UFC 172: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Cruising to a win over Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, Jon Jones made his case to be considered the best fighter in MMA today. The light heavyweight champion also took another big step toward becoming the greatest fighter in MMA history.
With seven consecutive title defenses, Jones has a longer UFC championship reign than any other current champion. At 26 years old, he's also only three wins away from tying Anderson Silva's record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history.
The next step is clear for Jones: He'll meet Alexander Gustafsson in a rematch of their classic battle in September 2013.
Here are the matchups that could be next for the rest of the UFC 172 competitors.
Matchup: Davey Grant
Patrick Williams started well in his UFC debut, scoring two takedowns in the opening round of his bout with Chris Beal. However, Williams' night took a turn in a hurry during the second stanza.
Less than two minutes into the frame, Williams was backed up against the cage and ate a brutal flying knee from Beal.
Williams should have one more opportunity to pick up a win inside the Octagon. That chance could come against Davey Grant, who also has an 0-1 UFC record.
Matchup: Lucas Martins
A contestant on The Ultimate Fighter 18, Beal finally got his chance to compete in an official UFC bout on Saturday.
The Real Deal had some issues with his defensive wrestling early on, but he was eventually able to force Williams onto his heels and ended the fight with a well-timed flying knee. At 28 years old, Beal started his UFC career strong.
With knockouts in 10 of his past 14 victories, Lucas Martins would provide Beal with a solid stand-up matchup.
Matchup: Kazuki Tokudome
Charlie Brenneman is not finding much success in his UFC return.
A fighter who once defeated Rick Story at 170 pounds, Brenneman is winless in two UFC bouts since coming back at 155 pounds. On Saturday, Brenneman's wrestling looked strong in the first round, where he scored two takedowns, but a Danny Castillo right hand in the second stanza knocked Brenneman out cold.
Despite his struggles, Brenneman could get another UFC appearance, as he wasn't expected to beat Castillo. A must-win bout with Kazuki Tokudome could be Brenneman's last opportunity to prove himself and keep his UFC career going.
Matchup: Jamie Varner vs. James Krause Winner
Castillo is establishing himself as one of the better lightweights outside the top-15 rankings.
At UFC 172, Last Call made a statement against Brenneman with a knockout that could have earned him a Performance of the Night bonus on most other fight cards. The win returned Castillo to the win column, where he has remained against every adversary except Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza over his past eight appearances.
Now, Castillo will set his sights on earning a shot at another ranked 155-pounder. Beating the winner of a UFC 173 bout between Jamie Varner and James Krause could earn him that opportunity.
Matchup: Alexis Dufresne
A TUF 18 contestant, Jessamyn Duke beat Peggy Morgan to guarantee herself a few more UFC fights. However, she was not able to build on that momentum on Saturday.
Duke spent the majority of three rounds standing with Bethe Correia. Despite her reach advantage, Duke landed on 54 significant strikes, while Correia was more active with 91 significant strikes landed. In the end, Correia's output allowed her to take the decision win.
At 27 years old, Duke can turn things around and still have an outstanding UFC career. Taking on Alexis Dufresne could give Duke a good chance to return to the Octagon.
Matchup: Jessica Andrade
Correia has wasted no time finding success inside the Octagon.
The Brazilian was more active than Duke on Saturday and landed the bigger shots en route to a decision victory. Now undefeated in eight MMA bouts, Correia has made a case for a fight with a top-10 female bantamweight.
At No. 9 in the official UFC rankings, Jessica Andrade would be a good place for Correia to start should she get that step up in competition.
Matchup: Yancy Medeiros
Facing a well-known opponent who hadn't fought in 13 months, Isaac Vallie-Flagg had a chance to pick up a big win on Saturday.
While Vallie-Flagg did land over 100 significant strikes, he fell short on the scorecards. With the Jackson's MMA product and Takanori Gomi landing a high volume of strikes, Vallie-Flagg did take home a Fight of the Night bonus.
That should guarantee him another fight inside the Octagon. However, it could be a loser-leaves-town matchup against fellow UFC 172 loser Yancy Medeiros, who has also lost two in a row.
Matchup: KJ Noons
At 35 years old, Gomi could have shown up looking much older than he did in his previous outing, which took place 13 months ago.
Instead, Gomi turned in one of his stronger UFC performances, beating Vallie-Flagg on the scorecards. The Fireball Kid landed 130 significant strikes, 23 more than Vallie-Flagg did over three rounds.
Gomi is entertaining against opponents willing to stand with him, so a boxing match with KJ Noons could produce fireworks.
Matchup: John Lineker
Tim Elliott hasn't been able to break through and become a serious contender in the flyweight division but has been a tough out for any 125-pounder he's faced.
Saturday was no different for Elliott, who scored three takedowns on Joseph Benavidez in the first round before getting caught in a submission. He wasn't able to shock the world, but Elliott again showed he can hang with the best flyweights in the world.
With both fighters having recently lost to Ali Bagautinov, Elliott and John Lineker are in similar spots. A matchup between the two seems like a good possibility.
