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By: Ryan Rott, MMATorch Contributor This is a brand new column here at MMATorch.com. Following the major UFC events, Torch Contributor Ryan Rott will play Joe Silva for a day with a select number of main card and undercard winners from said event and give his thoughts on who they should fight and why. Feedback is welcome in the comments section as we unveil this new feature.
Terry Etim: Etim is exciting. After dropping two bouts to underrated fighters in Gleison Tibau and Rich Clementi, Etim has gone 3-0. Taking the fight to kickboxer Sam Stout, he won a unanimous decision in October of 2008. At UFC 95, the head kick that he used to stun Brian Cobb was impressive, but his submission transitioning game prior to the TKO was reminiscent of Serra's beautiful transitions when he fought Kelly Dullanty at UFC 36. Most recently at UFC 99, Etim earned the submission of the night with a well executed D'Arce choke over Justin Buchholz. His last three wins have shown a lot about him. He's proved he has the conditioning, striking, and ground skills to be a force in his division and at only 23, other 155ers should be watching out for this guy! At 6'1 and only 155, he is very tall and long limbed, and will likely have a significant reach advantage over everyone he fights. On a hot streak, Etim deserves a step up in competition, on a PPV main card. (If Al Turk can make a PPV main card twice, Etim should get his shot). With Evan Dunham matched up against Matt Veach at 102, Josh Neer set to take on Pellegrino, and Mac Danzig ready to go with Jim Miller, Cole Miller would be a fun matchup and great step up in competition for Terry Etim.
Dan Hardy: Hardy is for real. The guy with no punching power unleashed a massive right hook on Rory Markham. The guy who was just not on Marcus Davis' level spent 15 minutes in the Octagon with Davis and made him look like he spent 15 minutes in the Octagon with a grizzly bear. Hardy is flagrant, loud and obnoxious, but that's just how I like my fighters. The Brit isn't at all ready for GSP yet, but the Muay Thai fighter that is 3-0 in the UFC is starting to look like a world beater. Dustin Hazelett would give Dan Hardy a fun fight, but he might not be fighting again for quite some time due to injury. I'd love to see how Dan Hardy reacts to the unusual judo style of Dong Hyun Kim, who gave Karo Parisyan everything he could handle while Parisyan was on illegal substances. Anthony Johnson had to pull out of his last fight because of nagging injuries, but if he is ready to go, then Hardy v. Johnson would be awesome. However, the fight I'd be most interested in for Dan Hardy would have to be Quick Swick. Hardy has four submission wins, a guillotine, an injury, and 2 by way of strikes. Swick is similar in that both his submissions are by guillotine choke. They've both proven that they have punching power and strong chins, so this one probably isn't going to have someone tapping due to a triangle choke. This could be a fast paced stand up war and I want to see it happen. Plus, they both last fought at UFC 99, so they'd be ready to get back in the Octagon at about the same time.
Spencer Fisher: The King is back in Spencer Fisher. He has victories over Thiago Alves, Matt Wiman, Dan Lauzon and, as of last Saturday night, Caol Uno. Recently, he has only lost to Sam Stout (which he later avenged), Frank Edgar (who just beat up Sean Sherk), and former WEC Champion and UFC championship contender Hermes Franca. Three straight wins in the Octagon usually means it's time for a step up in competition. But he already got that in a very game Uno. I'd like to see Fisher continue his step up the ladder and fight to position himself one or two fights outside of a shot. The Miletich Fighting Systems fighter would match up well against many people with his solid ground game, good chin and conditioning, as well as his powerful strikes. In the upper echelon of the division, Nate Diaz is set to lock horns with Joe Stevenson, and Clay Guida is busy training for his upcoming fight with Diego Sanchez. With Roger Huerta wanting to forgo the Octagon to flash his pretty smile on the big screen, and Frankie Edgar already having bested the King, his best bet would be to fight the other guy Edgar just beat. Sean Sherk is nowhere near done with his career, but it is time for an old dog to learn some new tricks. If he can't, Spencer Fisher will roll over him, but I think he can. Joe Silva, give me Fisher v. Sherk!
Cain Velasquez: I don't think I really need to say anything else. The name speaks for itself. Now 6-0 in MMA, he is a fierce contender and is near the top of the UFC heavyweight class. 4-0 in the UFC, he has ascended the heavyweight ladder very quickly. Going from Denis Stojnic to Cheick Kongo, he might have skipped a few rungs, but he performed beautifully. The two time All American wrestler dominated and controlled Kongo for 15 minutes straight. His ground and pound was ruthless, and he never seemed to tire. The reason that the fight went to decision should be placed solely on Kongo's toughness, because O'Brien, Morris, and Stojnic all got put to sleep. Cain even showcased his own toughness, in getting blasted by Kongo (twice) and having the resiliency to take Kongo down and shake the cobwebs out of his head. Cain is an American Kickboxing Academy standout, and the trainers over at AKA believe he's the next big thing. I tend to believe AKA because they have dealt with Penn, Machida, Sherk, Fitch, Koscheck, Swick, Thomson and Vera. AKA knows top fighters, and they think Cain belongs in that category. He took a big step in proving himself in dominating Kongo, but what's next for the "Brown Pride" fighter. Junior Dos Santos could be a good opponent after decapitating Fabricio Werdum, but he's a busy man in taking on Justin McCully at UFC 102. With Lesnar, Mir, Couture and Noguiera locked in the mini heavyweight tournament, and Gonzaga losing not too long ago, Shane Carwin seems like the best bet for Cain Velasquez. Both have gotten knocked down in their last fights but used their wrestling to beat their foes, showing their toughness and good chins. Both have great wrestling pedigrees that should cancel each other out. Carwin might have bigger bombs in his hands, but Velasquez has a viciously fast attack. It will be an exciting fight.
Rich Franklin: There is no one for Rich Franklin to fight. No biography is needed; he has been main eventing for a long time. Rich Franklin is a top tier fighter. He has beaten everyone, except Anderson Silva (Dan Henderson and the NSAC might dispute this, but I think Franklin won that fight). Unfortunately for him, everyone at the top of the LHW division is accounted for. Forrest Griffin will be fighting Franklin's buddy Anderson. Rashad is taking on Rampage after TUF 10. Shogun is fighting Machida for the title. The top 5 LHW are accounted for in that list (Ace included). Now for top 10: Keith Jardine is fighting Thiago Silva at UFC 102, he just beat Wanderlei who is dropping down to 185, and Rogerio and Renato don't fight in the UFC. Rich Franklin is no gatekeeper. He is a proven champion and should be contending for the belt. So him fighting an up and comer doesn't make sense, but it might have to happen. Krzysztof Soszynski is on a tear since his stint of TUF 8, but he isn't ready for Franklin. Matt Hamill is once again on his way up, but nobody needs to see that rematch. Chuck Liddell would be fun, but if I actually was Joe Silva, I'd be sending retirement contracts over to Chuck, not fight contracts. There are three fighters left that could fight Franklin. Brandon Vera looked like he returned to his former monstrousness in his victory over Mike Patt. Luiz Cane can absorb a ton of damage and spring like a python to dish it back out, just ask Sokoudjou. Finally, Jon Jones is a very exciting striker, but he seems too raw to take on Franklin. Any of those fights would be great for the fans, and great for Franklin's opponent, but I see no reason for him to take one of those fights, especially because Ace isn't too marketable, so he probably wouldn't be getting paid a whole lot for one of these up and comers. Ace, take my advice, go spend some more time in Silva's gym learning how to fight elusive guys, and wait for your shot at Machida.
I'll be back with What's Next after UFC 100!
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