UFC on Versus 1 Winners: What's Next?
When Zuffa renegotiated their WEC deal with the Versus Network, part of the arrangement was for the UFC to air two live events on the channel over the course of 2010.
UFC president Dana White wasted no time in putting together an outstanding card in Broomfield, Colo. He filled the night with a plethora of fan favorites and knockout-inducing wars.
Unfortunately as time went on, stars like Anthony Johnson, Spencer Fisher, and Sean Sherk were forced from the card due to various injuries, so the full potential of the card was quickly diminished.
Once again, the UFC did what they could to fill the voids. Once again, the UFC put on a fantastic show for the fans, especially for it being a free televised event.
How can the fickle fans really complain?
As expected by many, the main card featured no decisions or submissions whatsoever. All four fights ended in some sort of knockout, although some were stranger than others.
Let's take a look at where the knockout artists should go next in their respective careers.
The man known as "Legionarius" wasn't given much of a chance heading into his bout with the much larger James Irvin. His "lackluster" performance against Thales Leites was one of the reasons.
Irvin, being a huge light-heavyweight to begin with, was also making his middleweight debut. People thought that Irvin could also bring his explosive power to the 185-pound division and wreck shop.
Unfortunately for Irvin, he looked anemic at the weigh-ins; looking like an Ethiopian child that you would see on a church adoption commercial.
Sakara, who had already fought at middleweight three times prior to this fight, took advantage of Irvin's lack of energy.
He used his quickness to get past Irvin's range to land quick combinations and then back out again before Irvin could fire off any sort of counter strike.
After what initially appeared to be an eye poke by Sakara, Irvin went reeling backwards and dropped to his knees.
But after several replays, it appeared that the left hook by Sakara was legit, and that Irvin's back-pedaling was the result of a to-be-announced eye injury.
It's still tough to judge where Sakara sits in the middleweight division, despite being 3-1. His next opponent should be someone who is in a similar position, someone like C.B. Dolloway.
Both fighters have shown the type of potential to be a contender of the division, but not enough for the wow factor needed to contend. They haven't shown enough to place themselves in the top heap of the division.
A fight between Alessio Sakara and C.B. Dolloway would be the perfect diving board to spring the winner into the deep end of the middleweight pool.
A common thought in the MMA world is that Cheick Kongo will never belong at the top of the heavyweight division until he can shore up his wrestling. Thus the recent step back in competition.
Coming off of two devastating losses to two of the division's top contenders forced Kongo to the bottom of the top 10. It forced Kongo to battle the likes of Paul Buentello, which is actually a blessing in disguise for him and the UFC big wigs.
Coloradans saw the Cheick Kongo of old: backing opponents up with his insane reach before ducking under a punch for a takedown.
Kongo battered Buentello through three rounds with a nice mix of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. Although, one of the knees was completely illegal as Buentello had a hand and a knee down on the mat.
After suffering a broken pinky finger in the first round, as well as the never-ending attack of Kongo, Buentello tapped in the third round due to what appeared to be a Charley Horse.
Although any fan knew that the beating Buentello took throughout the fight would of made just about anybody tap after awhile.
The French-born fighter looked impressive against the always-game Buentello, but not enough to place him back in the mix at heavyweight. Until Kongo proves otherwise, he will always be the UFC heavyweight gate-keeper.
His next opponent should be the winner between Mirko "Cro Cop" and Pat Barry. All three fighters are relatively in the same position. They all have big wins, but nobody is considering them a legitimate threat in the division.
Yes, Kongo has already fought "Cro Cop," and he won the fight handily, but that fight took place three years ago. Since both fighters are sitting at the same level, a rematch wouldn't be too atrocious.
Just like with "Cro Cop," Kongo battling Barry would put two skilled kickboxers against each other in the cage for what is sure to be a "knockout of the night" type of performance.
Junior dos Santos
The UFC's heavyweight division keeps log-jamming it up as Junior dos Santos came in and wrecked shop over former contender Gabriel Gonzaga.
