline from February to July anyway. The prospect should have had at least one fight before midsummer. Hopefully a quick recovery and a quick matchup will launch Samman into some upcoming opportunities.
Possible opponents: Brad Tavares, Andrew Craig or Antonio Braga Neto.
After being poked in the surgically repaired eye and receiving subsequent stitches following his bout with Michael Bisping, nobody would blame Belcher if he didn't fight again. That said, if the man is still willing, then Joe Silva should find a match for him as soon as the veteran feels he is in top shape.
Belcher had a tough go in his most recent pair of bouts, losing to Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping consecutively. “The Talent” must find a way to return back to his winning ways, which earned him four straight wins before his slide.
Belcher puts on a quality show nearly every time out, and the UFC ought to find him an opponent before the end of the year.
Possible opponents: Ed Herman or Tom Lawlor
“The Fireball Kid” was rumored to have a bout with Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 30, after Pearson asked for a fight with the former Pride Lightweight Champion. “The Real Deal” ended up with a match with Melvin Guillard. Now Gomi will have to patiently wait until Joe Silva finds him an opponent to launch his hadouken punches toward.
Gomi was, by many fan and critic accounts, wronged in his last fight against Diego Sanchez. The former top lightweight lost a split decision that spoiled what would have been a three-fight winning streak. Luckily, Dana White was on Gomi’s side, and that often means he did not fall too far in the eyes of UFC brass in his quest for ascension back to the title picture. A pair of quality wins can place him back in the title hunt. But he has to have a fight set up first.
Gomi may no longer be the top fighter in the world, but he always comes out to bang. Hardcore fans still await his bouts with a passion, knowing that he can end fights suddenly and violently. Hopefully Joe Silva gets on it and finds him a potentially exciting matchup.
Potential opponents: Gleison Tibau or Michael Johnson
After his technical knockout victory over Nate Diaz (on 4/20, no less), Thomson has been shelved awaiting the outcome of the lightweight title picture. Well, Joe Silva?
Thomson still needs to build a name with casual UFC fans, despite his highlight finish over Nate Diaz. While being the first to stop a Diaz brother by form of knockout is an accomplishment, chances are many fans don’t know what to make of Thomson yet. That is why another fight is necessary in short order.
If it wasn't for all the clamor and chatter about a possible “superfight” between Aldo and Pettis, Thomson would already be signed to fight for the belt. So the UFC brass should get on it and either give Thomson his shot or hand him a top-contender bout.
Possible opponents: Diego Sanchez, Benson Henderson or Anthony Pettis
While “Ace” has noted he is considering retirement, there are more than a few fans who wish he would put on one or two more fights before stepping away from the sport for good.
Franklin has been unable to stay consistent over the last four years, flip-flopping back and forth between success and failure in seven consecutive bouts. The last loss to Cung Le was especially brutal and may have even shown Franklin he no longer wants the title that he once held.
The fans will hope he finds the will and drive to, at minimum, take one or two more high-profile fights. Fans will certainly be wholly appreciative if he is somehow able to dig deep enough to make one more title run.
Possible opponents: Igor Pokrajac or Rafael Cavalcante at light heavyweight. Yushin Okami or Thales Leites at middleweight.
We all know Nick Diaz said he is retired. But we heard Matt Hamill, Mike Brown and Anderson Silva say the same thing. Diaz has even threatened the sport with his retirement once before. Everybody knows a fighter will return if you give him a fight he truly wants and the money he deserves.
Diaz wants big money but has also lost two straight bouts. Joe Silva and the UFC can entice Diaz with a relatively large payday and no obligation to show up at press conferences. But what does the UFC gain? Priceless soundbites, ridiculous talent and the ability to rile up a crowd. All of which adds to money gained.
If the UFC put Diaz (and his brother) on a Northern California showcase, the fans will back them. Say what you can about the Diaz brothers, but they pump up fans, crowds and total gross revenue.
Possible opponents: Anyone he's willing to fight.