(Dude. Yikes. Photos courtesy of UFC.com)
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just received word that Cody "The French Revolution" McKenzie has agreed to take on Yves Edwards at UFC Fight for the Troops 2 on January 22nd, after Edwards’s original opponent was drafted for the main event. (It should be noted that Edwards has never lost by guillotine choke in 56 career fights.) McKenzie’s big return made us wonder — what does the future hold for the other winners of last Saturday’s UFC event? Well gather around, kids, and we’ll tell you what should happen…
Jonathan Brookins: You know how this works. In his first post-TUF outing, Brookins needs to be built up against a relatively established vet who happens to be vulnerable against his skill-set. So, who’s a chokable, lateral-droppable lightweight who you’ve heard of, but who doesn’t have the kind of striking skills that will make Brookins look foolish? Huh. That actually doesn’t leave a lot of options among the UFC’s current roster.
This is going to sound random as hell, but I think the UFC needs to bring back Matt Veach. Though the H.I.T. Squad fighter was released by the UFC earlier this year after consecutive losses to Frankie Edgar and Paul Kelly (both by submission), he’s gone on to win three straight in smaller promotions; he was also undefeated before he came to the UFC, scoring stoppages in nine out of ten fights. I think we all want to see Brookins developed slowly in winnable matchups; still, Veach is far from a pushover.
Stephan Bonnar: With an official win-streak in play, it’s time to take one baby-step up the ladder, against a guy who isn’t coming off losses. Stanislav Nedkov is still waiting for his first UFC opponent after Steve Cantwell bailed on him — why not give him to Bonnar? Nedkov owns a perfect 11-0 record, but his level of competition hasn’t been top-notch. I’d be curious to see how scary he really is against a guy who’s logged as many hours of Octagon time as Bonnar has — especially now that the American Psycho is actually following non-brawling-based game-plans.
Demian Maia: According to Demian, there’s some internal chatter about him facing Michael Bisping next. Of course, Bisping already has a date with Jorge Rivera at UFC 127 in February. But I think the winner of that fight does make sense for Maia’s next opponent. Whether its Bisping or Rivera, Demian would be squaring off against a confident striker who would be vulnerable on the ground, as long as Maia can keep from getting his ticket punched in the standing exchanges. Either way, the fight might actually produce an exciting finish, which Demian could certainly use after going to decision in his last four outings.
Rick Story: He beat a legitimate prospect in Johny Hendricks, he’s strong as a freaking bull, and his trainer says he’s ready for the top ten. Personally, I feel he could still use some more time to develop, but after five straight wins, Story definitely deserves a bigger name to help get him over with fans. Since the idea of Diego Sanchez vs. Matt Hughes doesn’t make sense anymore, Sanchez vs. Story sounds like a good time — plus, Diego Sanchez would force the fight to be interesting.
Nam Phan: He won his fight against Leonard Garcia. You all saw him win it. So at the very least, Phan should get a follow-up opponent who’s on the same level as Garcia.
If Chris Horodecki loses to Donald Cerrone at WEC 53 this month, Horodecki would be perfect for Phan — another gutsy striker with a good name. [Right, those are lightweights. Duh.] Otherwise, I’d match Phan with Pablo Garza, the TUF 12 Finale Knockout of the Night winner whose only professional loss came in a short-notice lightweight fight against Zhang Tie Quan at WEC 51. (He also lost a decision to Michael Johnson in the TUF 12 elimination round, which gives him something in common with Phan.) Both Phan and Garza have potential as UFC featherweights, but there might only be room for one of them.