(“Us Californians have a pretty chill attitude about the law of gravity, brah.” Photo courtesy of MMAFighting)
Jon Jones will be defending his new belt against former teammate Rashad Evans, Urijah Faber will be rematching Dominick Cruz in another title fight (this time at bantamweight), and we probably won’t be seeing Mirko Cro Cop around these parts again. But what’s in store for the other winners and losers from UFC 128‘s main card? Allow us to offer a few suggestions…
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua: The obvious matchup is Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Rampage is fighting Matt Hamill at UFC 130 in May, but I think Shogun vs. Rampage 2 is worth booking for this fall no matter what happens in the Hamill fight. Rua and Jackson’s history in PRIDE creates an easy-to-promote storyline, and to be honest, Shogun could probably use a few more months to get in shape. Not to take anything away from Jon Jones’s brilliant performance on Saturday night, but Shogun looked like he usually does when coming back from knee surgery — a little soft, and with questionable conditioning.
Eddie Wineland: With Miguel Torres also booked at UFC 130, the only other option that makes sense is former bantamweight title contender Joseph Benavidez, who deserves a higher-profile fight after being buried in a dark match against Ian Loveland this weekend. I’ll even go one step further and suggest the event where this match should take place: UFC on Versus 4, main card.
Jim Miller: Seven wins in a row, and still so far from a title shot. That’s the cold reality in the UFC’s currently stacked-to-discomfort lightweight division. At the very least, Miller deserves a name in his next fight — he might just have to wait a few months for the right opportunity. Ideally, I’d like to see Miller matched up with either Clay Guida (if Guida can beat Anthony Pettis at the TUF 13 finale in June) or Melvin Guillard (if Guillard can beat Shane Roller at UFC 132 in July).
Kamal Shalorus: My advice? Lose some of that muscle, drop to 145, and square off with Leonard Garcia to see who can throw the ugliest hooks in the UFC.
Nate Marquardt: Nate the Great is just one of many fighters who have called out Michael Bisping lately. But if Vitor and Wanderlei are fighting each other, and Chael Sonnen is still dealing with a frozen contract and legal issues, why not book Bisping vs. Marquardt? It’s high-profile enough to be a co-headliner, and it re-establishes one of them as a top contender. And then, maybe Nate can pursue his goal of being the largest welterweight on the planet.
Dan Miller: The older Miller brother seems doomed to hang around the middle of the UFC 185-pound pack for all eternity. I say, farm him out to Strikeforce and put him up against Tim Kennedy. If SF is really sticking around for a bit, they can always use another warm body at middleweight, and Kennedy has been complaining about not fighting enough. Well, here’s somebody you can fight. Boom. Done. Next question.
Brendan Schaub: If only Schaub and Shane Carwin weren’t teammates at Grudge Training Center, that pairing would almost work. (As we’ve now learned, friends only fight when a title comes between them, in which case they’ll happily hate each other in public.) Schaub’s quickly climbing up the ladder, and it would be nice to finally see him tangle with Frank Mir, who fights Roy Nelson at UFC 130. Just like with Shogun vs. Rampage, it’s a matchup that still makes sense no matter how Mir does in that fight. After all, they both wanted it last year. But again, it requires Schaub to be on the shelf for a while, and the UFC usually doesn’t wait that long to re-book their contenders after big wins. Ah, screw it. Assuming that Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament is probably never going to reach a conclusion…what’s Sergei Kharitonov up to these days?
Got any other wise booking suggestions? Let us know in the comments section…