Here’s what we know: Frank Edgar will make his next title defense against Gray Maynard, who routed Kenny Florian on Saturday night. Dana White is done with James Toney, even though James Toney might not be done with MMA. Nick Osipczak, John Salter, and Gabe Ruediger could very well be receiving "Dear John" letters from the UFC as we speak. As for UFC 118‘s other winners and losers, their fates are yet to be decided. But as usual, we have a few opinions on the subject…
BJ Penn: The Prodigy spent 2007-2009 destroying all the top talent in the UFC’s lightweight division, then looked completely uninspired in two consecutive fights against Frankie Edgar. Either Penn has fallen off his game dramatically or Edgar is just a terrible style matchup for him — and we won’t really know the answer until Penn’s next fight. What’s obvious is that lightweight has been Penn’s most effective weight class in general, and going back up to 170 would be a terrible idea, especially while Georges St. Pierre still rules the roost. The UFC should give Penn a rebound fight against a name opponent who’s a little further down the ladder, but will test BJ’s desire to fight. That’s right, folks, it’s time for BJ Penn vs. Takanori Gomi II. Gomi is born-again after starching Tyson Griffin; add in Gomi’s history with Penn, and you have a co-headliner that any pay-per-view card would be lucky to have.
Randy Couture: Dana White says his next opponent will be one of the top guys at 205. It’s probably not Jon Jones, who’s looking at the winner of Ryan Bader vs. Rogerio Nogueira. Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida are already booked for November. Rashad Evans will get the first crack at Mauricio Rua‘s new belt when Shogun is healthy again. Forrest Griffin is an Xtreme Couture guy, and probably wouldn’t fight the boss. In other words, options are limited at the moment. If he doesn’t mind sitting out until next spring, fighting the loser of Jackson/Machida seems appropriate for Randy. It would give Couture the opportunity to return to legitimate contendership (which I think he wants more than anything else), and it’s a fight you could definitely sell on a poster.
Demian Maia: Over his last four fights, Maia has collected two losses and two decision victories. And so, a famous question comes to mind: "Where’s your jiu-jitsu now, playboy?" Demian handled replacement opponent Mario Miranda on Saturday, but anything less than a submission finish feels like a disappointment, considering how fearsome he was during his first five appearances in the Octagon. Give him the Alan Belcher fight he was originally scheduled for; Maia’s latest win certainly doesn’t qualify him for anything more than that. Of course, if Belcher’s detached-retina puts him out for an extended period of time (or retires him, God forbid), if would be great to see Maia against our man Gerald Harris — who was able to finish Miranda in the first round of their fight at UFC Fight Night 21.
Kenny Florian: Maybe Ken-Flo does choke in big fights. He certainly wasn’t able to pull the trigger against Gray Maynard, and that doesn’t bode well for his chances of ever holding the lightweight title. In a perfect world, his next fight would be against surging contender George Sotiropoulos, who deserves a chance to prove himself against the UFC’s top dogs, just as Florian deserves a chance to prove that he’s still one of the best 155′ers around.
Nate Diaz: Once again, Nate Diaz puts in a masterful performance at welterweight, and we’re starting to wonder if he could become an actual threat in the division. The first name that comes to mind for his next opponent is Mike Swick, who’s a comfortable step up from Davis even though he’s coming off two losses against Dan Hardy and Paulo Thiago. But I think it’s time for Nate to be tested against a welterweight opponent who’s actually on a win streak, which is why I’d slot him against Johny Hendricks (9-0, 4-0 UFC), who just smashed Charlie Brenneman during the UFC 117 prelims. Hendricks has been flying under the radar lately, but after racking up his fourth straight win in the Octagon, he’ll likely be rewarded with a higher-profile match.
Got any other UFC 118-related matchmaking ideas? Let us know in the comments section…