UFC 168 Results: What's Next for Chris Weidman and Other Winners
UFC 168 started off fast and furious but featured a strange end to cap everything off.
Dustin Poirier, Jim Miller and Travis Browne all ended their fights in the first round. Ronda Rousey ended her rivalry (kind of) with Miesha Tate, as Rousey secured another armbar victory. However, Tate survived through the first round to force Rousey into the third.
In the main event, Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II lived up to the hype initially. Weidman used his grappling to control much of the first frame from inside the guard of "The Spider." The champion used some nice elbows and punches to score points as well.
The second round saw a freak accident occur as Silva's ankle snapped from Weidman checking a leg kick. The injury may be the end of Silva's career, but at least this fight doesn't leave a sour taste in many fans' mouth as Weidman was clearly winning up to that point.
The champion already has his next opponent lined up, but what about the other winners at UFC 168?
Dustin Poirier's mindset is: A good defense involves a good offense. Not going the usual route of waiting for Diego Brandao to tire himself out, Poirier finished the Brazilian by TKO in the first round.
He unleashed some nasty body shots before knocking Brandao to the mat with a hook. Brandao looked for a half-hearted sweep attempt but had little to offer besides covering up once Poirier started raining down punches from the top.
The victory put Poirier on a two-fight winning streak to end 2013. He may get the chance to avenge his only loss of the year, as Poirier could (and should) face Cub Swanson in a rematch in 2014. The two men are top contenders that don't have a clear path in front of them as Ricardo Lamas is facing Jose Aldo in February and Chad Mendes likely won't risk another underwhelming performance after winning five straight contests.
Jim Miller finds himself in a familiar position following his UFC 168 submission victory. Miller has always been able to handle the middle-of-the-road-type of fighter but has struggled when facing the upper-level caliber of fighters.
He'll likely get the chance to face another high-level fighter as Miller's exciting style always means the UFC will be willing to propel him up into a feature contest.
Although Miller is technically on a two-fight winning streak, he did lose against Pat Healy at UFC 159. The problem for Miller and his next contest is that many of the top lightweights already have fights lined up. Despite it typically being against the UFC's normal matchmaking method, facing the loser of Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson would make sense in terms of rankings.
If TJ Grant can get cleared to return to fighting, I wouldn't mind seeing Grant and Miller fight as well.
Travis Browne is one scary individual. Not only does he have the physical gifts, but it's become apparent he's got the skills of a heavyweight contender as well.
Three first-round knockouts in 2013 have put Browne in position to make a serious title run. He's also bathing in money as all those knockouts earned him Knockout of the Night honors.
The last of the knockouts may be the most impressive of the three for Browne, as he finished one of the most durable fighters in the history of MMA. He also showcased incredible heart in withstanding the onslaught of Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night 26.
Unfortunately for Browne, his next fight may not come quickly. It would make sense for him to face Fabricio Werdum, but Werdum seems likely to sit on the sidelines and wait for Cain Velasquez to heal up.
If Browne doesn't want to sit on the sidelines, I wouldn't mind seeing him face Stipe Miocic should he get past Gabriel Gonzaga.
Ronda Rousey defeated another opponent by armbar, although it took more than just a round for her to win at UFC 168. Rousey and her UFC 168 opponent, Miesha Tate, remain the two most recognizable faces in women's MMA, but they will likely never face each other again.
Rousey showed a little more of her striking game against Tate but still utilized her judo background extensively. She will likely have to use even more hip tosses with her next opponent, Sara McMann.
McMann won her UFC debut against Sheila Gaff and was scheduled to face Sarah Kaufman until McMann pulled out of the contest.
Now, she'll jump up to the front of the line to face Rousey at UFC 170. It's a fight many fans have been waiting to see, as McMann holds perhaps the best wrestling credentials in all of women's MMA. She, like Rousey, has an Olympic medal to her credit, and McMann owns a number of other accomplishments on a global stage.
We will have to wait a little longer to see Cat Zingano fight for the title after defeating Tate earlier this year, but fans shouldn't complain about seeing McMann vs. Rousey.
Chris Weidman has to be one of the most unlucky fighters in 2013. His first win over Anderson Silva was labeled a fluke by many (it wasn't) and his rematch ended in a freak injury suffered by Silva.
Weidman was winning the fight up until the end, which validates his place atop the middleweight rankings. Weidman is one of the most complete fighters in all of MMA, and it will take someone special to knock him off the top of the mountain.
Looking to do that will be Vitor Belfort, who seems like the surefire next challenger. Belfort has a cloud of controversy surrounding him, which makes putting a title match together problematic. On one hand, Weidman shouldn't have to travel to Brazil to face Belfort, but the Brazilian will have issues trying to get clearance for his use of testosterone replacement therapy in the States.
If the UFC can get the TRT issues resolved, fans could see an explosive middleweight title fight between Weidman and Belfort.