UFC 168: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Chris Weidman retained his middleweight championship at UFC 168, where he dominated Anderson Silva on the ground prior to the Brazilian suffering a gruesome leg injury.
In the first round, Weidman took Silva down quickly, but it was a knockdown that kept the former champion on the canvas for the rest of the stanza. From the top, Weidman went to work with ground-and-pound and earned a clear edge on the scorecards.
Then, the second frame came to an abrupt halt when a Silva leg kick was checked perfectly by Weidman. Silva's leg snapped at the shin on impact, resulting in an immediate stoppage and unfortunately the likely end of the Brazilian's storied MMA career.
Now that Weidman has beaten Silva in back-to-back outings, he can begin looking forward to defending his belt against new foes. Here are the fights that should be next for the 185-pound titleholder and the rest of the UFC 168 competitors.
Estevan Payan vs. Godofredo Pepey
Estevan Payan is now 0-2 inside the Octagon, putting him in danger of being released from the UFC roster.
At UFC 168, Payan looked to be up on the scorecards through two rounds. However, opponent Robbie Peralta came out firing in the third round and stopped his fellow Strikeforce veteran with punches only 12 seconds into the final stanza.
While Payan has come up empty through his first two UFC appearances, he may get one more shot to prove himself in the world's top MMA promotion. The 31-year-old was undefeated under the Strikeforce banner and started strong on Saturday, proving he's capable of being competitive at the highest level.
If Payan does return, a bout with Godofredo Pepey, who has also lost two in a row, is a possibility.
Robbie Peralta vs. Jimy Hettes
Robbie Peralta refused to suffer consecutive losses for the first time in his MMA career on Saturday.
Falling behind on the scorecards after two rounds, Peralta needed to make something happen heading into the third frame of his bout with Estevan Payan. The 27-year-old wasted no time, stopping Payan with strikes only seconds after the final round began.
A bout between Peralta and Jimy Hettes would make sense now. Both fighters bounced back into the win column with their most recent outings.
Bobby Voelker vs. Pascal Krauss-Adam Khaliev Loser
Despite losing three in a row, Bobby Voelker will likely compete in the Octagon again.
On Saturday, Voelker lost all three rounds of his contest with William Macario. Still, UFC president Dana White was pleased with Voelker's fighting style and stated the Strikeforce won't be released at the UFC 168 post-fight press conference.
Still, Voelker's next bout will almost certainly be a must win. The loser of a UFC on Fox 10 matchup between Pascal Krauss and UFC newcomer Adam Khaliev could be in a similar situation, so that fighter could be Voelker's next adversary.
William Macario vs. Seth Baczynski
William Macario will have a chance to continue his development inside the Octagon.
Following a loss in The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 finals, Macario's UFC career was in jeopardy heading into Saturday. However, with a decision win over Bobby Voelker, the 22-year-old should be sticking around for a few more fights.
As the Brazilian looks to climb the welterweight ladder, a bout with Seth Baczynski is a possibility. Like Macario, Baczynski recently picked up a win to keep his UFC career going.
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Lance Benoist
One of the more dangerous strikers in the welterweight division, Siyar Bahadurzada has been having trouble staying upright in his past two outings.
At UFC 168, Bahadurzada was controlled in the clinch and on the ground for more than six minutes over three rounds. When he was able to stand, Bahadurzada was only able to land 26 percent of his strikes from distance against John Howard, leading to a decision loss.
Also coming off of back-to-back losses, Lance Benoist could meet Bahadurzada in a loser-leaves-town matchup.
John Howard vs. John Hathaway
John Howard is making the most of his second stint with the world's premier MMA promotion.
After posting a 4-3 record in his first run with the UFC, Howard is off to a 2-0 start since joining the organization's roster again four months ago. At UFC 168, Howard shut down the striking of Siyar Bahadurzada to pick up a decision win much like he did against Uriah Hall.
While he's been inactive for 15 months, John Hathaway has won three in a row and would provide Howard with a different test stylistically.
Manny Gamburyan vs. Hacran Dias
Manny Gamburyan was making a run at the featherweight Top 10 with back-to-back wins, but he suffered a setback on Saturday.
While Gamburyan was competitive with Dennis Siver, he was out-landed in the striking department and spent more than five minutes underneath the German. "The Anvil" won a round on all three scorecards, but it wasn't enough to keep his winning streak going.
A bout with Hacran Dias could now be next for Gamburyan. The Brazilian also recently had a winning streak brought to a halt by a Top 10 145-pounder, Nik Lentz.
Dennis Siver vs. Dennis Bermudez
Dennis Siver is back in the win column and back in featherweight title contention.
Following a loss to Cub Swanson, Dennis Siver needed a win to remain a Top 10 featherweight and legitimate title threat. Scoring two takedowns and landing 191 strikes, Siver performed well enough over three rounds to earn a decision victory.
With five straight wins, Dennis Bermudez has earned a shot at being a Top 10 145-pounder. Siver could also use one more win over a non-ranked fighter before he gets back to battling elite featherweights, so a bout with The Ultimate Fighter 14 runner-up is a possibility.
Gleison Tibau vs. Melvin Guillard-Ross Pearson Loser
Again, Gleison Tibau has fallen short of becoming a title contender in the lightweight division.
