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Armchair Matchmaker: ‘UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez’ Edition

(“Well, Joe, I’d just like to thank God for giving me the strength to-OH SHIT HERE COMES THE REST OF ‘EM.” Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) 

Let us begin this week’s edition of the Armchair Matchmaker with a few fun facts about last Saturday’s UFC on FOX 7 event

-With eight (T)KO’s, UFC on FOX 7 tied UFC 92 for the most (T)KO finishes in a single UFC event in the promotion’s history.

-In defeating Jordan Mein via second round TKO, the resurgent Matt Brown now holds the third longest win streak (5) amongst active UFC welterweights, as well as the record for (T)KO finishes in the welterweight division. Yet incredibly, the FOTN check Brown received was the first end of the night bonus he has earned in some 15 UFC fights.

-Frank Mir, like, really dropped the ball against Daniel Cormier.

Now, using those absolute truths and a little speculation, let’s decide who the biggest winners and losers from UFC on FOX 7 should face next, shall we?

The Winners

Ben Henderson: Well, we already know who he’ll be facing next, so that one is pretty easy. The question now becomes: How do you see Bendo taking it? Split decision, unanimous decision, or the always rare majority decision?

Daniel Cormier: Now this one is tricky. On one hand, Cormier has been hinting at a drop to light heavyweight for what feels like years now. On the other, his victory over Mir, as well as his wins over Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva have proved that Cormier can pretty much overpower whoever he wants. If he plans on staying at heavyweight, it’s hard to argue that Cormier isn’t a win or two away from a title shot, regardless of how he looked against Mir.

The main problem is that the future of the heavyweight division is pretty much in a state of limbo until UFC 160 goes down next month. With the Cain Velasquez vs. Bigfoot Silva rematch determining the heavyweight champion and Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt presumably determining the next #1 contender, the only matchup that really makes sense for Cormier would be against the winner of the Fabricio Werdum/Big Nog fight at UFC on FUEL 10 in May, which will cap off their gigs as coaches on the second season of TUF: Brazil. Unless you think Todd Duffee has earned a big step up in competition of course.

Josh Thomson: Despite being a former Strikeforce champ and longtime veteran of the game, Josh Thomson might be the most underrated fighter in the lightweight division. That was of course, until he finished the previously unfinishable (and former title challenger) Nate Diaz last weekend. Granted, it appeared as if Diaz was headed to fatter pastures regardless of his performance, but that takes nothing away from Thomson’s incredible accomplishment.

Again, Thomson finds himself in a unique situation, as the UFC’s lightweight division does not currently offer a lot of sensible fights for “The Punk” to take. Anthony Pettis is headed South, Bendo already has his next fight lined up, and Jose Aldo will get the title shot after that if he is able to best Pettis. And as entertaining as their first three fights were, there is no way in Hell we are going to suggest Thomson vs. Melendez IV. So…Donald Cerrone (If/After he beats K.J. Noons at UFC 160) maybe?

Matt Brown: Demian Maia. There’s only one way to see just how far Brown can go in his current career comeback, and as much as we’d love to match “The Immortal” up against another fellow banger — like say, the Lawler/Saffiedine winner – we should first see if Brown’s submission defense is still as mortal as it used to be before we allow this pipe dream to continue any longer.

The Losers 

Gilbert Melendez: The loser of the Grant/Maynard #1 contender fight. Simple.

Frank Mir: Heading into last weekend’s fight with Cormier, Mir stated that he was guilty of “not showing up” for certain fights throughout his career. But now that he was training away from his family for the first time, Mir promised us that he would make a statement against “DC.” While I personally think that Mir has earned his current pay rate in the UFC through concussions alone, it would be almost impossible to claim that he “showed up” on Saturday. Mir looked sluggish and uninspired for the majority of his co-main event scrap and now finds himself in the first two-fight skid of his career.

Being that he’s fought the who’s who of his division and the fact that everyone else of note is tied up at the moment, we’d say give Mir a break for the time being and have him fight Matt Mitrione whenever he returns from his current suspension. Both guys are known for making controversial statements and will likely needle the shit out of each other in the weeks leading up to the fight, and isn’t that the best scenario we could ask for given both guys current career trajectories? I know, I’ll see myself out.

Nate Diaz: Hey, we already laid out the terms of Diaz’s future at 170 lbs. when he first announced that he would be headed back to the welterweight division. Prepare yourself, Papy Abedi, for a storm of Stockton Heybuddies and fisticuffs is headed your way.

Jordan Mein: He may be coming off a loss, but does anyone else think the prospect of seeing Mein square off with fellow Canadian slugger and newly-minted welterweight Patrick Cote is too perfect to pass up? *cue the overwhelming disapproval of this notion* Cote looked outstanding in (the first two rounds of) his victory over Bobby Voelker at UFC 158 and a fight with Mein would be a perfect litmus test for either fighter. DO IT OR WE’LL PICK UP JOE SILVA AGAIN.

Give us your general thoughts on UFC on FOX 7, along with who you think the winners and losers should face next, in the comments section. 

-J. Jones

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earldogg- April 23, 2013 at 6:43 am
I say give josh thomson a crack at the gold. First of all it very easily could've been him fighting ben hendecision on saturday night considering how close his last fight w gil was. Second of all, look how good gil did against bendo. When u add what thomson did to diaz as well as the timing, it all seems to make perfect sense....I don't wanna see maynard get ANOTHER title shot and I'm sorry but tj who? There is no clear cut number one contender at LW, he's coming off an unprecedented performance, let this guy get his well deserved shot while the rest of the division sorts out who's next..
Mir please break Brocks neck- April 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm
For the record: #1) I know DW and lots of internet comments said that Melendez WON.....but he absolutely did NOT. "To BE the have to BEAT the Champion". Gilbert did NOT beat Benson. Next #2) I LOVE Mir.....but Mir looked HORRIBLE. Matt Brown fight was the best fight on the card and congrats to his 5 win 'win' streak.
ArmFarmer- April 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm
Why are we assuming diaz will still go up to 170 when his entire reason for doing so no longer exists? Or is he just that concerned of the distant possibility that either he or gilbert wins the title, with the other being number 1 contender? Even if that were to happen it would take a year or 2 given they both just lost and the next 2 title fights are booked.
Pen Fifteen- April 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm
How would Cerrone make sense for Thomson? Taking Nate Diaz as the common opponent, this would seem to represent a clear step down in competition for Thomson. How about the winner of Dunham/Dos Anjos, or perhaps Nurmagomamadamadov? At least those are guys on upward trajectories. Cerrone has lost to so many top 10 guys that he's basically the definition of a gatekeeper.
Nippletwist- April 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm
it's just going to be weird watching benson fight maynard or grant for the title, when i know that none of them are actually the best lightweight. it's a really bizarre set of circumstances the ufc is in now.

i'm sure eventually it will all clear up though and we will get to see Melendez fight Pettis for the belt, and that's going to be a fucking awesome fight. i just want it right now! sucks that we have to wait for it
Nippletwist- April 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm
it's too bad we can't see Melendez fight Anthony Pettis, so we could see who the best lightweight really is.

The lightweight divisions really a mess now with pettis going down, and melendez not getting a rematch, now the two best guys in the division don't have the belt, and they probably won't even be fighting for it for a long time.