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Here Comes A New Challenger: Matches to Make – UFC on FOX 15


(Quick Felice, the spinach! Go for the spinach!!” via Getty.)

By Sam Stilson

UFC on FOX: Machida vs. Rockhold always looked incredible on paper, but few would have expected its impact on three separate divisions. Yes, three out of the four favourites on the main card won, but the manner in which they dominated their opponents was completely unexpected. There’s a new pecking order laid out and more entries in Dana White’s proverbial mix than a Girl Talk setlist (Is he still cool? No? OK, that’s what I thought).

With so much fresh blood in the water, let’s take a look at the most logical next fights for our main card competitors.

Luke Rockhold – Should fight: Weidman-Belfort winner

Does “Jacare” deserve a title shot? Absolutely. But when you stack up his last 4 wins (Camozzi, Mousasi, Carmont, Okami) against Rockhold’s (Machida, Bisping, Boetsch, Philippou) it’s obvious who is more deserving. Even beyond strength of record, no one has crushed Machida like that other than Jon Jones. Not even Weidman. Luke Rockhold against either Weidman or Belfort is a compelling matchup and one that will have fight fans frothing.

Lyoto Machida – Should Fight: Tim Kennedy or Michael Bisping (if he loses to Dollaway)

Machida had a terrible night. Maybe age has finally caught up to him, or perhaps Rockhold is just that good. Either way Lyoto deserves another reset fight similar to his bout against Dollaway. Tim Kennedy might be tempted out of his self-imposed exile for a bout against a former champ and if Bisping knocks himself out somehow and loses to Dollaway, that matchup could still headline an event despite the losing streaks.

Ronaldo Souza – Should Fight: Yoel Romero

Souza is a deserving contender with a lengthy win streak, but he still needs another marquee name to really make his case. A fight against the #6 ranked Yoel Romero isn’t dangerous enough to risk his spot in line but a win would put the cherry on top of an assured title shot. Third times the charm right?

Chris Camozzi – Should Fight: Tom Watson

You have to admit, the guy’s got balls. What he doesn’t have, is much of a chance against anybody but the lower tier of the middleweight division. Tom Watson is in a similar place with a 3-3 UFC record and shaky standing in the weight class. A loser leaves town fight should bring the best out of both of them.

Max Holloway – Should Fight: Winner of Lentz-Oliveira

Perhaps the most surprising performance of UFC on FOX 15 came from the young Hawaiian Holloway. Not only did he upset the #5 ranked Swanson, but he destroyed him. Max has always been a developing prospect, but appears to have turned the corner towards contention. A bout against Mendes seems rushed, but he should definitely be fighting top 10 opponents from here on out. Lentz and Oliveira are expected to fight at the end of May. The winner should face Holloway.

Cub Swanson – Should Fight: No one. (broken jaw/hand)

Not only did Cub leave Jersey with a broken jaw and hand, but he may have shattered his fighting spirit too. Two lop-sided drubbings in a row can really mess with your psyche. Some time off to heal and grow would be beneficial.

Paige VanZant – Should Fight: Maryna Moroz

It wasn’t long ago that pundits were calling Rose Namajunas the ‘strawweight Ronda Rousey’, perhaps they picked the wrong young, attractive woman. Van Zant isn’t the next Rousey, but what she does have in common with the bantamweight champ is a ferocious intensity that has carried her into the top ten in just two UFC fights. A bout against the 23 year-old Maryna Moroz, who just upset Joanne Calderwood would be a hell of a lot of fun and create an instant contender.

Felice Herrig – Should Fight: Joanne Calderwood

Speaking of Calderwood, Jo-Jo would make a great next opponent for Felice Herrig. Both women suffered bad losses to young rookies and desperately need a win to stay in the elite class. They haven’t fought before (either on TUF or in competition), which is a rarity in this division, and it’s a great stylistic matchup and easy main card fight.

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