The Brazilian entered UFC 168 with back-to-back wins and had a strong first round against Michael Johnson. However, Tibau was floored the second stanza and couldn't recover before the referee stepped in to save him from Johnson's follow-up punches.
Tibau will look to rebound next time around, as he hasn't lost consecutive fights since 2008. A bout with the loser of a March bout between Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson would be intriguing, as Tibau would no doubt like an opportunity to avenge a split decision loss to the former from June 2009.
Uriah Hall vs. Lorenz Larkin-Brad Tavares Winner
Uriah Hall avoided being run out of the UFC with three straight losses.
On Saturday, Hall patiently picked apart Chris Leben with precision striking before rocking the veteran badly at the end of the first round. Unable to continue into the second round, Leben suffered a fourth straight loss and will likely be released from the UFC roster.
As Hall looks to improve his standing in the middleweight division, a bout with the winner of a January matchup between Lorenz Larkin and Brad Tavares would promise some exciting striking.
Diego Brandao vs. Rony Jason
Things did not go well for Diego Brandao at UFC 168.
First, he threatened to stab Dustin Poirier, according to the American at the UFC 168 post-fight press conference. Then, he missed weight badly at the UFC 168 weigh-ins. Most notably, though, he was overwhelmed by Poirier in the first round and suffered a knockout loss.
Now, The Ultimate Fighter 14 winner could look to turn things around against a fellow TUF winner in Rony Jason, who is also coming off of a disappointing loss due to strikes.
Dustin Poirier vs. Darren Elkins-Jeremy Stephens Winner
Dustin Poirier is back in the hunt for a shot at the featherweight championship.
Since a loss to Cub Swanson, Poirier has bounced back well with wins over Diego Brandao and Erik Koch. Despite being undersized against an overweight Brandao, Poirier steamrolled the Brazilian to earn his first knockout victory inside the Octagon.
As Poirier slowly works his way back up to competing against Top Five featherweights, a bout with the winner of an upcoming matchup between Darren Elkins and Jeremy Stephens could be interesting. Elkins also owns a recent win over Brandao and Stephens has been surging since moving to 145 pounds.
Fabricio Camoes vs. Drew Dober
Fabricio Camoes' second UFC stint could be another short one after losing two of his first three fights.
At UFC 168, Camoes was handed a tough task in Top 10 lightweight Jim Miller. Despite being a solid jiu-jitsu practitioner, the Brazilian was caught in an armbar in the first round and had to tap.
The next time Camoes appears, his UFC job will likely be on the line. So, a bout with Drew Dober, who will likely return to the lightweight division following a loss in his Octagon debut, is a possibility.
Jim Miller vs. Michael Johnson
Jim Miller and Michael Johnson both took steps forward in the 155-pound division on Saturday.
In a bout with Fabricio Camoes, Miller scored an armbar in the opening round. Johnson, meanwhile, started slow, but he was able to finish Gleison Tibau with strikes in the second round.
Technically speaking, Miller and Johnson have now both won their past two official fights. Johnson has earned a shot at a Top 10 lightweight at this point, and Miller would be a good test for him.
Josh Barnett vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Josh Barnett's late UFC title run has been sidetracked for now.
On Saturday, Barnett was stunned with a knee from Travis Browne, who finished off the former UFC champion with elbows. The 36-year-old Barnett will now look to fight big names until he rebuilds momentum.
Barnett split two fights with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira under the Pride FC banner. With both fighters coming off of a loss, now is as good a time as any for a rubber match.
Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum
Travis Browne has thrown himself into the hunt to be the next heavyweight to challenge Cain Velasquez.
Since an injury hampered him in a loss to Antonio Silva, Browne has rattled off three straight first-round knockout wins. "Hapa" could now be one more win away from earning a shot at the UFC heavyweight championship.
It now appears Browne will meet Fabricio Werdum in a title shot eliminator while Velasquez recovers from a shoulder injury.
Miesha Tate vs. Shayna Baszler
Miesha Tate clearly has some work to do in order to defeat Ronda Rousey.
While "Cupcake" became the first fighter to survive the first round against the champion, she was still dominated by Rousey and was ultimately submitted again. At 27 years old, Tate has time to work her way back to the top, but she'll need to start from near the bottom and build some serious momentum to earn a third fight with Rousey.
Only in the women's bantamweight division does it make any sense for a title challenger coming off of a loss to meet a fighter coming off of a loss in the quarterfinals of The Ultimate Fighter. However, a bout between Tate and Shayna Baszler would be both intriguing and entertaining.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann
Ronda Rousey was finally forced to fight past the first round on Saturday.
Archrival Miesha Tate did suffer another submission loss to Rousey at UFC 168, but she worked on her submission defense enough to reach the third stanza. With two wins over Tate behind her, Rousey can look forward to fresh challenges.
Next up is Sara McMann, a fellow Olympic medalist whose wrestling credentials make her one of the biggest stylistic threats to Rousey.
Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort
Chris Weidman also has a big opponent in the rear-view mirror.
With his win over Anderson Silva at UFC 168, Weidman can now be viewed as the future of the middleweight division. Unfortunately, his win could also mean the end of Anderson Silva, who snapped his lower leg with a checked leg kick.
Now, Weidman will prepare to defend his 185-pound title against a fresh adversary. The red hot Vitor Belfort will challenge Weidman soon.