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By: Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist
Let's get it out of the way so that there is no giant elephant in the room: UFC 149 laid an egg. An unprecedented big, smelly, rancid, fermenting dinosaur egg of skunk excrement. And you know what? That's fine, it really is. If the card were on free TV, or on cable, there would have been some random bitching and that would be that. Two weeks from now a couple or a few million people will watch Brandon Vera main event a show on Fox, and a week after that 300,000 or so people will pay $50 to watch the second of five consecutive fights between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar while 47 worthy Lightweight contenders line up to battle for three separate UFC Interim Championships. And by the time UFC 150 is done, UFC 149 will be little more than a footnote in history, and hopefully some lessons will be learned by the powers that be.
But that said, I'm still angry enough about last night's awful showing that I really don't feel like analyzing Roland Delorme's future, predicting what's next for Anton Kuivanen, or looking into my crystal ball to tell you what's next for James Head (likely? A loss). But so as to not allow the three worst fights of the year completely overshadow an otherwise tolerable night of fights, let's take a quick look forward at what's next for a few fighters from last night's UFC 149: Flaming Pile of S***.
Renan Barao: The big question for Barao is will he or won't he? As in, will he or won't he be defending his interim bantamweight championship between now and when Dominick Cruz is ready to return. I say he will, and if he will, the only name up for consideration is Michael McDonald. What a fool believes is that Barao should sit on the sidelines for up to a year of his prime waiting for, um, I keep forgetting his name. Oh yeah, Dominick Cruz. Yes, I'm trying too hard.
Urijah Faber vs. Miguel Torres, the time has come for you two WEC legends to finally get into the cage and fight it out. WEC NEVAH DIE! Well, of course it doesn't evah die, as long as Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, Ben Henderson, Dominick Cruz, Carlos Condit, Brian Stann, et. al. continue to thrive. But you know what I mean. Yes, I'm trying much less hard now. Doesn't change the fact that it's time to see Faber vs. Torres, though. The loser never regains relevance, and the winner at least has a chance to become meaningful one last time.
Other fights to make include:
Cheick Kongo vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Shawn Jordan vs. Shane Del Rosario
Matthew Riddle vs. Someone British, preferably English (not that there are a whole lot of Welsh fighters in the UFC, but you know what I mean)
Francisco Rivera vs. Bryan Caraway
Antonio Carvalho vs. Mike Thomas Brown
And yes, I left out two of the most notable names from last night; Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard. But it's really difficult to envision what's next for each guy without plotting out the entire division. So let's do that. The entire division, at least the top 20 or so and look at what's next.
To begin, here's what my top 20 UFC middleweights looks like as of now:
1 Anderson Silva
2 Chael Sonnen
3 Chris Weidman
4 Vitor Belfort
5 Tim Boetsch
6 Alan Belcher
7 Michael Bisping
8 Jake Shields
9 Yushin Okami
10 Brian Stann
11 Rich Franklin
12 Hector Lombard
13 Mark Munoz
14 Costa Philippou
15 Ed Herman
16 Francis Carmont
17 Rousimar Palhares
18 Ronny Markes
19 Tom Lawlor
20 Cung Le
A few explanations. I'm going to use all announced fights. Meaning, even though I'm not dying to see Shields vs. Herman, it's already booked, so it's locked in. The UFC wants to make Franklin vs. Le in Macau, so I'm rolling with that one as well. I'm going to try to pair winner vs. winner and loser vs. loser as much as possible, but since the UFC doesn't adhere to that prescription 100% of the time, exceptions will be made. So let's get these guys booked.
#1 Anderson Silva vs. #3 Chris Weidman: Despite the fact that no one saw Weidman steamroll Mark Munoz, and despite the fact that Munoz was grossly overrated (the Leben win was nice, but come on, man), he's the best choice right now.
#7 Michael Bisping vs. #10 Brian Stann: Already booked for UFC 152 in Toronto
#2 Chael Sonnen vs. #5 Tim Boetsch: Boetsch's injury puts a wrench in things. Sonnen vs. Belfort made sense, seeing how both guys have lost a combined three title fights in the last two years, so pitting them in a fight made sense. The winner stays alive, the loser never gets a sniff at a title run. Add in the whole Brazil vs. Chael thing, and it was a lock. Then I would have done Belcher vs. Boetsch, with the winner facing Stann or Belcher a shot at Weidman or Silva. But since Boetsch likely won't be ready to fight for a few months, he can fight Chael, who shouldn't be in a rush to return anyhow.
#4 Vitor Belfort vs. #6 Alan Belcher: Seeing as how Duke Roufus will already be in Brazil for UFC 153 in the corner of Erik Koch, send Belcher and Belfort to Rio for UFC 153. The winner of that squares off against Bisping or Stann on the Super Bowl Weekend card with Silva and Weidman on top. Easy Peezy. And then Boetsch or Sonnen are right behind them in line.
#8 Jake Shields vs. #15 Ed Herman: This fight is booked for UFC 150 on August 11. It's a potentially fantastic fight.
#9 Yushin Okami vs. #17 Rousimar Palhares: This fight is also booked for UFC 150 on August 11. Yes, UFC 150 is going to be very good, so let's all work really hard to get over UFC 149, mmmmkay?
#11 Rich Franklin vs. #20 Cung Le: the UFC clearly wants this to be the main event for the Fuel TV event in Macau this November. It was originally booked for UFC 148, but that didn't happen due to Rich Franklin being pulled from the fight to replace Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC 147.
#12 Hector Lombard vs. #13 Mark Munoz: OK, so let's talk a little more about what happened on Saturday night in Calgary. Hector Lombard wasn't intimidated by the big stage, he doesn't need to cut down to welterweight, and he may very well have won that fight. Personally, I gave it to Boetsch, but would've had no problem with it going either way. Simply put, occasionally Hector Lombard lays an egg. Big fat hairy deal. Like Seth MacFarlane's version of Spiderman would say, "Everybody gets one." Lombard just made the mistake of using his "one" in his debut, and did so in a completely unforgettable fashion. Lombard called out Munoz in the build for his fight with Tim Boetsch, so let's do it. Also, with Lombard being an Aussie, and with Munoz' Filipino roots, how about as the co-main event in Macau?
Other Middleweight Fights To Make
Costa Philippou vs. Nick Ring
Francis Carmont vs. Ronny Markes
Tom Lawlor vs. C.B. Dollaway
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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