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By Rich Hansen, MMA Torch Columnist
Was "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung's incredible fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fuel 3 a star making performance, or was it merely a lost opportunity to build a star? The Zombie got a star pop from the live audience, and he thrilled dozens upon dozens of people watching at home on Fuel, and thousands more watching on illegal streams. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Jung put in the performance of his lifetime on Tuesday night in Fairfax, and it seems likely that he's going to fight Jose Aldo or Erik Koch for the UFC Featherweight Championship, but it is yet to be determined if having his career-defining performance on such a lowly rated event will come back to haunt the UFC.
Since it seems likely that Jung will be fighting Aldo or Koch in his next fight, let's take a look at what might be next for some of the other notable names who fought on Tuesday night.
Dustin Poirier: Poirier wasn't supposed to lose on Tuesday. Of course, the UFC is ecstatic with the way things played out, with The Korean Zombie doing everything in his power to make himself a star. Poirier's future is just as bright today as it was on Monday, it's just going to take a little longer for him to get to the top of the mountain. I'm not a fan of gimme fights, because you don't improve if you aren't challenged. A fight with the solid Diego Nunes makes all the sense in the world to me.
Donald Cerrone: MMA fans are the most fickle species indeed. At one time or another, and in no particular order, Cerrone has been underrated, overrated, ten moles from a title shot, one fight away from a title shot, reviled, and beloved. The one constant though has been exciting, and that goes a long way with the UFC. It's clear that the price of Cerrone stock rose a little too high after he throttled Dennis Siver, and it crashed a little too low after the loss to Nate Diaz in December. I think he's at proper value now, 2-3 fights away from a title shot. Cerrone wants to fight in August at UFC 150 in Denver, which is in Cerrone's home state of Colorado. A fight with Anthony Pettis makes 42 times more than all the sense in the world, but Pettis won't be ready to fight in August.
If Cerrone were willing to bypass fighting in Colorado, we could see him fight Gray Maynard or Clay Guida in September, or Anthony Pettis in October. Since I think he's going to fight in August, he's not going to be facing an elite guy, as all the top lightweights are unavailable for an August fight. Henderson fights Edgar in August. Maynard fights Guida in June. Miller is coming off of a loss. Pettis is still rehabbing. The next wave of lightweight fighters coming off of victories, and who aren't already booked, include TJ Grant, Mark Bocek, and Rafael dos Anjos. TJ Grant has been impressive. None of those guys are perfect choices. So I'm hedging. Anthony Pettis is the choice if Cerrone puts career ahead of fighting at home, and Rafael dos Anjos is next if he fights at UFC 150.
Yves Jabouin: When Jabouin is on, he's thrilling to watch. His destruction of Jeff Hougland was a thing of beauty. That said, he hasn't finished a fight since 2008, and his three fight winning streak consists of wins against Ian Loveland, Walel Watson, and Hougland. I think this is the time to see what he's made of. Mike Easton is the choice, depending on when Easton will be ready to fight. If their schedules don't sync up, a bout with Johnny Eduardo would be a literal blast.
T.J. Grant: It would be really easy to get on the Grant bandwagon, because not only is he on a roll since dropping to 155, but he also fights a style which is fun to watch. While a fight with Cerrone would really test his mettle, I like him against dos Anjos next. But since I've made dos Anjos unavailable in my little bubble universe here, how about the solid Matt Wiman next?
Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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