UFC 175: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
On Saturday, Chris Weidman's first title fight against an opponent other than Anderson Silva let fans down.
Early on, Weidman was beating Lyoto Machida by moving forward patiently and mixing in takedowns. After seemingly dropping the first three rounds on the scorecards, Machida came out more aggressive in the fourth stanza and began turning things around.
Despite Machida's late push, Weidman was able to weather the storm. A takedown in the fifth round helped Weidman seal the win and defend his middleweight title for the second time in a row.
With another UFC fight card in the books, here are the bouts that should be next for Weidman, Machida and the rest of the UFC 175 competitors.
Matchup: Loser of Trevor Smith vs. Tor Troeng
Making his UFC debut on Saturday, Bubba Bush didn't get to log too much time inside the Octagon.
As he pressed forward early in the first round, Bush was cracked with a Kevin Casey counterpunch. Following the knockdown, Bush lasted only moments on the ground before being stopped with a series of elbows.
With a 0-1 record, Bush's next bout could determine whether he continues his UFC career. So, a bout with the loser of a July 19 matchup between Trevor Smith and Tor Troeng, either of which would have lost two in a row, seems logical.
Matchup: Caio Magalhaes
Casey has responded well to being released by the UFC following an April 2013 loss to Josh Samman.
With three straight wins under the RFA banner, Casey earned his way back to the Octagon on Saturday. Facing Bush, Casey wasted no time, scoring a knockdown with a step-back counter in the opening exchange and ending things with some nasty elbows on the ground.
Another one for the bad guys. Team Sonnen alumnist Kevin Casey just made Bubba Bush look like a white belt, nearly killed the man.— Word On The Street (@TheAntJimmyShow) July 5, 2014
The strong performance should earn Casey a big step up in competition. He could match up well with Magalhaes, who has a few UFC wins under his belt.
Matchup: None (Released)
Following a loss to Ricardo Abreu during The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 quarterfinals, Guilherme Vasconcelos made his official UFC debut on Saturday.
The Brazilian came up short in the biggest fight of his MMA career, though. Unable to take Luke Zachrich to the ground, Vasconcelos was forced to stand with a better striker, and things did not end up going well for him.
Guilherme Vasconcelos looks like he was out all night celebrating #BRA win.. looks horrible..— Joey Oddessa (@MMAOdds) July 5, 2014
With a decision loss to Zachrich, who had a 0-1 UFC record heading into the weekend, Vasconcelos is unlikely to get another shot inside the Octagon.
Matchup: Winner of Tom Watson vs. Sam Alvey
Following a loss to Magalhaes in his UFC debut, Zachrich needed a win at UFC 175 to keep his UFC career going.
Able to shut down a few Vasconcelos takedown attempts, Zachrich kept the fight where he wanted. The American picked his shots and cruised to a decision victory and his first UFC win.
Luke Zachrich nearly retired a year ago but decided to give it one more go to make it to the UFC. Now he has a UFC win. #UFC175— UFCONFOX (@UFCONFOX) July 5, 2014
He can now look to begin his climb up the middleweight ladder. A logical step up would be the winner of an August 16 bout between Tom Watson and Sam Alvey.
Matchup: Vaughan Lee
George Roop has had some trouble gaining momentum inside the Octagon. The towering bantamweight has not won three fights in a row since April 2008.
Opposite UFC newcomer Rob Font, Roop had a good opportunity to pick up a second straight victory on Saturday. Instead, Roop ate a huge right hand and suffered a knockout loss in the opening round.
Thnx everybody for your support. Sometimes some things go wrong so that we can grow strong. pic.twitter.com/HCUMGll6Yt— George Roop (@GeorgeRoop) July 6, 2014
With losses in two of his past three outings, Roop might consider a return to the featherweight division. If he does remain at 135 pounds, a bout with Vaughan Lee is a possibility.
Matchup: Sergio Pettis
Font began his UFC career like every newcomer hopes to.
Less than three minutes into his first bout inside the Octagon, he blasted Roop with a right hand. The punch gave Font his second consecutive opening-round knockout win.
Rob Font calls out Sergio Pettis in his post-fight scrum. Says it would be a better win than George Roop. This guy gets it.— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) July 6, 2014
An entertaining striker with knockout power, Font would be a fun matchup for Sergio Pettis. Not enough UFC fighters call their own shots, so Font should be rewarded with the matchup he wants and deserves.
