What’s next for Anderson Silva and the UFC 148 winners?
Fight fans are an impatient lot, myself very much included. As soon as referee Yves Lavigne stepped in to wave of Saturday’s main event, thoughts immediately turned to trying to figure out what comes next for Anderson Silva.
It was one of the first questions backstage reporter Ariel Helwani asked Dana White following the fight, and I’m sure it was asked again at the post-fight press conference as well.
That’s just the way it works with fight fans: one fight’s done, now tell me about the next one.
Since the UFC President did his customary “We’ll have to wait and see” – rightfully so I might add – allow me to play matchmaker and offer up my thoughts on what’s in store for Silva and the rest of the men who had their hand raised on the main card of UFC 148 Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Next Opponent: Jon Jones
This is the fight everyone wants to see, and while there are barriers to it being made – they’ve both said they’re not interested, Jones has to get through Dan Henderson first – I can’t see Dana White not doing his damnedest to make this happen.
Pitting the best fighter we’ve ever watched step into the cage against the only person who looks capable of challenging for that title at the present time is too big to not chase.
If not Jones, there is an interesting list of potential challengers. Michael Bisping will certainly lobby for a shot, especially if he wins his next match-up.
The winner of the UFC 149 bout between Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch has to be considered, but my money would be on the winner of Wednesday’s main event that pits Mark Muñoz against unbeaten prospect Chris Weidman .
Both have excellent wrestling – which we know Silva can struggle with at times – and each offers something Sonnen never brought to the table: nasty ground-and-pound from Muñoz, and a very good submission game form Weidman.
Considering the winner of that one should be next in line, it’s sad that there wasn’t more emphasis put on pushing the event during the UFC 148 telecast.
Next Opponent: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Griffin didn’t look particularly impressive earning the victory over Tito Ortiz. In fact, he looked older and slower than we’ve seen him in the past, further proof that he’s on the downside of his career. As such, pairing him with one of the young up-and-comers in the division probably won’t be agreeable to Griffin.
Instead, I say you make a match between the two veterans to most recently beat Ortiz, pitting Griffin with “Little Nog” in a bout where the winner gets one last chance to chase the light heavyweight championship.
Next Opponent: Rich Franklin
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as the main event of the UFC on FUEL TV show slated for Macau later this year. Remember where you heard it first.
Franklin is coming off a solid, but unspectacular win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147, while Le earned a similar type of victory over Patrick Cote over the weekend.
Neither is really deserving of title contention at this point, but you could make a case for the winner of this getting a final push in the middleweight division if you tried hard enough.
Both are solid names, especially for FUEL TV and a new market, and were originally slated to fight before Franklin had to replace Vitor Belfort opposite Silva last month. Lining it up again makes perfect sense to me.
Next Opponent: Rick Story
I liked what I saw from Maia in his brief welterweight debut at UFC 148, but I recognise that it’s going to take more than an technical knockout victory due to injury to get him a bout with someone in the heart of the welterweight chase.
For now, a match-up with a durable, strong grinder like Story makes sense to me. The division is full of solid wrestlers, including Story, and both are coming off solid wins. It wasn’t too long ago that Story was in the top 10, and a win for Maia could help make his case for being bumped up the ladder.
Next Opponent: Darren Elkins
Here’s the thing: despite coming off a blistering finish at UFC 148, I think Mendes is the odd man out in the title chase right now, as he just fought for the belt in January.
As such, I can see him getting the opportunity to get a couple momentum-building wins back under his belt, and Elkins fits the bill.
The Indiana-based wrestler has won three straight since moving to featherweight, including handling former TUF winner Diego Brandao last time out, so he’s due for a step up in competition.
While Mendes is more of a leap than a step, it’s great opportunity for Elkins to get into contention, and a chance for “Money” to get another win under his belt while waiting for his opportunity to get back into title contention.
Next Opponent: Yves Jabouin
These two were originally slated to square off in May before Easton was forced out with an injury, giving Jabouin the chance to earn a win over an over-matched Jeff Hougland.
With people frustrated by Easton’s performance against Ivan Menjivar, a pairing with Jabouin should produce the Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots style of fight they’re looking for, as the Haitian-born Canadian is an aggressive striker who won’t be content to move backwards while looking to counter.
Additionally, they’ve each earned a trio of wins in the bantamweight division now, and have hit a point where it’s time to figure out which one of the two is the better contender moving forward. I say let them sort it out in the cage.
Follow The Roar’s UFC expert E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter at @spencerkyte