UFC 172: What's Next for the Winners and Losers?
After a somewhat questionable performance against Alexander Gustafsson last September, Jon Jones erased any and all doubts that he is the greatest light heavyweight of all time with a thorough domination of Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 this past Saturday night in Baltimore, Maryland.
With a dynamic arsenal of attacks, highlighted by his patented elbow strikes, Jones systematically dismantled Teixeira through five rounds.
It was vintage Jon Jones at his best, and the MMA world is foaming at the mouth in anticipation for a colossal rematch between the champ and the Swede.
UFC President Dana White has already pretty much guaranteed that Gustafsson will be next in Jones’ crosshairs if all goes according to plan.
But what about the rest of the fighters who competed at UFC 172? Let’s take a look at what should be next for them on their path towards a UFC championship.
Chris Beal vs. Mitch Gagnon
In his official UFC debut, The Ultimate Fighter 18 vet Chris Beal sent Patrick Williams crashing to the floor with a flying knee in the second round to open up UFC 172. He couldn’t have asked for a better way to debut than that.
As part of Team Rousey on TUF 18, Beal was heavily hyped as an early favorite to win the entire competition and for good reason. He’s an undefeated prospect with obvious athletic ability and potential.
An exhibition loss to Chris Holdsworth on TUF aside, Beal is still undefeated officially and is someone who could make a lot of noise in the bantamweight division down the road.
A good test for Beal in his next fight would be Canadian dynamo Mitch Gagnon.
In order for a fighter to truly develop, you have to put them in situations that force them to evolve and adapt. Beal is an excellent striker, but his ground game needs work.
A fight against a strong ground fighter like Gagnon will give Beal an opportunity to fill that hole in his game.
Danny Castillo vs. Joe Lauzon
In case you haven’t already figured this out by now, Danny Castillo is a bad dude. This Team Alpha Male juggernaut is one of the most explosive lightweights in the UFC. His brutal knockout over Charlie Brenneman last night just further proves that.
Castillo is now 7-3 in the UFC and one of the most consistent lightweights in the division. It only makes sense to match him up with a fighter that has similar consistencies: Joe Lauzon.
Like Castillo, Lauzon has a high winning percentage in the UFC but just can't crack the upper echelon. Both are explosive. Both are coming off wins. Let’s make this one happen. What do you say, Joe Silva?
Bethe Correia vs. Liz Carmouche
It wasn’t the most exciting fight in the world, but it seems like, at least for a moment, Bethe Correia put an end to this ridiculous “Four Horsewomen” gimmick.
Look, I’m not as mean as Jonathan Snowden, but I kind of agree with him here. I’m all for having fun, but if you’re going to rip off an iconic group like the Horsemen, you’re going to have to back it up in a big way.
Ronda Rousey is the only one of the group who does that, and she’s still no Ric Flair.
Just my two cents. I’m not hating, though.
Correia is 2-0 in the UFC but has yet to truly make a statement in the women’s bantamweight division.
She’s currently ranked No. 12, and a fight against seventh-ranked Liz Carmouche seems like a good fit to me.
Takanori Gomi vs. Katsunori Kikuno
Gomi is riding high off of a "Fight of the Night" victory over Isaac Vallie-Flagg on the UFC 172 prelims. The former PRIDE lightweight champion is now 3-1 through his last four fights and is hungry to punch his way into title contention before riding off into the sunset.
Dana White mentioned in the post-fight press conference that he wants to see Gomi fight on the next card in Japan. If that’s the case, I say match him up with a fellow Japanese fighter in former Deep champion Katsunori Kikuno.
Kikuno is scheduled to meet TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson next month at UFC 173. If he is victorious in that matchup, a fight with “The Fireball Kid” in Japan could be huge.
Joseph Benavidez vs. John Moraga
Joseph Benavidez is essentially the Junior Dos Santos of the flyweight division. He can pretty much beat every single flyweight in the world except for the champion, Demetrious Johnson.
After being knocked out by “Mighty Mouse” this past December, Benavidez bounced back with a guillotine choke submission over No. 8 Timothy Elliott at UFC 172. While the win was certainly impressive, it’s not enough to catapult Benavidez into a third title fight with Johnson.
In fact, as long as Johnson is champion, Benavidez probably won’t be fighting for a title anytime soon unless there are no other options.
I’d say give him fourth-ranked John Moraga. It would be a fun matchup stylistically between two of the best flyweights in the world and would help add some more clarity to a division that is still developing.
Max Holloway vs. Cole Miller
If you weren’t talking about Max Holloway before last night, you definitely are now. This 22-year-old prospect is as talented as they come at 145, and he isn’t even close to reaching his peak.
Holloway submitted Team Alpha Male’s Andre Fili in the third round of a back-and-forth battle to pick up his second victory in a row.
