UFC 127: What To Do With the Winners and Losers

Bill JacksonAnalyst IMarch 2, 2011

UFC 127: What To Do With the Winners and Losers

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    With another major UFC event in the books, it is time to look to the future.

    UFC 127 had its fair share of upsets, controversy, and debatable decisions. But, all-in-all, it has to be considered a definite success for the promotion.

    The question to ask now is: what's next for the fighters?

    One easy next step to answer is for the main event fighters, B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch, who battled to a disputed draw. Their next fight should be against each other, it is the only move that makes sense.

    I had Fitch winning 29-27, but I'm sure he would want to leave no doubt as to who should have got the nod.

    For the rest of the fighters on the card, the next step isn't such a simple answer. But, I think I have a few good ideas for what should be in the cards.

    Read on and tell me what you think.

Mark Hunt

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    Pride and K-1 veteran Mark Hunt got his first win in the octagon with a second-round walk-off knockout of Chris Tuchscherer, for which he was awarded a $75,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night.

    Obviously, Tuchscherer isn't one of the better heavyweights in the UFC, but he is tough and a win is a win.

    Hunt is never going to be a contender, but he does make exciting fights, especially when someone is willing to stand up with him. The UFC should keep this in mind when choosing his next opponent.

    The way I see it, the UFC can go two ways with Hunt. On one hand, they can use what credibility Hunt has attained from this knockout and throw him to someone they have slightly bigger plans for, like Pat Barry.

    Barry had that epic battle with former Hunt rival Mirko Cro Cop, but came up short against the MMA legend. Why not pit him against a man that bested Cro Cop back in Pride? The fight would surely be an entertaining stand-up war between two powerful, stocky heavyweights with good chins.

    On the other hand, Hunt does have some loyal old-school fans and the UFC could capitalize on that by giving him a fight that he would have a slightly better chance of winning against someone like Joey Beltran.

    Beltran has shown a willingness to stand and bang with anyone, even if he is outgunned against better strikers.

    Or, Hunt could represent a small step up for rising, charismatic newcomer Matt Mitrione.

    Whichever direction the UFC chooses, Hunt is in a good place to make some interesting undercard fights.

Alexander Gustafsson

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    The once-beaten Swede Alexander Gustafsson looked impressive again on Saturday with a first-round submission of James Te-Huna. Gustafsson was in some trouble early on, but showed a lot of poise to slowly improve his position and sink in the fight-ending rear-naked choke.

    The win upped his record to 3-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to highly-touted Phil Davis at UFC 112.

    Gustafsson is only 24-years-old and appears to have an immense amount of potential, so I think the UFC would be smart to take their time with him.

    At UFC 128, Luiz Cane and Eliot Marshall battle to remain relevant at light heavyweight. I think the winner of that bout would make a perfect next opponent for Gustafsson.

    Despite losing his last two in a row, Cane is a very dangerous striker and should not be underestimated. But, Gustafsson has already beat Cyrille Diabate, who gave Cane his last loss.

    Marshall has won three in a row, but all outside of the UFC. He would also make a decent test for Gustafsson.

    Also, if Steve Cantwell can get a win this week, he would make an intriguing opponent.

Ross Pearson

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    TUF winner Ross Pearson made a successful comeback following his first loss in the UFC by out-striking veteran Spencer Fisher for three rounds.

    Pearson is a talented boxer in arguably the deepest division in the UFC, lightweight, so finding an entertaining matchup for him really is not hard.

    To me, the fight that makes the most sense for Pearson's next outing is against another experienced veteran striker, Yves Edwards.

    Edwards is coming off of two straight UFC wins, most recently a second-round submission of Cody McKenzie in January.

    Pearson is relatively young, so there is no need to rush him along too quickly. Edwards would make sense to get more experience under the young Brit's belt.

    However, if the UFC wanted to keep testing Pearson, I don't believe former champ Sean Sherk has an opponent for his next fight, and that matchup would surely tell us quite a bit about where both fighters are at the moment.

Kyle Noke

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    Australian Kyle Noke made it three in a row in the UFC with a quick submission win over Chris Camozzi.

    It's always interesting when a loser on a season of The Ultimate Fighter looks more impressive than the winner, and that seems to be the case with Noke.

    While it was an impressive performance, Camozzi is far from world class, so it is hard to say where Noke is currently at. But, a match with former TUF contestant Tom Lawlor would undoubtedly tell us a lot.

    Lawlor is coming off a three-round unanimous decision win over Patrick Cote at UFC 121, and as far as I know, does not have a future opponent. A meeting with Noke would make sense for both fighters.

    Too bad Cote is gone, because that would make a lot of sense as well.

Brian Ebersole

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    After Carlos Condit was forced out of a bout with Chris Lytle on the main card of UFC 127, largely unknown veteran Brian Ebersole was brought in as a late replacement to fight Lytle.

    Though over a 3-1 underdog, Ebersole managed to upset Lytle, who many were considering a contender after winning four straight.

    Figuring what's next for Ebersole is a little tricky. It is hard to say if the win came more because of his performance, or because of how poorly Lytle fought. Nonetheless, it is a huge win for the journeyman and the UFC will give him another opportunity to prove his worth.

    Brian Foster and Sean Pierson fight each other at UFC 129, and the winner of that fight seems like a perfect fit for Ebersole's second UFC appearance.

