It’s safe to say that the UFC’s latest trip to the land of major network television succeeded in exceeding most of our expectations. For starters, the event pulled in much higher viewership numbers than most pundits of the sport (and apparently the UFC’s marketing department) ever believed a card topped off by a flyweight fight could do. The fact that the card delivered exciting finishes and entertaining brawls from top to bottom further cemented our belief that the UFC has truly started to hit their stride with Fox. Not that we ever doubted them, but things were looking hairy for a while there *thinks back to UFC on Fox 2, shudders*.
But today, we must gather up last weekend’s results like a herd of slaughtered bison, take to our (ban)wagons, and forge ahead to the river of subjectivity that is the armchair matchmaker (Oregon Trail metaphors. They’re like, so in right now.). So join us after the jump as we breakdown what is next for some of Saturday’s biggest winners.
Demetrious Johnson: Challenger John Dodson might have brought the pop rocks to his first ever UFC title fight, but Demetrious Johnson surely brought the coke. And by coke, I mean cocaine. Because Johnson fights like he’s on…you know what, forget it. The Tazmanian Devil-esque tornado of takedowns known as “Mighty Mouse” is truly something to behold when he enters the octagon, combining a limitless gas tank with a simple will to survive that is unmatched by 90% of his MMA counterparts, flyweight or otherwise.
Unfortunately, the UFC’s flyweight division is thinner than that of its participants, so Johnson’s options are severely limited. Although Tim Elliot made a statement in his dominant win over Jared Papazian at the TUF 16 Finale, the fact that he dropped a unanimous decision to Dodson prior to that means that he is still a win or two away from a shot. The only logical next step for Johnson would be against the winner of the Joseph Benavidez/Ian McCall fight at UFC 156. Johnson has the advantage of having faced both men before (and McCall twice actually) and it’s slim pickings right now for the champ. Who knows? Maybe he can use that advantage to score his first ever finish inside the UFC. Lord knows the flyweight division could use one every know and again.
Glover Teixeira: In what was easily the biggest fight of his budding career, Teixeira stepped up in a big way and did what no man has ever done before: beat the excuses right out of Rampage Jackson. And while that is an impressive accomplishment in and of itself, we don’t think Teixeira should be fast tracked to a title shot in the near future; that kind of privilege is best left for middleweights coming off a loss. Most websites out there are calling for Teixeira to take on the winner of the Rashad Evans/Lil’ Nog scrap, also scheduled for UFC 156, and it’s hard to disagree with that logic. The light heavyweight division has its fair share of viable contenders right now, with everyone from Alexander Gustafsson to Dan Henderson primed for a title shot with a victory in their next contest, so let’s give Glover a little more time to develop before we start dubbing him the #1 contender.
Anthony Pettis: If KO’ing a hard-nosed badass like Donald Cerrone in the first round didn’t make enough of a statement, doing so with an off-the-cage flying knee, a handspring (?) kick, and a liver kick to finish things off surely did. Give “Showtime” his much deserved title shot so we can see more of these shenanigans:
Also, make sure Stephan Bonnar is on announcing duties when Pettis gets said title shot.
Ricardo Lamas: Give Lamas whoever emerges victorious from the Jose Aldo/Frankie Edgar title fight at, you guessed it, UFC 156. Lamas has put together four straight over the division’s finest, and outside of Chan Sung-Jung — who is still sidelined from the shoulder surgery he underwent last July — is the only guy in the division ready for a shot at Aldo. Or Edgar. But probably Aldo.
T.J. Grant: With his incredibly impressive knockout win over Matt “Don’t Call Me Handsome Anymore” Wiman last weekend, Grant has suddenly established himself as one of the lightweight division’s hottest prospects. It may have taken him a few years under Zuffa’s embrace to pull off, but Grant now finds himself in the position to call out the Jim Millers of the division. Thankfully for us, Grant did just that. Miller is coming off a late Fight of the Year win over Joe Lauzon at UFC 155, and although Grant isn’t exactly a big name yet, a win for either man would send a resounding message to the rest of the lightweight division.
Clay Guida: On the heels of a split decision victory over Hatsu Hioki punctuated by dizzying head movement and top control, Guida proved that he is pretty much capable of doing the same things at featherweight as he did at lightweight. The perfect matchup for Guida at this point would be Nik Lentz, in our opinion. Currently riding a two fight win streak, Lentz is a similarly strong grappler who could possibly negate some of Guida’s hyper-blanket attack and would be a great litmus test for Guida in his newfound home.
So, Potato Nation, are there any matchups you find more relevant than what we’ve put together? Give us a shout in the comments section.