After a couple of less than stellar shows the UFC has finally hit a home run with their third outing on the Fox Network. In two hours we had a night of great submissions, cool KO’s and fights that were just plain fun. Not sure if it’ll reflect in the ratings but for a fight fan it was a great night. With another night of action in the books it’s time to look to the future and predict what happens next.
A perpetual “rising star” Nate Diaz proved once again why he’s a top fighter in the lightweight division.
While I am not sure if he has what it takes to be a champion I wouldn’t be surprised if his mix of boxing, world class jiu jitsu and tenacity could take him to the top. At this point it is all but guaranteed that he will get the title shot against the winner of Ben Henderson vs Frankie Edgar, deservedly so. With that said there is another fighter waiting in the wings for a title shot, Anthony Pettis. With knockouts over Joe Lauzon and a fight of the year contender against Ben Henderson he is also deserving of a shot. So I say match the two up and find out who the real number one contender is.
Speaking of rising stars Johnny Hendricks has been on fire over the past 3 years. The NCAA Division I wrestler has had impressive wins over TJ Waldburger, Charlie Brenneman, and the 12 second KO of former title contender Jon Fitch. Tonight he faced his toughest challenge yet in Josh Koscheck. For three rounds out striking Koscheck he took the win with a very close split decision. In a new class of up and coming welterweights I think he should finally go up against one of them, specifically Rory McDonald. Both men are on a collision course for a title shot so why not have them face each other and see who really deserves it.
Most people would think that going to the ground with a guy like Rouisimar Palhares would be a suicide mission; Alan Belcher clearly most guys. After being taken down he didn’t try to escape like most. Instead he seemed to welcome it and worked some great ground defense against the leg lock specialist. After trying several submissions he got won via TKO with in the first round. Despite his impressive showing the journeyman of the cage has a ways to go before a title shot. That doesn’t mean he isn’t in the running though. That’s why I propose Belcher takes on the winner of Jason Miller vs CB Dolloway a month from now. A win over either of these recognizable names would be a great kickstart to his run for the gold.
It might be an understatement but Lavar Johnson hits really hard. If his past 14 knockouts tell you this than surely beating Pat Barry in the first round should be enough proof. While his ground work leaves much to be desired the dynamite in his fists are more than enough for some exciting wars. And there’s nobody better for all out brawls than Mark Hunt? With wins over Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo there’s nobody better for all out wars.
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride”. While a bit out of place I think it’s perfectly acceptable when it comes to Miller’s career. While always on the cusp of a title contention he always seems to lose those crucial matches. May 5th was no different. While the odds on favorite he just couldn’t overcome the ever improving Diaz. So here he is, back where he always been; too good for the opener but not in title contention. In a similar the 10 year veteran Joe Lauzon. While the submission specialist’s wins over Jens Pulver and Melvin Guillard are impressive he always seems to lose when it counts. So why not put the two stalwarts against one another? If for no other reason than it sounds like it could be an awesome jiu jitsu battle.
2012 hasn’t been the best year for this Ultimate Fighter alum. After a controversial, and quite frankly boring, split decision win against Mike Pierce he came up short tonight against Johny Hendricks. Now I don’t want to say the Koscheck’s career is on a downslide because that is just incorrect. However I can say that he’s in this weird transition period where he’s not quite at the top but not quite going down. As for where he goes, I’m not quite sure. Best I can suggest is match him up against another TUF alumini, Diego Sanchez. Now I realize that their first bout was one of the worst fights I have ever seen. But I think that both fighters have involved enough in the past five years to where it could be a fun fight. Just don’t put it on PPV because if it sucks I don’t want to pay for it.
I’ll be perfectly honest, I have no clue what you do with Palhares. I mean there’s no doubt that he’s an impressive fighter. His mix of strength and jiu jitsu are an formidable combo. The thing is that’s all he has. I don’t expect every fighter to be Anderson Silva but I think he’s too one dimensional to go far in the middleweight division. Maybe he will prove me wrong, heck I hope he does. But at this point he’s just the leg lock dude. As for who he should face next lets go with Court McGee. Why? His beard is pretty epic. That’s just as good a reason as anybody else I would throw out there.
Before I go on I want to say that I was quite impressed by Pat Barry on this show. No longer just the kickboxing guy he has improved his ground game by leaps and bounds. Despite these improvements he wasn’t able to survive the barrage of left hooks and uppercuts from Lavar Johnson. After this loss Pat Barry is where he’s always been; not the biggest, not the hardest hitter, not the best on the ground, but man can he have a fun fight. He’s a gatekeeper to the big boys (no pun intended) and that’s perfectly fine. To continue with his unofficial title why not throw him up against UFC newcomer Chad Griggs? Despite his unimpressive debut he has had some fun fights in the past. So why not put him up against another guy with a history of fun fights? I like to think that these two have the perfect opener for an FX show.