UFC 117: Anderson Silva Vs. Chael Sonnen — What Happens Next?
Without exaggeration, last night's main event was one of the most spectacular main events in the history of MMA.
By this point, most fans have probably already read a dozen recaps of the dramatic action, of how Sonnen backed up his trash talk, and how Silva found a way to win.
Looking forward though, what's next for the fighters who fought at UFC 117?
Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen
In winning, Silva furthered his legacy for finally having to overcome some serious adversity.
Before the fight, most people thought that Sonnen would fade away after getting knocked out or easily submitted by Silva. But because the fight played out as it did, Sonnen's reputation has only been enhanced. All the trash talk turned out to be worth it, and Sonnen has probably earned himself a raise and some staying power in the UFC, which is crazy considering only last year it seemed he would be cut if he had lost to Yushin Okami.
At this point in time, an immediate rematch seems like the best possible option for the UFC.
The UFC could try to build towards a rematch, but because of the way the whole fight went down, from the insane trash talk, to the in-fight drama, this one is begging for a sequel.
Fitch has been the second-best welterweight in the world for the past three years, and he cemented that status with authority last night.
If title shots are awarded purely on merit, Fitch has done more than enough to earn a second crack at Georges St. Pierre's belt. But even if he doesn't get a shot immediately, Fitch deserves far more credit than he usually gets from the fans.
Fitch has shown that he's a class above most of the people in the welterweight division. There are two main reasons why Fitch doesn't get enough credit.
First among reasons is that his style doesn't appeal to fans who like to see more flashy action. What Fitch does, is take people right out of their game, and control and beat them up, all the while staying classy and respectful. This isn't enough for a lot of fans.
The second reason is that when people see Fitch, they can't shake the impressions that were formed when St. Pierre dominated him for five rounds.
If the ability to not get dominated by St. Pierre over five rounds is the bar that fighters need to jump over to get respect, then nearly everybody will fail. Fitch may not have been able to beat St. Pierre, but he can probably beat anybody else in the division, and people should start recognizing him for the pound-for-pound quality fighter that he is.
Alves severely damaged his standing in the UFC when he missed weight, and then could not even cut the final half pound in a two hour period.
This is the second time Alves has missed weight, and on another occasion, he tested positive for a banned diuretic, which he used to help himself cut weight.
At this point in time, the UFC management, from the Fertitas on down have lost patience with Alves's weight cutting issues.
As Dana White pointed out last night at the post-fight press conference, missing weight is potentially damaging to the UFC business, especially when it concerns a possible title contender. Had Alves beaten Fitch, it would have been hard to put him into a title fight having missed weight, and if he missed weight for a title fight, then he'd cause even bigger problems.
Alves seemed obsessed with being a gigantic welterweight, and his obsession may have cost him any possible size advantage he could ever have.
At this point, the UFC brass have seen enough, and want Alves to move up to 185 pounds.
While Alves may still be able to find some success at 185 pounds, he would lose any potential size advantage, and he'd be one of the shorter guys in the division, which is potentially disastrous for a guy who struggles to get past long jabs like of St. Pierre's.
The UFC management loves Matt Hughes to death, because he has been one of the most loyal fighters in company history, along with Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin.
The UFC wants to keep Hughes around, and eventually have him go out on a high note.
Although Dana White won't say it outright, Hughes's title contender days are over.
Instead of fighting contenders, Hughes will take some time off to enjoy hunting season, and will likely come back early next year in some other interesting, but winnable fight. A third fight with Dennis Hallman may be in the cards.
Many thought that Almeida had the recipe to beat Hughes, but Almeida got careless with his standup, and then Hughes capitalized with a great submission.
It's back to the drawing board for Almeida, and he's been knocked out of contendership for now, but plenty of interesting fights remain for him. I wouldn't mind seeing him fight somebody like Mike Swick, but anybody in the middle of the division should suffice.
In case you didn't get the memo, let me state it in clear terms: Clay Guida is not a contender.
Guida is a sturdy guy who can be competitive against anybody, but won't beat the true elites of the division, due to his lack of dynamic offense, and striking offense in particular.
Still, he'll get some good wins, and otherwise will be a gatekeeper to the stars like he was for Diego Sanchez.
I favor a fight with Takanori Gomi, considering they're on a similar schedule right now, and both fit in roughly the same part of the division.
Junior Dos Santos
Dos Santos's win will grant him a title shot opposite the winner of the upcoming title fight between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez.
Dos Santos showed some good takedown defense against Roy Nelson, but after watching the fight, I'm guessing that he'll have trouble staying vertical against Velasquez or Lesnar, and may not be as far ahead of Velasquez in the striking department as we once imagined.
That said, it's hard to say that he hasn't earned his title shot given the top level heavyweights he's cast aside in his short UFC tenure.
We know that Nelson has the skills of a relatively elite fighter, but he doesn't have the physical abilities to compete with the very best heavyweights.
Many people would love to see Nelson drop down to 205 pounds, where he have to be in better shape, and wouldn't be quite so small for the division. I personally think his proper division is probably 185 pounds, but he's never ever going to get there, largely due to his own stubbornness.
I highly doubt that Nelson is going to lose weight, as he seems to have rationalized his size as being something natural, rather than the burden that it is in a professional sport like MMA.
Still, Nelson is obviously good enough to beat some guys in the heavyweight division, so he'll stick around there, and will still beat a lot of middle to upper level heavyweights.
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