Ricardo Lamas will be on the sidelines for a few months nursing a broken thumb, but The Bully is eyeing big things for his return.
The Chicago native injured his hand in a hard-fought victory over Hacran Dias via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 44 in San Antonio in June. While both fighters had their moments throughout the 15-minute tilt, Lamas took the edge on the judges' scorecards, picking up his fifth win in his past six outings.
While the MMA Masters-trained fighter wasn't satisfied with his performance against Dias, he was happy to put another notch into the win column.
"Looking back on that fight, I wasn't too happy with my performance," Lamas told Bleacher Report. "I always want to go out there and finish my fight and give the fans what they want to see. Unfortunately, I busted my thumb up pretty good like three minutes into the fight and ended up having to fight through that. Having that injury was making it difficult to hold him in certain positions and made it difficult to be aggressive with my striking. But given the circumstances, I was happy I was able to come away with the win."
The victory over Dias was another successful showing for the Team Top Notch representative, who has only been dealt one setback since dropping down to featherweight waters in 2011. That loss came at the hands of Jose Aldo when the two featherweights squared off for divisional supremacy at UFC 169 back in February, as the long-reigning champion retained his title with the unanimous-decision victory.
Yet, with the win over Aldo's Nova Uniao teammate in Texas, the Miami transplant has set his sights on making another run at the 145-pound crown. That said, Lamas recognizes the depth of the featherweight division and knows he will need a few more high-profile victories to secure another title shot. His injured hand is going to keep him on the shelf until the end of August, but the 32-year-old wants to face another top-ranked opponent upon his return.
The state of the featherweight upper tier is more hectic than it has ever been, and a handful of potential opponents would make sense for Lamas when he returns to action this fall. The most notable name on the list belongs to Frankie Edgar, the former lightweight champion who has picked up two wins in his three showings at 145 pounds, including back-to-back impressive outings over Charles Oliveira and BJ Penn.
While Lamas would be open to fighting Edgar later this year, he'd also settle for any opponent who would keep him a live player in the title picture.
"A fight with [Frankie] Edgar would be an exciting fight and one I'd definitely be open to," Lamas said. "It all depends on when I get healed up and whether or not he's booked for another fight already. It depends on a lot of factors, but I want to fight a top guy in my return. I'm waiting for my thumb to heal, and it will be at least until the end of August until I can train 100 percent again. It's kind of a waiting game right now to see what happens.
"The win over Dias kind of kept me where I'm at. I'm still up there in the Top Five of the featherweight division, and I think a couple of more wins over top-ranked opponents will definitely put me back in the talk for another title shot. I'm not sure who is going to be next because I'm not quite sure what the UFC wants to do, but a few more big wins will definitely put me back up there where I want to be."
While Lamas' next challenge is uncertain, the former WEC fighter is hoping to receive medical clearance at the end of August. If that time line holds up, he would love to be on the card for the UFC's debut event south of the border on November 15, when the Octagon will touch down in Mexico City for the first time for UFC 180.
The event will be a historic affair, and Lamas wants to be a part of the UFC's inaugural showing in Mexico.
"The best-case scenario is that I'm good to start training again at the end of August, and I'd really love to fight in Mexico on November 15," Lamas said. "That's what I'm looking at right now. I'm still training even though my hand is busted up. I may not be able to use my hand, but I can still put in work with every other part of my body.
"Getting the win over Dias was the first step toward building up another winning streak. That's what I want to do. And I want to be active now. The only reason I sat out as long as I did before was strictly for the title shot. If the title shot wasn't there, I would have kept fighting. I want to stay active, get at least one more fight in before the end of the year and keep the ball rolling."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.