The beauty of a UFC fight card is that there’s always very direct fallout. With fighters under exclusive contracts and a revolving door at the bottom pushing talent in and out of the ranks, wins and losses have a lot of meaning in the UFC. And, fortunately for me, the UFC’s deep talent pool gives lots of options as to just what these fighters could, and by all rights should, be doing next.
I’ll be working through all the fights on the main card from UFC 190 trying to figure out just what the next fight for each fighter should be. And while I could play by any set of rules I want, I’m going to try and keep it to a reasonable facsimile of the Silva/Shelby method. Winners vs. Winners, Losers vs. Losers, experience vs. experience, unless there’s just a really great fight begging to be seen out there.
Ronda Rousey: The work’s already been done for me, she’s fighting Miesha Tate. After which she’s said she plans on going off to make more movies. And it’s that second idea that’s the smart one. I love watching Rousey fight, she’s awesome, but if the UFC isn’t even producing new contenders for her to fight she should probably find other things to do with her time until someone new comes along.
Bethe Correia: Fortunately for Bethe right now, the UFC women’s bantamweight division is packed with potential contenders that can’t seem to win fights. Either Sarah Kaufman or Jessica Eye would be choice options for Correia as a bounce back, especially as they’re both very likely to stand and trade with her and not nearly as likely to KO her in the process. Of course, if Kaufman and Eye end up fighting each other, Bethe could get a bounce back against Marion Reneau.
Mauricio Rua: Normally I’d feel like I have no idea what to do with a rattled Shogun off a win. I mean, he got his hand raised, but he didn’t look less fragile in the cage, just more offensively fluid than he has in a long time. At which point there’s a fight lurking that I think makes a ton of sense. Mauricio Rua vs. Tom Lawlor. Both guys went through the grinder to get their recent wins and while Shogun is ranked a lot higher there isn’t anyone around him I’d really like to see him fight. Lawlor is the one, make it so. (Lawlor responded to the idea on Twitter, saying “Don’t think it’s in the cards but you never know.”)
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Assuming nobody other than Big Nog is just “done” off of this card, there are still a few fights at LHW Lil’ Nog could take (well there’s at least one) if he really wants to get back in there. After all, I thought he beat Shogun last night and who am I to tell people they should stop doing the thing that makes them money. Assuming Anthony Perosh is still in the UFC and wants to take fights, him vs. Lil’ Nog would be a solid way to go.
Glaico Franca: Yeah, I’m going to write up fights for the TUF Finale guys too, why not? If the UFC wants to build Franca smart, a fight against someone like Cody Pfister is the way to go. Pfister is tough and aggressive, but not a dangerous finisher; someone that can push Franca and even try and take rounds, without clocking him for a quick KO or snatching a surprise submission. Give Franca a chance to build his skill and confidence with tough fights that he shouldn’t lose badly. Mickael Lebout would also be a good option.
Fernando Bruno: Most likely, Bruno is probably going to drop to featherweight as that’s where he’s been fighting for all of his recent career, and he’s a pretty tiny LW at 5′ 6″. That being the case, Bruno should probably get a bit stiffer test than Franca next time out, even off a loss. He’s a already had the time to develop his MMA game and is probably a lot closer to being a finished product. A fight against Jim Alers would be solid and give a good chance to see if he can make any sort of run at 145.
Reginaldo Vieira: Like a lot of TUF competitors, his home is probably down a division. After all, he was the reigning Circuito de Lutas flyweight champion heading into the UFC. That’s quickly becoming a shark tank of a division, but I think the best he could do would be a fight against the very dangerous, but limited, Jon Delos Reyes. That would be a good sounding board to see just what Vieira can offer at 125 lbs.
Dileno Lopes: Likely also on his way to 125, I thought Lopes won that fight. But this bout did show a troubling ability to get overwhelmed by people willing to really put it on him early. He fought back, was the more patient and consistent guy in there, but Vieira made him burn a lot of energy early and Lopes couldn’t quite capture momentum. If Richie Vaculik is around I think he could challenge Lopes in a similar way and give a good idea of how well Lopes can hang at flyweight in the UFC.
Stefan Struve: Struve is in a strange, strange place. with an overall UFC record of 10-5, he’s one of the most active and winning heavyweights. But, he’s also fragile to the point that every loss is a brutal KO and he’s had his share of them. Part of me says it’s time for Struve vs. Gabriel Gonzaga since they’ve somehow never fought, but if it had to be another fighter off a win, I’d honestly be fine with Struve vs. Antonio Silva as well.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Apparently, he’s not getting any more UFC fights, so job done.
Antonio Silva: As I said above, I wouldn’t mind seeing him and Struve face off in the UFC. It hasn’t happened yet and both men look like they need another fight to prove they’ve actually gotten better. It’d be a good test to see who can build some real momentum while getting their career back on track. But, if that doesn’t happen, I’d also love to see Bigfoot vs. Mirko Cro Cop. I think that fight could be a hell of a lot of fun, and I have no idea who would win it right now.
Soa Palelei: This should have been Palelei’s get over moment. A win over a recognized heavyweight that would get him some ranked fights. Instead, he’s back to being the guy rising talent has to beat to keep rising. I’d say Todd Duffee is his best next fight. Duffee’s just hit a similar wall in Frank Mir and maybe one of the two of them can put something together with a win.
Claudia Gadelha: She’s got the next shot at Joanna Jedrzejczyk. That should be a hell of a good fight the second time around and there’s no question she’s the top contender for the belt right now.
Jessica Aguilar: She’s not bad. In fact, she’s a great addition to the division. But she’s not the best either. This fight settled that for anyone still holding on to the idea of Aguilar as the world’s no. 1 strawweight. The next step is finding out just where she sits in the current divisional landscape. Fights with Felice Herrig or Aisling Daly would probably be the best way for her to show that she’s still a legit top 10 talent right now.
I’d love to see Demian Maia vs. Matt Brown, Neil Magny vs. Jorge Masvidal, Patrick Cummins vs. Ilir Latifi, and Warlley Alves vs. Sean Strickland.
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