Matchup: None (Released)
Chris Camozzi finished 2013 with two tough matchups, Ronaldo Souza and Lorenz Larkin. However, Bruno Santos was a very winnable matchup for the TUF veteran on Saturday.
In a disappointing performance, Camozzi spent far too much time underneath Santos, though. Allowing four takedowns over the final two rounds, Camozzi fell in a split decision.
My fault for getting taken down. Hard to fight when someone just wants to hold on. Wish I could have given you fans a better show— Chris Camozzi (@ChrisCamozzi) July 6, 2014
While the UFC brass will sometimes give fighters another chance when their third straight loss comes in a controversial decision, the scorecards weren't all that questionable in this matchup. While he may not have done much from the top position, Santos was considered the winner by most MMA media, according to MMADecisions.com.
I expect Camozzi will be released. However, at 27 years old, he has time to work his way back to the Octagon again.
Matchup: Winner of Cathal Pendred vs. Mike King
With a loss to Krzysztof Jotko in his UFC debut, Santos was probably battling for his UFC career on Saturday.
As a result, he looked more like a fighter hoping to get his hand raised than one trying to leave a lasting impression. The Brazilian maintained the top position for more than six minutes, which was enough to earn him a decision win despite not being very active on the ground.
Someone get ahold of Snuggie to sponsor Bruno santos ..he will hug the heck out of you for 15-25mins— Brian Rogers (@BRogthePredator) July 6, 2014
Because Santos didn't leave many fans wanting to see him fight again, it's unlikely he'll see a big step up in competition. Instead, he could meet the winner of a July 19 bout between Cathal Pendred and Mike King.
Matchup: Sean Spencer
Ildemar Alcantara has thrived and failed on the ground, but all his fights inside the Octagon have come down to grappling.
On Saturday, he was shut down on the canvas by Kenny Robertson. The Brazilian spent more than seven minutes underneath Robertson and fell 30-26 on all three scorecards.
As Alcantara looks to get back on track, a bout with Sean Spencer makes sense right now.
Matchup: Kiichi Kunimoto
Robertson has things rolling in the right direction.
At UFC 175, he took a very solid grappler to the ground and beat him there decisively. Alcantara had trouble threatening Robertson with anything from the bottom position and was beaten by a wide margin on the scorecards.
Coming off a submission win over Daniel Sarafian, Kiichi Kunimoto could provide Robertson with a better test on the canvas.
Matchup: Chris Holdsworth
Against Urijah Faber, Alex Caceres faced the biggest test of his MMA career on Saturday.
Bruce Leeroy failed to come away with the upset win. However, after lasting until the third round before being submitted, Caceres gained some valuable experience at 26 years old.
Alex Caceres is so much better than I ever thought Alex Caceres could be.— Brent Brookhouse (@brentbrookhouse) July 6, 2014
Although the TUF veteran didn't come close to beating Faber, he looked as good as most non-champions have against The California Kid. He'll see a step down in competition, but it shouldn't be long before Caceres gets another shot at an elite bantamweight.
While he was ultimately submitted by the former WEC champion, Caceres showed he can hang with some of the best 135-pound grapplers in the world. So, he'd be a good test for up-and-coming Faber teammate Chris Holdsworth.
Matchup: Dominick Cruz
Faber continues to get it done in non-championship bouts.
At UFC 175, he put on a workmanlike performance in a no-win matchup. The California Kid took care of business against Caceres, submitting the rising bantamweight in the third stanza.
If Dominick Cruz finds a way to remain healthy, he's eventually going to meet Faber in a rubber match. So, I figure I'll eventually be right if I keep predicting it's going to happen.
Matchup: Loser of Hugo Viana vs. Aljamain Sterling
Marcus Brimage failed to pick up a win in his bantamweight debut, but The Bama Beast looked good at 135 pounds.
While he landed more significant strikes than opponent Russell Doane, he surrendered more takedowns and spent far more time in the bottom position. Although most MMA media scored the bout in his favor, according to MMADecisions.com, Brimage was named the loser on two official scorecards.
I don't expect Brimage to return to featherweight following this performance, so a matchup with the loser of a July 16 bout between Hugo Viana and Aljamain Sterling is a possibility.