Dos Santos once again proved that his speed is too much too handle when combined with his lethal hands. Considering that Gonzaga began to telegraph his kicks, fans knew that his lights going out was only a matter of time.
Sure enough, Gonzaga threw a lazy body kick with his hands down and dos Santos made him pay with a left hook that sent "Napao" dazed onto his back.
After recovering slightly, Gonzaga found himself in even more danger as dos Santos rained down some heavy strikes from the feet.
After a few blows had connected to the face, Gonzaga's lights went out as the back of his head had nowhere to go, thudding as it bounced off of the mat.
So, there is now five UFC opponents down for dos Santos, and five more knockout victories added onto his resume. Normally, this would be sufficient enough to have granted dos Santos the next title shot.
You have to remember though, to incorrectly quote the great Bob Marley:
"We're log-jamming. To think that the lack of heavyweight contenders were thing of the past. We're log-jamming. And I hope this log-jam is gonna last."
Horrible, I know, but it's true.
Dana White has already promised the winner of this weekend's heavyweight clash between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin the next crack at Brock Lesnar's heavyweight strap, so dos Santos is just going to have to keep on trekking.
Even if the winner between Carwin and Mir comes out injured, heavyweight workhorse, Cain Velasquez will get the next crack at the belt.
It is in my opinion that whoever wins between Carwin and Mir will be able to readily prepare themselves for their showdown with Lesnar in time for the fight in July.
If this is the case, the UFC can't have their two hottest heavyweight prospects on standby while Lesnar fights Mir or Carwin. So the only logical solution would be to pit them against each other for the next shot at the belt.
Junior dos Santos' next fight should come against Cain Velasquez in what will be the most hyped up three-round fight in the history of the company.
Although both men are surely deserving of a title shot, this fight would really determine who the division's future long-standing champion will be.
The word hype can be described as to intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims, methods, etc.
In the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, the word hype is generally used to say a certain fighter's skills have been somewhat exaggerated.
Now the question is, after last night's dominating performance over Brandon Vera, can fans still say that Jon "Bones" Jones is all hype, or is he the real deal?
It's safe to assume that with the way he handled Vera with relative ease, that Jones has surpassed the hype and is now a legitimate contender inside the light-heavyweight division.
Jones passed his last two "tests" with flying colors: tossing Matt Hamill around like a rag doll and making Vera quit due to one of the nastiest elbows witnessed in the sport.
Against Vera, who is also quite skilled at Greco-Roman wrestling, Jones once again made his takedowns look remarkably easy, taking Vera down in less than 10 seconds.
Staying patient with his game plan, Jones avoided any submission attempt by Vera as he landed some heavy shots. But after a slight opening presented itself, Vera pushed Jones back with his legs and got the fight standing once again.
After testing the waters, the two found themselves clinched once again, exchanging a couple of knees before Jones muscled Vera onto his back again.
After they battled for position for a minute, the boo birds began to sing as Vera landed an illegal up kick on the chin of Jones.
After a point was deducted from Vera, "Bones" was given a moment to recover before referee Herb Dean placed the two back into the same position.
Vera was lucky that Herb Dean didn't take another point away as he landed yet another illegal upkick on Jones. The two battled on, so Dean let them do so without consequence to Vera.
With less than two minutes left in the first round, Jones landed a brutal elbow with a sickening thud. A type of skull-cracking thud that could make an iron stomach turn for the worst.
The cheek bone of Vera shattered in three separate places after said elbow, causing him to roll over into submission as Jones rained down his heavy hands until Herb Dean stepped in and stopped the fight.
So the question is, can fans really say that Jones is all hype?
As of right now, there is no way they can. He has been rolling through every single opponent with ease and is virtually undefeated. Jones deserves a big step up in competition with his next fight.
The best fighter available to test Jones' newfound contender status would be Thiago Silva.
A fight against Silva would be a huge step up in competition and a great test for Jones' skills. Plus, with the on-again, off-again performances of Vera, a fight against the consistent Silva would be huge for Jones' career should he win.
Check out Robert Gardner's article for his take on who the losers should fight next .
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