(Apparently after this loss, Max Holloway decided to change his nickname from “Lil’ Evil” to “Blessed,” likely because taking Jens Pulver‘s nickname REALLY lets opponents know where your weakness lies.)
Aside from bitterly dividing fans on what exactly constitutes a fight, UFC 143 left us with a lot of unanswered questions. Should Carlos Condit consider a nickname change?* Will Dustin Poirier get the next shot at Jose Aldo?** Is Nick Diaz really calling it quits?*** Though only time will truly calm our concerns, we’re going to make some bold predictions for Saturday’s winners and losers nonetheless, because that’s how we do things ’round here. Check out our matchmaking picks below, and let us know what you think in the comments section.
Nick Diaz: Perhaps the most impressive thing about Nick Diaz is that, despite his intellectual shortcomings, he maintains an ability to instill fear into whomever he fights. His cardio, striking attack, and Jiu Jitsu are second to none and just plain SCARY, but it is the man’s confidence, his willingness to relentlessly pursue and trade with anyone, that breaks even the strongest of competitors. Going into a fight with Diaz, you know you aren’t going to submit him, and you know it’s damn near impossible to knock the SOB out, so what the fuck are you supposed to do?
Where Nick’s problem lies, however, is in his ability to adapt, to set a game plan. Nick Diaz wants to fight like Nick Diaz, against Nick Diaz, and it’s why many of us love the guy. But when anyone who won’t adhere to this type of fight is looked at as a bitch (at least in his eyes), why not start matching Diaz up against those who just want to throw down? Screw the championship aspirations; let’s just assign Diaz to barnburner only match-ups against willing brawlers from this day forward. If he doesn’t want to accept the fact that many people with a title shot in mind are going to avoid his kind of fight at all costs, he best just move on, or abandon title hopes altogether. I say give him Diego Sanchez, regardless of whether or not he beats Jake Ellenberger. Their first meeting was a classic, and the second will be no different.
Fabricio Werdum: Aside from lighting up Roy Nelson’s face like it was the 4th of July, Werdum proved last weekend that he deserved to be ranked amongst the heavyweight division’s elite, so it’s time to give him a legit contender. Matter of fact, why not an ex-champion? Cain Velasquez is coming off a disappointing first round KO loss to Junior Dos Santos, the same man responsible for KO’ing Werdum right out of the UFC back in 2008 (yes, it has been THAT LONG already). Cain will be looking to show the world that he can take a punch, and Werdum’s most recent performance shows that he is more than willing to dish them out.
Roy Nelson: Shane Carwin. If he can survive that man’s punches, then we may just have to look into whether or not Nelson’s chin is on PEDs. Otherwise, give Nelson some time off and let him attempt a cut to 205, because he doesn’t really have anywhere to go in the heavyweight division in terms of contendership. He’s simply too small to be fighting guys like Werdum, and would get absolutely mangled by the Alistair Overeems of the division.
Mike Pierce: Most people were too busy arguing over the Diaz/Condit decision to notice that Mike Pierce got the worst screw job of them all on Saturday night. Despite thoroughly out-striking Josh Koscheck, Pierce found himself on the wrong end of yet another close decision as a result of a couple takedowns that Kos did absolutely nothing with. It’s pretty evident at this point that Pierce is much better than most of us have given him credit for, and should get a good name for his next fight. We like Rick Story, who is coming off a decision loss to Martin Kampmann at UFC 139, for Pierce’s next opponent. A win wouldn’t propel either party to the top of the contender list, but would be a solid victory regardless.
Josh Koscheck: I don’t know…Jon Fitch maybe? Koscheck’s win did fuck all for him in terms of moving up those pointless rankings lists, and his one-dimensional striking attack surely isn’t going to win him a title anytime soon. His recent split with AKA opens up the Fitch fight, and I, for one, would just like to see two guys from that camp quit playing BFFs and fight. What’s Mike Swick doing these days?
Renan Barao: After dominating a former contender in Jorgensen the way Barao did, it’s safe to say the kid is ready for the ultimate step up. If wins over Eddie Wineland and Takeya Mizugaki can get Urijah Faber a shot at Dominick Cruz, then Barao has easily earned one with his wins over Jorgensen, Brad Pickett, and Cole Escovedo, after those two settle their beef, of course. If he doesn’t want to wait that long, give him the winner of Torres/McDonald, granted he is able to walk away injury free.
Ed Herman: Herman has looked better in his most recent octagon run than he ever did after placing second in the TUF 3 finals. His striking is ever-improving (though a little reliant on the 6), he can take a hell of a shot, and he packs a slick submission game to boot. Pairing him off against the winner of the Brian Stann/Alessio Sakara match would be a great litmus test for the comeback kid.
***Who the fuck knows?