Matchup: Mitch Gagnon
While Doane wasn't dominant on Saturday, he did enough to remain undefeated inside the Octagon.
The Hawaiian landed only 33 percent of both his significant strikes and takedowns. However, four minutes of top control appeared to make the difference for him on the scorecards.
Not my most exciting fight, but @Brim205 is a beast so I did what I could. Let's go eat brotha!!— russell doane (@RussellDoane135) July 6, 2014
A more skilled grappler than Brimage, Mitch Gagnon could force Doane to show some improvement in his striking.
Matchup: Andrew Craig
Coming off a knockout win over Ronny Markes, Thiago Santos was lined up for an exciting striking matchup with Uriah Hall.
While Santos held his own, actually landing more significant strikes, Hall controlled the center of the Octagon and landed the more meaningful blows. Although Hall was fighting with a badly broken toe, Santos was unable to take advantage, as the Jamaican's injury did not seem to impact his movement much at all.
It's back to the drawing board for Santos, who could meet Andrew Craig in his next outing.
Matchup: Winner of Derek Brunson vs. Lorenz Larkin
The UFC could have released Hall following his 0-2 start inside the Octagon, but it appears the promotion made the right decision to keep him around.
Hall silenced a lot of critics on Saturday. Previously thought to be more athlete than fighter, he battled through a nasty toe injury to defeat Santos on the scorecards.
No matter the outcome, Hall should now meet the winner of an August 2 bout between Derek Brunson and Lorenz Larkin. Brunson would test Hall's takedown defense, while Larkin would provide Hall with another exciting striking match.
Matchup: Loser of Miesha Tate vs. Rin Nakai
Widely regarded as one of the tougher fighters in the women's bantamweight division, Alexis Davis was simply steamrolled on Saturday.
Davis met Ronda Rousey in the center of the Octagon and ate a big right hand. Before she knew what hit her, Davis was slammed to the canvas and hit with a few follow-up punches that put her away. It was one of the worst beatdowns in recent UFC history, and it occurred in a championship bout.
Alexis Davis hadn't been finished in about 5 1/2 years heading into the fight with Ronda Rousey. 0:16.— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) July 6, 2014
Although Davis won't be fighting for the belt again anytime soon, she's still among the best in the 135-pound class. A bout with the loser of a September 20 matchup between Miesha Tate and Rin Nakai would give her a chance to prove that.
Matchup: Cat Zingano
Rousey continues to assert her dominance in the women's bantamweight division.
At UFC 175, she made No. 2 contender Davis look like a fighter who didn't belong in the Octagon. Already the best grappler in the weight class, Rousey is quickly developing into one of the scarier 135-pound female strikers.
Ronda Rousey defeats Alexis Davis via first round TKO after 16 seconds in the first round! pic.twitter.com/pbuiPUjlw3— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 6, 2014
She might take a warm-up fight, but Cat Zingano should be next in line to challenge Rousey. If Zingano does take another fight before meeting the champion since she's been out of action for 15 months, it would give Rousey time to tend to some lingering injuries.
Matchup: Winner of Michael Bisping vs. Cung Le
Machida had a chance to become the third multidivision champion in UFC history on Saturday. Although he came up short, he showed he does have a realistic chance of owning UFC gold again.
A little too defensive early on, Machida gave away the first three rounds. When he came out with more urgency, he started causing problems for Weidman in the fourth round. It was too little, too late, but Machida's late rally should give him a somewhat quick path to a rematch.
Tonight my friend @lyotomachidafw made me very proud. Fought to the very end like a Swordless Samurai with an indomitable spirit!— Rener Gracie (@RenerGracie) July 6, 2014
I think two impressive wins could put Machida back into the conversation for another title shot. He could get started with an interesting striking matchup with the winner of an August 23 bout between Michael Bisping and Cung Le.
Matchup: Vitor Belfort
Now that he's beaten somebody other than Anderson Silva in a bout for a UFC championship, Weidman's title reign seems more real. The Silva aura is no longer hanging over him, and he can focus on becoming one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in MMA.
It wasn't flawless, but Weidman needed to be tested at some point. He faced some adversity in the later rounds, but he survived and took a clear decision win on the scorecards.
UFC President Dana White appears to like Vitor Belfort as Weidman's next title challenger. As long as he can pass all his drug tests, Belfort is deserving.