UFC 139: What's Next for the Main Card Winners?
November 19th, 2011 and the UFC 139 have both come and gone, but they were officially one of the best days and events the UFC has ever had. There were two Fight of the Night winners, for goodness' sake!
Now that the night has passed, and the main card winners are gearing up for the next round of fights, these are who I think they should fight next.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Stephan Bonnar is one of the toughest fighters you can find in the UFC today. He doesn't have the best record, but he always adapts, is never legitimately finished in a fight, can take as big a beating as anyone at 205 pounds and he's extremely well-rounded.
These things were proven in his unanimous, decisive victory over Kyle Kingsbury, with one judge even scoring the bout 30-25 (which is about as one-sided as it gets).
I think a logical next step for him would be someone like Vladimir Matyushenko. Both fighters are coming off of consecutive wins and trying to revitalize their careers. This would be a good way to go, in my opinion. The winner then gets a top-10 fighter and we'll take it from there.
Rick Story is, was, and has been overrated ever since he beat Thiago Alves. He dropped two straight fights to Charlie Brenneman—who was demolished by Anthony Johnson—and now has lost one to Martin Kampmann, who was on a two-fight losing streak.
Sure, Kampmann rightfully SHOULD be on a five-fight winning streak. But the fact is he was not given his last two fights and therefore was on a losing streak.
Despite these things, he came in and set everyone straight. He's still one of the best fighters at 170.
Yet, Kampmann still has quite a bit of improving to do, especially with his offensive take-downs, seeing as he definitely had trouble getting the kick-boxer to the ground.
I think a fair next fight for Kampmann would be someone in the top ten. I think a Jake Shields rematch would be very good for everyone to see. If he's not available, then BJ Penn would be a very good test for him.
Also, I think Story should be fed someone who is in the 20-15 range, to keep him relevant.
Faber may no longer be the greatest Featherweight of all time, but the man can absolutely still fight at Bantamweight. It almost seems like this was the weight class he was meant for. I honestly thought he won the Cruz fight (48-47) on July 2. Maybe that's why I wasn't too surprised to see him do what he did Saturday night.
After being essentially dominated through the first round, Faber went on to completely turn the tables on Brian Bowles in the second round. Eventually, he rocked him and secured a guillotine, winning the fight via submission.
I think the best next fight for him is absolutely Dominick Cruz, once again. This would most likely be the final fight between them seeing as Dana White isn't a big fan of tetralogies. I would expect this fight to happen since it would be so easy to market at this point.
Also, as a side note, Bowles needs to get a solid comeback fight. Which shouldn't be difficult, given his young age and continuous improvements.
The Axe Murderer has officially returned to the win column. He has definitely been on a bit of a slump since his return to the UFC; after he was knocked out by Chris Leben, many thought he would retire. Looks like he made the right decision so far though.
I was one of the people who had reluctantly chosen Cung Le to defeat Wanderlei Silva by knockout, but this is one of those times where I'm glad I was wrong. Silva came into this fight in as good of a shape as I've ever seen him in, and it showed out there in the cage.
He inevitably wound up taking some damage from Le, as his style of fighting would expect to give him, but he came away with the second-round knockout victory. It was a bit controversial to some people, but there was no doubt in my mind that Wanderlei had won that fight.
I think his next fight should come against Ronaldo Souza, if he ends up in the UFC in a timely manner.
And just as a thought about the Middleweight division, I think the UFC should sign Mamed Khalidov (who was pulled out from KSW XV). The dude would be awesome, I think.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Shogun always comes to fight hard as long as he isn't coming off of an injury. He came into this fight healthy and looking good, and it absolutely showed. Some would argue he won the fight against Dan Henderson last night, despite the official decision being a unanimous victory for Dan.
So, despite walking out of the cage with an L on his record, he is absolutely not a "loser". Especially considering that he participated in a fight some people have called the fight of the year (and, for others, even the greatest UFC fight ever).
I don't foresee him dropping down in the rankings much at all, so I think a good next step has to be Rashad Evans or Rampage Jackson. If Rampage comes into that fight in as good of shape and as intense as he did the Jones fight, it will be an absolute war, I think.
It has become abundantly clear that there's no way in hell Evans will win the title fight just yet. In order to earn that fight he so desires, I think he'll need to go through Shogun.
Dan Henderson just participated in one of the best fights I've had the opportunity to see, and deserved the win that he fought for. He came into this fight looking great physically as if he had never lost a step.
I think that it would be almost impossible for him to not have the next title shot after Machida gets his opportunity at UFC 140. He has been on quite a winning streak, having just defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in an absolute war, and seeming to be unstoppable as of yet. I can't imagine him not fighting Jon Jones (or, less likely, Lyoto Machida) next April or May.
This had to be one set of the greatest cards ever. Without a doubt, you can ask any of the people who saw the event, and I can just about guarantee they would say they loved it. The Henderson-Rua fight has officially set the bar for five-round non-title fights, as well.
Also, Gleison Tibau is the biggest damn lightweight I've ever seen. The man looks more like a short middleweight than a man who was 155 pounds 24 hours before he entered the cage.
Thoughts and comments about the winners and my predictions?