While he still has a ways to go before he’s fighting the likes of Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, Holloway should be matched up with an opponent with some name recognition and momentum to help catapult him up the rankings.
Cole Miller comes to mind. Miller is also riding a two-fight win streak and is someone that will press forward and make it exciting, which is exactly the type of style Holloway thrives on.
Andre Fili vs. Chas Skelly
Despite coming up short in his PPV debut, Andre Fili is still a promising young prospect in the featherweight division. He just needs more time to gain experience and develop his all-around game.
Fili ran through Jeremy Larsen in his UFC debut on short notice, but let’s be honest here—Larsen was never a UFC-quality fighter. Holloway was a big step up in competition for Fili, and Fili had his moments of success in the fight before getting caught in the end.
I know some aren’t big on the idea of matching two prospects up against each other so early in their careers, but I think a fight between Fili and Chas Skelly would be awesome right now.
Skelly is coming off a loss to Mirsad Bektic in his UFC debut, but he’s still considered one of the top prospects in the division. Team Alpha Male vs. Team Takedown sounds like a great idea to me.
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green
When Bobby Green pulled out of his scheduled fight with Jim Miller at UFC 172, I was bummed. No joke—I was honestly looking forward to that fight more than the main event.
Stuff happens in MMA, though. Miller ended up dominating Yancy Medeiros on extremely short notice with a first-round guillotine choke. No disrespect to Medeiros—he's a gamer for taking the fight, but he had absolutely no business being in there with Miller.
Let’s re-book Miller vs. Green pronto and watch the fireworks happen.
Yancy Medeiros vs. Justin Edwards
Medeiros is 0-2-1 in the UFC, but he should still get another chance due to taking the fight with Miller on short notice.
Justin Edwards is also in desperate need of a win. Let’s trim some fat here and match these two up in a Loser Leaves Town match.
Luke Rockhold vs. Jacare Souza II
I’m usually not a fan of non-title rematches, but this is really the only fight that makes sense for Rockhold right now. After disposing of Tim Boetsch, Rockhold is on the verge of a title shot, and his next opponent needs to be someone ranked above him.
With Lyoto Machida next in line to challenge Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva still on the shelf, that leaves Jacare Souza and Vitor Belfort.
The image of Belfort brutally knocking out Rockhold last May is still fresh in fans' minds. Souza seems to be the better fit right now.
The winner of that fight would definitely have to be considered next in line for a middleweight title shot.
Tim Boetsch vs. Yoel Romero
At this point, Tim Boetsch is essentially the gatekeeper of the middleweight division. That’s not an insult—it’s actually a compliment. You have to be pretty good to be a gatekeeper.
Boetsch will never be a world champion in the UFC, but he will continue to stay ranked in the Top 10-15. If you beat him, you are the real deal. If he beats you, you still lost to one of the toughest guys in the division.
Here’s the thing: I want to see how good Yoel Romero is. I think the guy is an absolute monster, and I want to see him tested against someone like “The Barbarian.”
I’ve seen Romero toss middleweights around like they are flyweights. I want to see if he can do that against Boetsch.
Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira
Yes, I know that Johnson is coming off a dominant win and Teixeira is coming off a loss, but who cares? This would be a blockbuster matchup between two of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division and a potential candidate for fight of the year.
After manhandling No. 4 Phil Davis with powerful striking, “Rumble” Johnson solidified himself as the next big thing at 205 pounds.
Fans now want to see “Rumble” in big fights, and Teixeira would be as big as it gets right now. Despite getting handled by Jones, the hard-hitting Brazilian is still one of the top contenders in the division and would provide an incredible matchup for someone like Johnson.
Phil Davis vs. Jimi Manuwa
In the weeks leading up to UFC 172, Dana White was openly critical of Phil Davis. White claimed that Davis wasn’t hungry enough and lacked the killer instinct to be a champion in this sport.
After watching Davis' performance last night, maybe Dana was right. I think Davis is an exceptional athlete, but it just doesn’t seem like he wants it bad enough.
He’s going to have to come out like a beast in his next fight to prove otherwise. Jimi Manuwa is also looking to climb back in the win column.
Let’s see who’s hungrier.
UFC Light Heavyweight Title: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson II
I said it before and I will say it again: Jon Jones did not beat Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165. Jones lost that fight, and the judges saved him.
However, after watching the champion brutalize and dominate Teixeira in the fashion that he did, I don’t see “Bones” letting the Swede get the better of him again. This is the rematch that everyone wants to see, and I think this time Jones will put a stamp on Gustafsson when it’s all said and done.
I’m not exactly the biggest Jon Jones fan, but there is nobody in this sport more talented than the UFC light heavyweight champion. It pains me to say it, but I don’t see anyone taking that belt away from him for a very long time.