Now that we’ve all come down from the meth-like high that UFC 166 provided, let’s get down to some business, shall we? Fans and pundits of the sport alike have previously hailed our armchair matchmakers as “The most sagacious, in-depth and intellectually gratifying reading experiences in all of mixed martial arts reporting,” so let’s hope we can work our magic for Saturday’s biggest winners. Besides, AMC FearFest starts soon and we will be checking out for the rest of this month once that gets underway.
Cain Velasquez: Well, according to Dana White during Saturday’s media scrum, Velasquez will be facing Fabricio Werdum next. Don’t be fooled by Werdum’s recent three-fight killing spree, though; Velasquez will have “Vai Cavalo” butt-flopping all over the mat inside of two rounds. That greedy sonofabitch.
Daniel Cormier: To hell with who Cormier should be matched up with next, I want to be matched up with Cormier’s kickboxing coach and learn the art of the turning side check kick, STAT. In all seriousness, we’d like to see the former Olympian matched up with fellow grappling stud Phil Davis next. Davis is fresh off a split decision over Lyoto Machida at UFC 163, and if Cormier is as insistent on cutting to LHW as he seems, Davis would make for a perfect litmus test.
Gilbert Melendez: Either T.J. Grant or Khabib Nurmagomedov. Grant’s already injured his way out of a title shot, and with Josh Thomson taking on Anthony Pettis next, a fight between Melendez (who lost a razor-thin split decision to former champ Ben Henderson in his previous fight) and Grant would make for a sure-to-be slugfest that would help determine the true #1 contender in an already stacked division. Now that we’ve seen how Melendez deals with an extrovert-lunatic like Sanchez, it will be interesting to see how he handles an introverted, Ed Gein-esque lunatic like Grant. Because you just know that Grant has robbed a grave or two in his day. He’s got that look in his eyes.
Of course, now that Nurmagomedov is farmboy slamming top contenders like Pat Healy and calling for title shots in his post-fight interviews, a fight with the former Strikeforce champion could be the validating fight he’s been looking for. His name still doesn’t carry the kind of power that Melendez’s does, but a win over the Russian would solidify “El Nino’s” place as a future title challenger.
Gabriel Gonzaga: While watching UFC 166 at a particularly distressing Buffalo Wild Wings in Skokie, Illinois last weekend, I overheard a man known only as “Possum” refer to Gonzaga as “a real Jekyll and Hyde” fighter. It was perhaps the most astute fighter analysis I have ever heard. Thankfully, Gonzaga has been a lot more Hyde than Jekyll in his second UFC run, putting together four stoppage wins against just one defeat. With that in mind, we think the UFC should give Gonzaga another shot at glory against an upper-echelon heavyweight and see how he fares. Although Stipe Miocic is basically the only guy who fits the above criteria and doesn’t currently have a fight booked, we think the winner of the Frank Mir/Alistair Overeem fight would make for a better matchup. Our prediction: Pain.
John Dodson: There are really only two options available for the hardest hitting flyweight in the division: You either give him the Lineker-Harris winner or the Jorgensen-McCall winner. Or you give him another title shot. Or you give him another UFC newbie to beat on and kill some time. OK, so there’s four options. But only two of them are sensible, so take your pick.
What do you think, Potato Nation? Do these matchups intrigue you in the slightest? And who would you like to see UFC 166′s losers face next?