Well here we are, the final piece of my UFC 152 coverage. This will be about the fighters and what their next steps are. For the ones who lost, it’s a step back; for the one’s who won, it’s a step forward. So let’s put ourselves in Joe Silva’s shoes and see what could be in store for the fighters that were on UFC 152:
Charlie Brenneman – Losing is never easy, especially when you were once considered to be a future contender. For Charlie Brenneman, this now puts him at 4-4 in the UFC. He lost his fight because he was too confident in his stand up, and he payed for it. If the UFC is serious but keeping Charlie Brenneman around, than they need to give him a guy who won’t knock him out on the feet. Someone like Rich Attonito who currently doesn’t have an opponent and is a phenomenal wrestler, much like Brenneman
Kyle Noke – This was a big, big win for Kyle Noke. Not only did he get his first win at welterweight against a solid opponent, but he did it against a wrestler. I say give Noke a gift and give him someone who will now stand up and strike with him. He passed the first test at welterweight, now let’s see if he can fight someone who could give him a taste of his own medicine. A Chris Clements would be a good match up. Both guys who are exciting on the feet and like to put on a show.
Walel Watson – Watson now falls to 1-3 inside the Octagon, but worse yet; all of his 3 losses were in a row. The “3 strikes and you’re out” theory may apply here, especially given that Watson was beaten in under a minute. If he doesn’t get cut, than possibly have him stick around to face a newcomer.
Mitch Gagnon – For Mitch Gagnon (now 1-1 in the UFC), he’s finally in a position to make something happen with his career. He fell short in his debut, although he showed potential, but now he has a solid win and some good footage to add to his growing highlight reel. Gagnon is a grappler, but he showed some big power in his punches. I think a match up between Gagnon and Vaughan Lee would be a good fight. Either Lee or someone like Chico Camus.
Simoen Thoresen – While he looked good up until that big shot that KO’d him, he needs to face someone with a little less power if he wants to have a shot at winning his next bout. It was evident that Thoresen’s striking power lacked and his overall striking presence just really wasn’t there in his bout against Baczynski. He is a grappler, a damn good one at that, so let him showcase what he can do against a Kenny Robertson or a TJ Waldburger; both guys who have a majority of their wins by submission, but lose when they can’t get control on the ground.
Seth Baczynski – One ting was evident in his fight against Thoresen; Baczynski is a big, powerful welterweight who hits like a truck. Now that Baczynski has racked up a good amount of wins inside of the Octagon it’s time for him to face a step up in competition. While the majority of welterweights are already booked, a certain individual by the name of Claude Patrick would be a very fitting test for Seth. Patrick has a good record inside of the UFC, has a lot of potential, but is coming off of a loss. Perfect fight for Baczynski.
Jim Hettes – It sucks being targeted as a prospect early in your career and having a lot of pressure put on you. For Jim Hettes, he put on a very disappointing performance. Hettes is an outstanding grappler, but it was clear that his stand up was not as perfected. Hettes showcased a solid chin, but just didn’t have any explosiveness that he showed in his first two outings in the UFC. I think Hettes needs an opponent that will test whether or not he is going to choose to be a one-dimensional grappler, or a well-rounded MMA fighter. A bout against another fellow hot prospect in Hacran Dias, would surely give him a solid test.
Marcus Brimage – I think his big upset against Hettes is exactly what Brimage needed to get some eyes on him. Brimage pulled off an upset before against Maximo Blanco, and now against Hettes, I think it’s time for him to fight someone who won’t be favorited so highly. The featherweight division is storming with guys who are on short 2-3 win streaks and have the potential to be fighting for near contention. I think Darren Elkins would be a good fight for Brimage, either him or an exciting fighter like Max Holloway.
Lance Benoist – While Benoist lost, he had a good showing and put on an exciting performance against a tough guy. Benoist was labeled as a grappler, but as the majority of the fight was spent on the feet I think that Benoist has some decent stand up skills. He took Pierson to three hard rounds of fighting back and forth and that’s a tough thing to do. I think Lance Benoist needs either a lower-ranked opponent, or an exciting match up that could sling shot him back into the mix. I think James Head would be a great match up for pure entertainment value, but for a lower-ranked opponent; give him Besam Yousef or Justin Edwards.
Sean Pierson – This could be Pierson’s chance to get back into the mix at 170. I think he can be used to put on some exciting match ups. I think a throw down between him and Matt Brown would be an appropriate match up to make for him.
Evan Dunham – For Evan Dunham, this loss against TJ Grant much be very disappointing for him. This was the fight that was going to lead him back into contender ship, back to the road which led him to where he was at before his loss to Melvin Guillard; and that didn’t happen. Now he needs to matched up with an opponent who can use him to possibly get a big win under their belts; that’s what happens when you lose what should’ve been a “gimme-fight”. I think Anthony Njokuani would be a solid fight for Dunham to either come back to, or for Njokuani to use to get back into the mix as well.
