UFC: What’s next for Maynard, Franklin, and this weekend’s winners?
Between Jose Aldo being injured and the results from this weekend’s two events, the UFC featherweight division has become the most congested, confusing mass of contenders in the organization.
Lightweight is still a tricky situation, made more complicated by Gray Maynard’s win over Clay Guida, and then there is Rich Franklin, who once again returns to limbo thanks to his win over Wanderlei Silva.
One of the best parts about there being so many fights this weekend? I get to do double-duty pretending to be UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, mapping out what I think should come next for this weekend’s winners.
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Next Opponent: Mark Bocek
Maynard is going to be victimised by his pair of fights against Frankie Edgar in 2011 a little moving forward I’m afraid. Regardless of how things play out between Edgar and Benson Henderson later this year, I can see Maynard having a longer road back to a title shot because he fought for the belt twice last year.
As such, a guy like Bocek makes a lot of sense at this point to me. He’s on a two-fight winning streak, and his only losses in the last four years came against Jim Miller and Henderson, an elite contender and the current champion, respectively. Bocek is in need of a bigger fight and a quality win if he wants to become a contender, and Maynard has to continue to face top talent coming off his win over Clay Guida.
Honestly, I’d really like to see Maynard matched up with Anthony Pettis, but I can’t see the UFC doing that to Pettis at this point.
Next Opponent: Mac Danzig
Both have been up and down throughout their careers, but are coming off solid wins. Neither is really in the mix at ’55 right now, and need a couple more wins to get there, however, they are both pretty recognizable names that could easily be paired together on the main card of one of the upcoming Canadian shows later this year.
Next Opponent: Mike Pyle or TJ Grant
This one depends on whether or not Ebersole remains at welterweight.
If he does, give him Pyle, a fellow veteran who is on a nice little run, and is extremely well-rounded. If he doesn’t, give him a chance to get right into the top 25 in the lightweight division against Grant, a durable grinder who has won both his bouts since moving down to the 155-pound ranks.
Next Opponent: Dennis Siver
Swanson has already lost to Jose Aldo prior to his becoming champion, and was submitted by fellow contender Ricardo Lamas not that long ago either, so he’s going to have to wait his turn. A fight with Siver makes sense because (a) it’s bound to be exciting, (b) Siver is just 1-0 as a featherweight, and (c) there are a bunch of guys in ahead of them both in the title chase.
Next Opponent: Charles Oliveira
Oliveira needs to show he can handle a strong, durable wrestler with good hands, and Lamas is behind Chan Sung Jung and Erik Koch in the title race, so pitting the two up-and-comers together works for me at this point.
I’m skipping the two TUF: Brazil winners because they should both still be fighting preliminary card opponents right now. Cezar “Mutante” will most likely fight injured finalist Daniel Sarafian next though, while Rony “Jason” will get a UFC newcomer or someone coming off a low level win.
Next Opponent: Michael Bisping
This fight makes too much sense to avoid. Franklin wants to make another run at the middleweight title, as does Bisping, who needs a signature win to get closer. “Ace” has the all-around skills and veteran moxie to hang with “The Count,” while Bisping should (theoretically) be the quicker, more technical fighter. Whoever loses doesn’t really deserve to be in the title chase, so let them fight to eliminate one another.
Next Opponent: Daniel Cormier
Yes, I know Cormier is still in Strikeforce, and Werdum has already won two in a row in the UFC, but considering Cormier (1) needs an opponent, and (2) should transition to the UFC as an immediate contender, why not have these two square off to determine the next #1 contender?
The only other option that makes any sense for Werdum at this point is a rematch with Alistair Overeem, but that would be at least seven months away, and I doubt he wants to wait that long.
Next Opponent: Darren Elkins
Not the flashiest of names to match-up with, but Elkins is on a three-fight winning streak since moving down to featherweight, and deserving of a step up in competition. Dias looked solid on Saturday night earning a decision win over Yuri Alcantara, so the winner of this one would make their way onto the fringes of title contention.
Follow The Roar’s UFC Expert E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter (@spencerkyte).