Understandably, most were excited about the news that Eddie Alvarez had signed with the UFC and will meet Donald Cerrone at UFC 178 on September 27, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com. Lightweight contender Bobby Green probably wasn't among those pleased, though.
With Alvarez being paired up against Cerrone, Green is left without a scheduled bout. Green was originally booked to meet Jorge Masvidal at UFC 178, but he later had his adversary switched to Cerrone only to see that matchup fall apart with the UFC snatching up the former Bellator MMA lightweight champion.
Having won his first four UFC fights and eight in a row overall, Green has earned a bout with another Top 10 lightweight contender. A matchup with Cerrone gave him that, but UFC matchmakers will now have to find another noteworthy combatant to stand across the Octagon from Green.
Luckily, in a stacked 155-pound class, options are abundant for the Strikeforce veteran.
Currently, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson are the Top 10 lightweights available to be booked. However, the winner of an August 23 bout between Benson Henderson and Rafael dos Anjos will also soon be freed up. Additionally, inactive contenders TJ Grant and Nate Diaz are out there and could soon be looking for fights.
Because he was ready to go next month, Green will probably be looking for a quick turnaround. For that reason, some of the potential opponents mentioned above can probably be eliminated right away.
Nurmagomedov injured his knee during July and is expected to be out of action until 2015. Similarly, Johnson underwent shoulder surgery recently and isn't likely to be back inside the Octagon very soon as he recovers. Furthermore, Diaz has been disputing his contract, and little progress has been made toward him returning to competition.
Michael Johnson had shoulder surgery 2 weeks ago and is hoping to be back by end of '14.— UFC Tonight (@UFCTonight) August 20, 2014
While Grant has had a long road back from a concussion, he has said he hopes to return in the coming months, per Dann Stupp of MMA Junkie. The winner of the UFC Fight Night 49 main event between Henderson and Dos Anjos would also be a very appropriate foe for Green as he looks to climb the lightweight rankings.
It has been 15 months since Grant last competed, so he could probably use a tuneup bout before competing against somebody like Green. For that reason, via process of elimination, I expect Green to meet the winner of Saturday's contest between Henderson and Dos Anjos, assuming that person emerges healthy.
Although Green would be a slight step down for either man, he might end up being the best option out there for them as well.
Whom should Green fight now?
With two losses to 155-pound champion Anthony Pettis, Henderson won't be getting a title shot any time soon. Should he upset Henderson, Dos Anjos will probably still need another win or two before getting a title shot, as it would appear likely Cerrone and Alvarez will be battling to be next in line for the winner of an upcoming title fight between Pettis and Gilbert Melendez.
Green had some tough luck in losing his bout with Cerrone, but the disappointment might prove to be worth it should it result in a bout with a former titleholder like Henderson.