UFC 171: What's Next for the Winners?

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2014

UFC 171: What's Next for the Winners?

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    UFC 171 was an eventful broadcast for the UFC. The wild night in Dallas saw half of the relevant welterweights on the roster jockeying for position and a man not named Georges St-Pierre leave a 170-pound title fight as champion for the first time since 2007.

    Johny Hendricks bested Robbie Lawler in a tight main event to secure his first UFC title reign, while Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard, Myles Jury and Ovince Saint Preux all scored main card wins as well.

    Here are some suggestions on what might be next for each guy, as well as those who were successful on the prelims.

Early Prelims

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Robert Whiteford

    His win over Daniel Pineda was his first in the UFC, moving him to 1-1. It was a grind, and the promotion probably still doesn't know what it has here, so it might make sense to give him undefeated Filipino scrapper Mark Eddiva.

    Sean Strickland

    "Tarzan" scored his 14th straight win and had the only stoppage on this portion of the card over Bubba McDaniel. Match him up with 10-1 recent winner Claudio Henrique da Silva and see how he looks.

    Justin Scoggins

    Scoggins might be the hottest prospect at flyweight, and he landed another win in Dallas to improve to 9-0. He's a nasty dude who is due for a little bump in competition, so perhaps a date with Phil Harris is in order.

    Francisco Trevino

    Trevino missed weight but still got the win, bettering Renee Forte over three rounds. He's now 12-0 in his career. Saturday marked his first UFC win, so he should stay on the path to a slow build. Provided he can hit 155 pounds, give him Ernest Chavez.

Alex Garcia

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    Garcia continued his march from prospect to relevance at UFC 171 by way of a spirited decision over Sean Spencer. The two hit the cage with enthusiasm and slugged it out to the delight of those in attendance and watching on television. After three rounds, Garcia took a split decision.

    He's still a work in progress, but it's easy to be excited about his ceiling. The UFC should keep him on the steady path.

    Up Next: Omari Akhmedov just lost, but he'll engage Garcia in all the right ways. That one could make some sense.

Dennis Bermudez

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Bermudez looked like a man possessed in his beatdown of Jimy Hettes. He's now won six in a row and should be getting far more attention than he has been from the UFC. It's funny how "winner of The Ultimate Fighter" changes your fate as compared to "guy who almost won The Ultimate Fighter" when it comes time to start your UFC career.

    Based on how quickly he's developing and the tools he already has as a foundation, he should probably get a notable name next time out.

    Up Next: Jeremy Stephens has looked good at featherweight and is presently without a dance partner. Let's see how Bermudez does against a nasty veteran.

Jessica Andrade

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    Andrade went to war with Raquel Pennington in a bout that showcased the very best of women's MMA. She was a fearless bulldog, while Pennington tried to keep her at bay with forceful boxing, but at the end of the day, the Brazilian pulled out the win.

    Though she may not be ready for the best of the division just yet, she has plenty of room to grow at only 22 years old. She's not far out of the title picture due to the lack of depth in the division, but she needs to get there the right way.

    Up Next: With Cat Zingano and Gina Carano in the picture, it doesn't seem like Alexis Davis will be getting a title shot anytime soon. Considering their similar styles, a bout between her and Andrade would guarantee fireworks.

Kelvin Gastelum

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Gastelum was a monster in Dallas, looking spectacular in his bout against Rick Story. He gave some punishment, took some punishment and eventually slipped out the back door with his perfect professional record intact.

    There's reason to be excited about the young TUF champion, as he's evolving from his wrestling base and has seemingly found a home at welterweight. The sky is the limit for him, but a slow build is crucial to him getting there.

    Up Next: Mike Pyle just derailed TJ Waldburger and shares a common win over Story. He'd be a good test for Gastelum at this point.

Ovince Saint Preux

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    OSP looked devastating in his brief smashing of Nikita Krylov on Saturday night, overpowering the Ukrainian and choking him unconscious in seconds.

    This one was supposed to be the type of test that Saint Preux needed to pass. He was initially booked against Thiago Silva before some personal issues bumped Silva from the card and, in turn, the promotion. OSP should get someone around that level in his next tilt.

    Up Next: James Te Huna would provide an interesting stylistic clash and match Saint Preux's strength. That could be one for Joe Silva to look into.

Hector Lombard

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    The 170-pound version of Lombard looks to be every bit as nasty as the one who lorded over Bellator's middleweight division for so long. He deserves to be worthy of some serious title consideration going forward.

    He demolished Jake Shields at UFC 171, doing everything right and putting on a remarkable display of fireworks with his trips and throws. The only concern is his gas tank, which is bad enough to be debilitating and will likely never improve due to the sheer mass of muscle that he carries.

    Still, he's a fun guy to watch and perhaps an even more fun guy to ponder future matchups for.

    Up Next: Tyron Woodley won his bout with Carlos Condit at UFC 171, but it happened with an asterisk as Condit's knee gave way in the bout. Woodley and Lombard should fight in the summer to earn a title shot by year's end.

Myles Jury

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Jury did what many thought he would on Saturday night, avoiding the blitzkrieg approach of Diego Sanchez to pick up an easy decision win. He's been a fighter to watch since before his first stint on The Ultimate Fighter, and after doing a second run on the show, he looks to be coming into his own at 14-0.

    Lightweight is wide open right now, but it's also deep with talent. It's hard to say who'll end up across the cage from Jury in his next bout, but his days as an unknown undercarder are probably done.

    Up Next: How about a rematch against Michael Johnson? Both are different fighters than they were when Jury beat him in 2012, and with so many top guys tied up, it would be a good opportunity to show why the winner should get a big name next.

Tyron Woodley

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    Eric Jamison/Associated Press

    Woodley smartly called out the best matchup available to him from the top contenders at welterweight and then put in a good first round against Carlos Condit before disaster struck. A Condit knee injury robbed fans of a proper resolution and robbed both fighters of a chance to prove who was truly better.

    While it would be nice to see these two reset and do it again, Condit's knee injury inspired little hope that he'd be in the cage again this year. Woodley needs to move on but definitely not to the title shot he's so hungry for.

    Up Next: As mentioned before, Hector Lombard was the other big winner at UFC 171. Neither man won flawlessly enough to have a clear path to the title, so let them butt heads and see if one can make a more direct, convincing case.

Johny Hendricks

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    After a stellar 25 minutes of action against Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks finally got the title he was so sure he deserved after UFC 167 in November.

    He was able to establish an early rhythm and get ahead of Lawler and then absorb what "Ruthless" came back with before securing the fight with a good fifth round. It was by far his gutsiest performance—one that looked like it might get away from him, as a grinning Lawler was clubbing him with combos, but the Dallas resident hung tough and gave his hometown something to cheer for.

    Most of the top guys are either tied up, coming off losses, hurt or in some state of partial retirement, so it's hard to see where the UFC can go with Hendricks. His division is open like it hasn't been in years, though.

    Up Next: I personally hate the fight and the reason it will have to be booked, but it seems like Rory MacDonald is the only guy who is available with any sort of reasonable claim to a shot. A drab win streak followed by alternating a loss and win shouldn't warrant title consideration, but sometimes being in the right place at the right time is enough.

    It likely will be for MacDonald.

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