    Pierson is coming off of a successful UFC debut against Matt Riddle, while Foster has won his last two, upping his UFC record to 3-2.

    Whoever he fights, fans are not going to easily forget the man doing cartwheel kicks with an arrow shaved into his chest.

Chris Lytle

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    Chris Lytle went from facing a top contender in a match with title implications, to facing a journeyman few had ever heard of in Brian Ebersole, and ended up looking worse than ever in his career, dropping a unanimous decision.

    Reports of a secret knee surgery surfaced after the bout, with a disappointed Lytle even contemplating retirement. Though, I have a hard time believing someone like Lytle would go out on such a sour note.

    One opponent I would like to see him face before he does go is Ricardo Almeida. It would be a nice test to see how good Lytle's grappling is, and they are both well-liked veterans of the game.

    Almeida has an upcoming bout with Mike Pyle, but whether he wins or loses, he would still make sense as an opponent for Lytle.

    If Lytle does want to leave the game, a win over Almeida would be a nice exit.

Dennis Siver

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    German-based Dennis Siver pulled off the biggest upset on Saturday night by getting the better of top-contender George Sotiropoulos over three rounds.

    Before the bout, many complained that Sotiropoulos deserved a higher profile opponent, but Siver proved his worth by twice dropping him with left hooks and looking about as easy to takedown as a brick house.

    The win keeps Sotiropoulos out of the title picture for the time being, but it does not automatically place Siver there. It is a massive win, but he will need to do more to get where he wants.

    I think a perfect next opponent for Siver is newly acquired WEC lightweight Donald Cerrone.

    Cerrone is a tall, well-rounded veteran at this point, having fought in the WEC 10 times. Whether a fight stays on the feet or goes to the ground, Cerrone is always game.

    A match between Cerrone and Siver could only produce action and the winner would be in a good place for a big fight.

George Sotiropoulos

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    With many figuring George Sotiropoulos to be fighting for the title by year's end, the No. 1 fighter from Australia was stunned by the strength and power of Dennis Siver, losing for the first time in the UFC by unanimous decision.

    Now begins the road back toward the top, and really, it could not come at a better time.

    Sotiropoulos made his way into the UFC by taking part in the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter. The two favorites going into the season were Sotiropoulos and eventual winner Mac Danzig. With Danzig already in the finals, Sotiropoulos was expected to roll right through Timmy Speer in the semi-finals and meet Danzig in the finale.

    However, Sotiropoulos suffered a finger poke to the eye, which he would attempt to quickly brush off after a pause and continue fighting with one eye clearly closed. Speer took advantage and caught Sotiropolous, dropping him and finishing him on the ground. Speer went on to lose easily in the finale to Danzig.

    Since then, many have complained that Sotiropoulos could have won the whole show if not for the eye-poke, and that Danzig's path to winning the show was much easier than other competitors before.

    With Danzig coming off a first-round knockout of Joe Stevenson, why not put him and Sotiropoulos together now? The UFC could market it as setting the record straight from TUF season six, and it would give the commentators plenty to yap about.

    It would be a good comeback fight for Sotiropoulos, and if Danzig could get the win, he would be ready for a big fight.

Jorge Rivera

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    After producing a series of videos mocking his opponent Michael Bisping in the lead-up to their co-main event bout, Jorge Rivera was overwhelmed by his enraged opponent.

    Bisping rocked Rivera early with a blatant illegal knee, and showed no remorse when the fight was paused to check the downed fighter. Rivera continued and was eventually stopped by the aggressive Bisping.

    The loss drops Rivera back down to the undercard, and at 38, the UFC probably doesn't have much more use for him. But, if he can put together some wins, they will certainly keep him around.

    This may be the vigilante in me talking, but if it was up to me, I would match the controversial loser from Saturday, Rivera, with the controversial winner, Nick Ring.

    Ring won a unanimous decision over Riki Fukuda on the undercard in what was generally accepted as an awful decision. The win upped Ring to 11-0, but he looked horrible in the fight.

    Let Rivera and Ring duke it out on an undercard, with the winner getting to keep his job and the loser looking toward the unemployment line. I know it isn't Ring's fault that the judges chose him over Fukuda, but this is what you get when you win in the UFC: a stiffer test.

Michael Bisping

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    There are so many possible opponents for Michael Bisping's next outing, and every single one of those options is verbally making it clear that they want the job.

    Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort were the first two middleweights to come forward and ask the UFC for Bisping in their next outings. I guess losing to Anderson Silva makes you want to choose your future opponents more carefully.

    I think either of those fights would be perfect. Personally, I would want to see Sonnen get the fight. If Bisping was bothered by by the things Rivera had to say in the build-up, I think his head would explode after being targeted by Sonnen.

    Also, it is about time that Bisping faces a true top contender that he would not be favored against, and Sonnen would be that.

    However, Yushin Okami certainly deserves a big name fight after winning a title eliminator, only to have Dana White utter his usual, "we'll see". Bisping would be a nice bout on the big stage to suffice the often ignored Japanese contender for the time being.

    There is also Nate Marquardt, who faces former Bisping victim Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128.

    There are many options for Bisping, but I choose Sonnen. That is, if he is back in the UFC in a timely fashion.