(Meanwhile in Roy’s stomach, a dozen undigested cheeseburgers cried for mercy. Photo courtesy of UFC.com)
Look, I was all for sweeping UFC 130 under the rug and never mentioning it again, but since ReX has shamed me into doing this, it’s time to look back at Saturday’s big winners (and big, big losers) and see if we can devise some future matchups for these guys that will actually produce interesting fights. Make it happen, tiny atheist.
Quinton Jackson: Dana White seems dead-set on giving Rampage a title shot if his hand is healthy enough to accept it. Ugh, terrible. Why the UFC isn’t interested in promoting the hottest rivalry in the sport is anybody’s guess. (And don’t give me that bullshit about “timing”; it’s more likely related to White’s personal feelings about Rashad Evans.) In a perfect world, Rampage sits out for a few months and faces the winner of Shogun vs. Forrest at UFC 134 in Rio. With losses to both on his record, I don’t think motivation would be an issue.
Matt Hamill: Sure, on paper Hamill was coming into the fight against Rampage with a five-fight win streak — but considering that the most impressive victory in that streak (by far!) was his knockout of Mark Munoz, you have to wonder where the Hammer really sits in the light-heavyweight pecking order. My first thought was that Hamill should face the resurgent Vladimir Matyushenko next — but Vlad already has a date in August. So give him the winner of Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado at this Saturday’s TUF 13 Finale. Either Hamill rebounds, or a rising prospect gets a big-name notch on their belt. Seems win-win to me.
Frank Mir: Unfortunately, back-to-back wins over Mirko Cro Cop and Roy Nelson have done nothing to raise this guy’s stock. I think a fight against Brendan Schaub still makes sense, as long as Schaub finds a way to get past Big Nog in August and Mir is willing to sit out for a while. At that point, fighting the TUF 10 finalist might be considered a step up for Mir.
Travis Browne: After a 2-0-1 UFC stint against solid competition, I’d like to see Browne get a modest step up against another dangerous bastard — namely Mike Russow, who is also undefeated in three Octagon appearances. Russow is coming off a doctor’s stoppage TKO of Jon Madsen, which followed his legendary comeback knockout of Todd Duffee. It’s a matchup that would produce a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division.
Rick Story: With six wins in a row, he’s now qualified to call out any 170-pounder in the UFC outside of Georges St. Pierre — and for some reason, he’s chosen Jon Fitch. Dude, what? Nobody looks good fighting Jon Fitch, except GSP himself. Instead, Story should be calling out Josh Koscheck, who’s just as highly-regarded as Fitch, but more likely to produce a memorable fight. In a way, Story is like the second-coming of Koscheck — a seasoned wrestler with power in his hands — so a meeting between the two makes a lot of sense.
Brian Stann: The UFC’s 185-pound division is heavy at the middle right now, so one more impressive win could break Stann out of the logjam and set him on a title track. But all the other contenders in the middleweight division seem to be booked right now. The best option? Have the All-American fight the winner of Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz, who meet at UFC 131 on June 11th.
Demetrious Johnson: If you’ve compiled a four-fight win streak with your last two victories coming against Miguel Torres and Kid Yamamoto, then yes, you are one of the top dogs in the bantamweight division. But I’d like to see how well Mighty Mouse does against a fighter who can stop his takedowns — and there are a number of 135-ers in the UFC who fit that description. July’s UFC 132 event holds two possibilities: Urijah Faber if he loses to Dominick Cruz in the main event, or former champ Brian Bowles if defeats Takeya Mizugaki. Either opponent would be a trial-by-fire for Johnson, but he’s earned it.
Got any other suggestions for UFC 130′s fighters? Let us know in the comments section…