UFC on FOX: What’s next for Sunday’s winners?
This past weekend, the UFC and fight fans gots their best main card of action on the FOX network out of the three full events that have hit the air.
From the opening bout of the broadcast that turned into the triumphant return of Mike Swick to the main event that featured Mauricio “Shogun” Rua engaging in another spectacularly entertaining war with Brandon Vera, this was a shining example of the kind of outstanding events the UFC can deliver.
Speaking of moving forward… here’s my customary column playing matchmaker with the winners from the most recent event.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Next Opponent: Glover Teixeira
UFC President Dana White said Rua’s lack of interest in fighting Teixeira played a part in Lyoto Machida being selected as the next light heavyweight title challenger.
Should Teixeira emerge victorious from his bout with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, he should be the man Rua presses to face next.
Though I completely understood Rua’s decision to avoid Teixeira, a win over Rampage will lift Teixeira’s profile to the point that he’ll be a sensible opponent for Rua, even if he remains exceedingly dangerous.
Rua is very much in the thick of the championship chase, but regardless of who he faces next, he’s in for a serious test, which is why he should try and line up the fight that the bosses wanted him to take originally.
As he showed against Vera on Sunday, Rua is still very hard to put away, and capable of doing a great deal of damage to wherever he shares the cage with. While Teixeira certainly has more to gain from the pairing, a win for Rua would give him the best chance to get a back into the cage with the title on the line in the future.
Next Opponent: Jon Jones/Dan Henderson Winner
This one was announced by White following Sunday’s event, but still deserves to be dissected a little bit here. Machida did exactly what he needed to do against Ryan Bader, toying with the former Ultimate Fighter winner in the first before driving a thunderous right hand home to earn the knockout finish.
Here’s what makes Machida’s selection as the next contender intriguing: depending on who wins the UFC 151 main event, “The Dragon” will either face an older, more experienced and crafty version of the fighter he just beat or the man who embarrassed him back in December. While I do think it’s too quick to see Jones-Machida II, I’m still curious to see if the former champion will be able to make the adjustments necessary to have better luck against the current champion should they meet again.
And what’s not to like about a potential Henderson-Machida match-up?
Next Opponent: Evan Dunham
I know pairing Lauzon with the oft-injured Dunham might sound like a step back for the Bostonian who just earned $100,00 in bonuses for his bout with Jamie Varner, but hear me out.
Two years ago, Dunham was tagged as one of the best prospects in the UFC lightweight division. He’s won back-to-back contests in decisive fashion since being steamrolled by Melvin Guillard, and has the kind of all-around skill set that would both test Lauzon and pair well with Lauzon for an entertaining fight.
Not only that, but both men are in need of aanother quality win before taking advancing to the next level of competition in the dangerous 155-pound division, so why not pencil them in opposite one another?
Next Opponent: Matt Riddle
Look – I love the Swick comeback story as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean we should go rushing him into a high profile, top-of-the-food-chain type of match-up next time out.
Beating DaMarques Johnson hasn’t earned anyone else an opponent in the top 20 in the past, and it should do so for Swick either, especially considering he was behind on the scorecards before getting the finish. Let him get another good, hard fight under his belt before making a call on his place as a potential contender.
As such, I think a pairing with a tough, middle of the pack talent like Riddle is the right way to go. He’s won back-to-back bouts, is always tough to put away, and deserves a more high profile dance partner for his next fight. It’s a pairing that works for both men, and should give us a good picture of where both men stand in the division moving forward.
Follow The Roar’s UFC Expert E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter (@spencerkyte).
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