On Saturday June 13, the Ultimate Fighting Championship jumped across the Atlantic and back to Europe for their first ever event in Germany, UFC 99: The Comeback, an event with epic implications for the winners and the losers.
The six fight card was headlined by a much anticipated catch-weight bout featuring Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin, with a supporting cast of Cain Velasquez vs. Cheick Kongo and Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders to name a few.
While the excitement the card was assigned to provide may have been limited and, at times, even nonexistent, the future of these fighters will promise to deliver interesting matchups and exciting turns in their respective careers.
For several of these Ultimate Fighters, the outcome at UFC 99 would be enough for themto inch one step closer to divisional supremacy. Such is the case for Rich Franklin, Mike Swick, and Cain Velasquez, UFC 99’s biggest winners, who are now faced with future advancement in their respective divisions.
Rich Franklin exited UFC 99 with a win, along with several career changing options in the light heavyweight division. After fighting in what was undoubtedly Franklin’s last fight involving a weight limit below 200 pounds, Joe Silva and Dana White will look to gear “Ace” towards a title shot in the 205 pound division.
The likeliest of scenarios for Franklin’s return to light heavyweight status would be a fight with the up and coming Luiz Cane. A win over Cain would launch Franklin possibly within one or two fights of a title shot.
However, Franklin's options also include Chuck Liddell, if the former UFC light heavyweight champion opts to put retirement on hold. If that epic fight falls through, and Franklin is willing to wait, the winner of Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva would be a great matchup for Franklin. A bout with Jardine, the UFC light heavyweight division's gatekeeper, seems almost a must for Franklin to gain legitimacy in the division.
The heavyweight division is witnessing the rise of one of its own to the top of the ranks. Cain Velasquez, while by no means destroying Kongo in the least, has finally shown what his wrestling can do. While he did win the fight, Velasquez's options are more limited than they would have been if he had finished Kongo in dominant fashion, or any fashion for that matter.
After the fight, it seemed Velasquez would in fact be matched up against Mirko Cro Cop, a fight in which a win would likely entail a title shot. However, it has now been said Cro Cop has backed out of his verbal agreement to the now enraged Dana White, choosing to sign a three fight contract with Dream.
However, Velasquez will still manage to land a fight with a very tough heavyweight contender, most likely Shane Carwin. These two undefeated fighters would probably be set to compete for the next title shot, making this match up highly likely. At this point, no other scenario seems to make near as much sense, unless the UFC is going to try to protect Velasquez.
In the welterweight division, Mike Swick finds himself in a possible match with welterweight contender Jon Fitch, who is likely to get a shot at the welterweight champion, whether it be Georges St. Pierre or Thiago Alves. This fight would declare the number one contender in the UFC welterweight division.
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Swick and Fitch meet, unless Fitch somehow loses at UFC 100. A more likely matchup for Swick would be Paulo Thiago or Martin Kampmann, seeing that Fitch is the clear number one contender.
Another relevant option would entail Swick fighting Matt Hughes, as the UFC no doubt would love to give Hughes a tough opponent. With a win, either of these fighters would be looking at a potential title shot.
While Swick, Franklin, and Velasquez managed to advance in the UFC rankings of their respective divisions, three other fighters managed to accomplish quite the opposite, making up UFC 99’s Falling Stock.
Mirko Cro Cop:
Aside from the German UFC fans under that age of eighteen, Mirko Cro Cop was the biggest loser of UFC 99. After setting up his most recent fight over the phone and promising a three fight deal with the UFC, Cro Cop has gone back on his word, apparently having signed a three fight deal with DREAM.
After his much anticipated comeback, Cro Cop has ruined his reputation with UFC fans around the world. Not to mention he messed with Dana White, maybe the biggest mistake a mixed martial artist can make (see Tito Ortiz).
The American Top Teamer entered this last bout looking to prove he could roll with the best. However, Brandon Wolff proved much easier an opponent than Mike Swick. Now Saunders will undoubtedly be matched up with another low ranked UFC welterweight.
Saunders has proven that he is not be prepared for UFC welterweight elite, let alone top ten. Looks like Saunders will be up against another “Brandon Wolff” of the UFC welterweight division.
“The Irish Hand Grenade” lost in a controversial split decision to Dan “Outlaw” Hardy. Though controversial it was, after all the trash being thrown his way from Hardy, Davis needed this win.
While this loss does little damage to Davis’ status in the welterweight division, it may do some damage to him mentally. It is sad, but probably true, that Davis’ mentality was seriously affected by Hardy’s trash talk.
Any mixed martial artist will explain how important the mental attitude is for a fighter. In this past fight, Davis seemed to show that his opponent may be able to defeat him mentally, before even stepping into the octagon; a weakness no fighter can afford to have.
Several fighters managed to keep their current divisional status unchanged, regardless of the fight outcome. Wanderlei Silva, Cheick Kongo, and Caol Uno all find themselves in similar positions as they were before the fight, even though they were on the losing side of the judges’ scorecards. The lone victor on this list, Spencer Fisher, also did not find much to gain from his win.
However, with three of the four listed fighters having lost, the next fight becomes that much more important. Fisher’s win was so unimpressive that his next bout is equally vital to his career.
Cheick Kongo sees himself falling away from title contention after losing to Velasquez after taking the fight on short notice, but just barely. The fact that he had but three weeks to prepare for the dangerous Cain Velasquez helps his case immensely. Kongo will certainly be matched up against someone who is also inching close to title contention.
Enter Gabriel Gonzaga.
Gonzaga would be a great match for Kongo, and for the UFC. This fight would guarantee to deliver excitement, along with a devastating knockout. With a win, Kongo would gain back any lost momentum and then some.
Wanderlei Silva may have lost to Rich Franklin this past Saturday, but it was another exciting fight for “The Axe Murderer”. There can be no doubt that Dana White was once again very pleased, which could land Silva a top competitor in the UFC middleweight division, something fans anticipated no matter what the fights outcome.
With Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping fighting at UFC 100, the timing seems almost perfect for one of those two to fight Silva. If Henderson loses, possibly expect a rematch between "Hendo" and Silva. If Henderson wins, while Bisping would certainly be an option, Joe Silva may find a bout with Patrick Cote or Nate Marquardt a little more mesmerizing to for fans.
Caol Uno and Spencer Fisher:
With a very lackluster fight, both Uno and Fisher do not see much improvement or decline in their respective rankings. They each will end up fighting a similar opponent as their counterpart at UFC 99.
With the boredom expressed by the German fans, it is likely Dana White is not happy with the pair either, which is never a good thing to claim as a UFC fighter.
Although the card for UFC 99 will never be ruled exciting or thrilling, the repercussions created from “The Comeback” will reverberate through every division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.