UFC 109 Winners: What's Next?
Fans and writers alike are left speechless by the dominant attack of Chael Sonnen. As he's done in many past performances, Sonnen showcased his relentless pace, control, and ground-and-pound, controlling Nate Marquardt to earn a unanimous decision victory.
In what was supposed to be a walk in the park for Marquardt, Sonnen's performance stole the next contender status, and he will face the winner of Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
As an underdog, he has won two consecutive fights against some very tough competition; can Sonnen do it again?
Sonnen's next fight is a lock, let's see where the rest of the main card winners should go from here.
Since Sonnen is out of this edition of What's Next? , Mac Danzig will take his place. Heading into his fight with Justin Buchholz, the former TUF winner was in a desperate need of victory. In fact, his very job depended on it.
In a close match, Danzig was quicker on the take, out-working Buchholz for a better part of two rounds, earning the unanimous decision.
We won't be seeing Danzig against the top of the division anytime soon, but the UFC shouldn't baby his contract anymore. A fight against Ronnys Torres will give him a close match, as well as offer him someone ranked relatively the same.
Both are skilled grapplers with improved hands, and stylistically, are about even. Their performances at UFC 109 might ensure an exciting fight, plus this fight could be used to round out an Ultimate Fight card.
Looking for an opponent for Matt Serra is an enigma in itself. Since his victory over Ivan Menjivar in 2004, Serra has only competed in one fight per year. With this fight taking place in early 2010, let's hope that the trend breaks this year.
In what appeared to be another "loser is gone" type of fight, Serra wasted no time in securing his job with his impressive knockout over Frank Trigg halfway through the first round.
More than likely, Serra's next fight might take place sometime down the road, so his next opponent is even more difficult to choose.
At this point in his career, it's hard seeing Serra as a contender, so his next fight should be a compelling fight with an interesting set of styles, so his next fight should come against Marcus Davis.
Serra's jiu-jitsu and looming right hand against the technically crisp boxing and over-looked ground game of Davis. An intriguing set of styles from two of the division's more recognized fighters, sign me up.
In a division trying to rebuild itself during the time of Anderson Silva's reign, Demian Maia shot right up through the ranks before suffering a sudden knockout loss to Nate Marquardt.
He needed a win over Dan Miller to get back in the championship talks. Maia got this victory by surprisingly controlling the stand up war for a majority of the fight, as opposed to his world-class jiu-jitsu.
However, the victory wasn't distinguishable enough to put Maia back in line for a potential shot. He'll need an impressive victory over an even better foe this time around, so the UFC should pit him against Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Maia will need to be continually tested in his stand up if he wants to contend for the title, and Akiyama has the technique to challenge the "improved" hands of the Brazilian.
Additionally, Akiyama's third-degree judo black belt would pose a serious threat to Maia. Knowing that he won't be able to control the Japanese superstar in the clinch as effectively, we'll see if Maia can adapt his plans against skilled opponents.
Has Paulo Thiago finally earned his respect or what?
Since joining the UFC a year ago, Thiago has gone from Koscheck's stepping stone to potential contender, most recently with an impressive finish over Mike Swick.
There is no question that he still has work to do, losing the first round and taking some shots from the quick hands of Swick, but his composure once again earned Thiago the victory.
Temporarily dazed from a vicious right hand, Thiago countered Swick's oncoming flurry with a left hook, sending the AKA fighter to the mat.
Shortly thereafter, Thiago finally showed off his grappling skills with a very tight d'arce choke that sent Swick off to count the sheep.
His victory over Swick was huge and Thiago's next opponent should match the momentum that he has established, someone who can satisfy the Thiago doubters.
Thiago's next opponent should be another Thiago himself, Thiago Alves, whether Alves wins his next fight against Jon Fitch.
In what could be a potential No. 1 contender match, these two would offer a closely contested fight as they challenged each other's weaknesses. Alves with his superior striking, Thiago with his superior grappling.
Now, don't take this the wrong way, but the Randy Couture title talk needs to stop. I fully respect everything he has done, and still is doing for the sport, but the man known as Captain America hasn't justified a spot against the winner between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua just yet.
Winning a close fight against an unranked Brandon Vera, followed by a dominant performance over a way-past-his-prime Mark Coleman isn't exactly the type of credentials needed to fight for the gold.
So the UFC should pit him against someone in the top ten, someone who has proven to be a stiff challenge inside the division.
For a brief moment, the name of Rich Franklin comes to mind. While that would be a match many fans would love to see, the UFC should look elsewhere. If Couture wants to contend for another title, he should fight the promising potential of Thiago Silva.
It's really hard to see how this one would play out, and that's what makes it so exciting.
Would Couture's dirty boxing along the cage reign supreme? Or would Silva display his heavy hands or catch the Hall of Fame fighter with a tight submission?
It would be a great match up that would test the desire of both combatants, and if the UFC wants to push Couture in line for a title, a victory over a ranked opponent should be in order.
Check out Robert Gardner's article for his take on who the losers should face next.
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