Matchup: John Dodson vs. John Moraga Winner
Benavidez continues to win against everyone but the very best in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions.
The Team Alpha Male fighter started slow against Elliott on Saturday, but he was able to surprise his opponent with a guillotine choke in the final minute of the first round. In 24 career fights, Benavidez has still only lost to UFC champions Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson.
With his win over the weekend, Benavidez is ready to get back to top-five competition. A bout with the winner of a UFC Fight Night 42 matchup between John Dodson and John Moraga could be next for him.
Matchup: Akira Corassani
At UFC 172, Andre Fili was matched up with another very promising young featherweight in Max Holloway.
The bout was competitive, but Holloway established an edge in the striking department, which forced Fili to attempt a takedown in the third round. Although he was able to get Holloway to the canvas three times, Fili eventually got caught in a guillotine choke in the third round.
Only 23 years old, Fili will have several more chances to make a run at title contention. He should start his next climb against Akira Corassani, who is coming off of a loss to Dustin Poirier.
Matchup: Rony Jason vs. Robbie Peralta Winner
Following back-to-back losses against Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor, Holloway might have made the adjustments he needed to make to reach his potential.
At UFC 172, Holloway bested Fili with his striking and forced his opponent to attempt takedowns. In the third round, Holloway was able to counter one of those takedown attempts with a guillotine choke, resulting in the Hawaiian's first submission victory.
Ready to step up in competition, Holloway could now meet the winner of a bout between Rony Jason and Robbie Peralta later this month.
Matchup: Isaac Vallie-Flagg
With his win over Yves Edwards standing as a no-contest due to a failed drug test, Medeiros is now in a bad position.
Following a submission loss to Jim Miller on Saturday, Medeiros has officially now lost two in a row. He's not going to get cut, as his defeat over the weekend was expected against a ranked lightweight, but he may need to earn a win in his next outing in order to stick around.
Also on a skid, Vallie-Flagg would be a logical matchup for Medeiros right now.
Matchup: Michael Johnson
When Bobby Green went down with an injury, UFC 172 turned into a bit of a no-win situation for Miller.
However, Miller did do what was expected of him by submitting Medeiros rather quickly. With the victory, Miller should be matched up with a top-15 lightweight next time around.
Rebooking a bout with Green could make sense, but a matchup with Michael Johnson might be more realistic unless Green recovers in a hurry.
Matchup: Stanislav Nedkov
It is becoming clear Tim Boetsch probably hit his ceiling with wins over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard.
With his submission loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC 172, Boetsch has now lost three of his past four fights. Depending on who one asks, it could be argued The Barbarian should have lost four in a row, with his win over CB Dollaway coming in a close decision.
Expect Boetsch to see a significant step down in competition. Inactive for the past 14 months, Stanislav Nedkov could return against Boetsch.
Matchup: Ronaldo Souza
Rockhold is racing back toward the front of the line for a shot at the middleweight championship.
Since being knocked out by Vitor Belfort, Rockhold has stopped Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch in under three minutes. Finishing Philippou with a body kick and Boetsch with a kimura, Rockhold showed he's dangerous in all areas.
One matchup has been looming for Rockhold since his days as Strikeforce champion. Rockhold took that belt from Ronaldo Souza in controversial fashion, so a more decisive win over Jacare a few years later could move the American Kickboxing Academy product closer to a championship bout.
Matchup: Jimi Manuwa
Phil Davis is one of the more talented athletes in the light heavyweight division, but he continues to have problems putting everything together inside the Octagon.
On Saturday, Davis was forced to stand with Anthony Johnson. That resulted in a lopsided striking match and a decision loss for Mr. Wonderful.
A bout with Jimi Manuwa, who presents similar problems to Johnson, could force Davis to make necessary improvements.
Matchup: Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante Winner
One fight into his UFC return, Johnson is already looking like an elite 205-pounder.
Rumble had answers for everything Davis threw at him. The former welterweight shut down Davis' takedown attempts with ease and battered the former NCAA champion wrestler with dynamic striking.
There is a bit of a line forming at the top of the light heavyweight division now, so Johnson may have to take a step backward before he can move forward. A matchup with the winner of UFC 174 bout between Ryan Bader and Rafael Cavalcante would give Rumble a chance to show off his striking again.
Matchup: Rashad Evans
At 34 years old, Teixeira might only have time for one shot at Jones, and he got it on Saturday.
The Brazilian took Jones to the scorecards, but he wasn't able to do much offensively. Jones roughed Teixeira up in the clinch and evaded the challenger's power punches when there was distance between the two.
Considering he took a good amount of damage at UFC 172, Teixeira could be looking at a vacation. His next fight could come against Rashad Evans, who is currently rehabbing a knee injury.
Matchup: Alexander Gustafsson
The wins keep on coming for Jones.
It would have been nice to see Jones add an exclamation point to his performance on Saturday with a finish. Still, the light heavyweight champion dominated a tough opponent in Teixeira from start to finish and reminded everyone why he's been so dominant over recent years.
Next, Jones will meet the only opponent he wasn't really able to manhandle: Gustafsson.