Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin and 5 Fights to Make Post UFC 135
Quinton Jackson was unable to dethrone light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, but after spending his entire training camp at the MusclePharm Sports Science center in Denver "Rampage" appeared to be in the best shape of his professional career.
Jackson's head movement and wrestling was vastly improved in the fight and there are certainly positives to take away from the loss.
A rematch with a former champion would make sense on many levels.
Additionally, Josh Koscheck earned an impressive knockout victory against Matt Hughes in his return to the Octagon for the first time since an April loss to Georges St. Pierre.
Koscheck's next move should be at middleweight, he's fresh off the biggest win of his career and his skillset would be a welcome addition at 185 pounds.
Heavyweight's Travis Browne and Mark Hunt along with lightweight Nate Diaz earned wins in their respective bouts in the lead up to the evening's aforementioned bouts.
Considering Jones is slated to defend the championship against Rashad Evans next, we take a look at five fights that should take place going forward.
Nate Diaz vs. Edson Barboza
Barboza (9-0) has yet to lose as professional fighter and has been impressive in his three fights inside the Octagon.
The Brazilian striking specialist made his UFC debut against Mike Lullo at UFC 123 and won courtesy of TKO (leg kicks).
He's now followed that performance up with back-to-back decision victories and appears to be one of the lightweight divisions brightest prospects.
Diaz (14-7), who won Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter, returned to the win column and he put on the best performance of his career.
Diaz' six-inch reach advantage kept former PRIDE champion Takanori Gomi on the outside where he was picked apart. Once the action hit the ground, Diaz quickly transitioned from a triangle attempt to a fight-ending armbar.
With that being said, Diaz now begins his run towards the top of a stacked lightweight division.
Barboza has looked phenomenal since joining the organization and his dynamic striking combined with Diaz' style would make for a thrilling matchup.
Where should it take place? UFC 141 in Las Vegas on new Year's weekend.
Mark Hunt vs. Pat Barry-Stefan Struve Winner
Mark Hunt (7-7 MMA, 2-1 UFC) showed a vast improvement in his overall skillset by dominating Ben Rothwell en route to a decision victory.
Hunt's career record is far from perfect, but his stint in the UFC has been a success thus far.
After spending several weeks with the Wolfslair team in preparation for UFC 135, Hunt claimed victory against Rothwell and has now won back-to-back fights.
Hunt's strenght remains in the striking department and after defeating two more credentialed ground fighters in his past two outings, let's see Hunt face a fellow striker.
Pat Barry and Stefan Struve face one another at UFC on Versus 6 on October 1.
Both gentlemen prefer to keep their fights standing and the winner would certainly provide an entertaining fight with Hunt.
Barry is much closer to Hunt's size as Struve would possess an 11 inch height advantage. Considering how exciting Barry and Struve's fights are, fans would definitely be treated to a solid contest.
Where should it take place? UFC in Japan on February 25.
Travis Browne vs. Dave Herman-Mike Russow Winner
Travis Browne (12-0-1) didn't get the finish that he wanted, but he outclassed the ultra tough Rob Broughton to secure a decision victory at UFC 135.
Browne has yet to lose in the Octagon and he maturing as a fighter each time out. After a fighting to a draw against Cheick Kongo in late 2010, Browne's won back-to-back fights.
He followed up a devastating knockout victory over Stefan Struve at UFC 130, with a workman like win against Broughton.
Dave Herman made a successful Octagon debut at UFC 131 where he defeated John Olav Einemo by second round knockout.
Herman is the owner 15 knockout victories and like Browne, he's an exciting talent in the heavyweight division.
Russow is undefeated in the organization with two knockouts to his credit and a single decision victory. Russow's style favors the ground aspect and he'd certainly provide Browne with an interesting style matchup.
Where should it take place? Browne told BleacherReport.com that he'd like to return in late December or early January, so if the Herman-Russow winner can deal with 12 weeks turnaround time, schedule it for UFC 141 in Las Vegas on New Year's weekend.
Josh Koscheck vs. Alan Belcher at Middleweight
Josh Koscheck (16-5) is certainly a top-five ranked welterweight and while he's defeated Diego Sanchez, Chris Lytle, Anthony Johnson, Paul Daley, and Matt Hughes, it's not his future division.
The aforementioned gentlemen are all very talented fighters and while Koscheck defeated them, he's lost to champion Georges St. Pierre twice and there's likely little hope for a third shot at St. Pierre.
Koscheck's knockout power and wrestling base would make him a threat at middleweight, which is a division that lacks elite wrestlers.
The AKA trained fighter would certainly be giving up size to his opponents at first, but with time and not having to cut to welterweight, Koscheck could add the size he'd need.
Alan Belcher returned to the Octagon for the first since suffering an eye injury and his dominant performance against Jason MacDonald was impressive.
Since losing to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100, Belcher's won three consecutive contests and has been impressive each time out.
While Belcher doesn't bring the name value that Koscheck would likely prefer, he without a doubt brings the talent needed to provide a stern test.
Where should it take place? UFC 139 in San Jose, California.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin II
Quinton Jackson (32-9) might not of been successful in his attempt to defeat Jon Jones, but he certainly provided the champion with a test.
"Rampage" displayed far better takedown defense than Jones' previous foe's and his head movement was excellent.
Jackson's time spent at MusclePharm Sports Science center was well worth the time and money. He's in arguably the best shape of his career and a rematch opposite the man who dethroned him as champion makes sense.
Forrest Griffin is coming off a loss at the hands of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and the former champion needs a big victory to prove that he's an elite light heavyweight.
Griffin defeated Jackson in 2008 to claim the title and a less than stellar training camp from Jackson saw him lose a fight that he should have won.
A rematch with Griffin would be an excellent next fight for Jackson and considering he's made his desire known to once again face Griffin, it may be in the plans for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
Where should it take place? UFC 141 on New Year's weekend is 14 weeks away, so Jackson wouldn't have the full amount of time off that he'd like, but keeping "Rampage" active is the key to his success.
At first glance it may appear that these fights won't make UFC 141, but to this point only three fights are announced for it.
Lastly, it's the end of year card and what a tremendous event it would be with these matchups added to the mix.
For additional information, follow Joshua Carey on Twitter.