TJ Grant – A huge win for Grant, he needs to take advantage of this situation now. He is now 3-0 as a lightweight, all relatively good competition. Now, he needs a fighter who can really bring up to a higher level; I think Grant possesses the capabilities to be a top contender. Jamie Varner would be a good possibility for him.
Igor Pokrajac – Some bad decision making for Pokrajac ends his three fight win streak at 205. Igor was in a good position to win the fight against Vinny; he survived the first round and was ready to start landing some shots on the feet when out of nowhere he shoots for a takedown. I don’t know what possessed him to make that decision but it crushed his chance of getting to the top, or atleast delayed it a couple years. Igor has a lot of KO power, but he needs a guy who he can actually use it against. Someone like Anthony Perosh or even a debuting fighter.
Vinny Magalhaes – An outstanding submission victory for Magalhaes, but he needs to continue his momentum. He has now gotten everyone’s attention and he put on the performance that we all had hoped he would. Next step for Vinny would be a guy like Ryan Jimmo, another guy who has the attention of everyone in the division. The winner between Jimmo/Magalhaes could easily sprout the next new potential contender.
Charles Oliveira – Not quite the performance that all of us “Da Bronx” fans had hoped for in his important bout against Swanson. Yet again he loses because he just can’t handle the fire power of his opponent. To avoid being considered as a gatekeeper, Oliveira needs a big win or atleast an impressive performance. Maximo Blanco could pose an interesting fight for the two.
Cub Swanson – Yet another outstanding peformance by Cub Swanson. That puts him on a 3 fight win streak, all top-level fighters, all very impressive performances that feature his powerful boxing skills. If there wasn’t anybody in line for the title, Cub would be an easy pick; but unfortunately there’s a long line of potential title challengers and I think they need to start fighting eachother to really see who is legitimate. Right now, because it’s unclear whether Frankie Edgar or Erik Koch is going to be fighting next for the title, I think Swanson should face either one of them, or Korean Zombie.
Roger Hollett – Not quite the performance we were expecting from Hollett, a promotional debutee who finds himself on the main card against a former top contender. I think Hollett needs to take a huge step back and face someone “his own size”, by that I mean someone who is near his status. He’s 0-1 so have him face either another promotional debutee or Nick Penner.
Matt Hamill – Now that he’s back in the Octagon again it’s time for him to jump right into it. He had a warm up fight, a bout that he himself didn’t even look to well in but if he’s serious about coming back into MMA, he better step it up. I think a bout between him and Ryan Bader would really test to see if he’s willing to continue.
Brian Stann – Now that his showdown between him and Bisping has finally concluded, it’s time for Stann to move on. He had a decent performance, he didn’t look bad, just not to the level of preparation that he needed to win. The only reasonable opponent available for him right now would be Jake Shields, a lot of people would like to see him knock Shields out, but his takedown defense could yet again cost him a loss. Either that or a brawl between him and Wanderlei Silva.
Michael Bisping – Alright, so Bisping has proven himself yet again. He’s showed all of the haters that he indeed has the skill set to make it to the top. As much as all of us would like to see Bisping get H-bombed again, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Bisping is solid, complete fighter, who is now knocking on the door to the title. Unfortunately, there is a long line ahead of him. We have Chris Weidman, Tim Boetsch, and Alan Belcher. Now, all of those fighters have fights that they need to win before possibly fighting for the title; Bisping does not. Could Bisping possibly be next in line for the title after Anderson Silva fights Stephan Bonnar? I think so.
Joseph Benavidez – Alright, so he’s not going to be the first flyweight champion of the UFC. However, Joseph Benavidez has the skill set to be top 3 of the divison easily. The only other fighter that could possibly out-rank him, besides Johnson, is the winner of John Dodson and Jussier de Silva. As for Benavidez’s next opponent, it could be the loser of that bout, or possibly a guy from bantamweight, it’s impossible to tell with the lack of depth in the division.
Demetrious Johnson – His next opponent is very explicit; the winner of Dodson/Jussier.
Vitor Belfort – Alright, he didn’t pull off the upset that everyone wanted him to. However, he showed why he should be considered a legend; he fought with a broken hand, and has now done the most damage to Jon Jones by nearly snapping his arm in half. I think Belfort needs to drop back down to middleweight (he’s a little too small compared to those giants at 205) and possibly face Michael Bisping? I think a lot of us would like that. That’s if the UFC doesn’t want Bisping fighting for the title immediately after his win over Stann.
Jon Jones – Right now, Jon Jones’ next step is very unclear. There are 4 fighters that are either one win away from being in title contention, or are already in title contention; Shogun Rua, Alexander Gustafsson, Dan Henderson, and Lyoto Machida. Now, logic tells me that these four should grab a partner, fight them, and do it tournament style. Because Shogun and Gustafsson are already scheduled to fight, that leaves Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida. Either these two fight eachother, or the UFC picks one of them to fight Jon Jones while the other waits around staring at the wall. It’s impossible to tell, that’s what makes MMA so interesting.
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