I have a two-parter here. UFC 120 matchmaking was a bit lackluster and the way the bouts played out didn't really engender excitement for the winners other than Condit. With that in mind I decided to spice up the usual post-fight discourse with some speculation on potential match ups after the announced UFC/WEC merger.
Cheick Kongo vs Stefan Struve/Sean McCorckle: Even though the fight was ultimately scored a draw and neither man looked particularly impressive, I still think Kongo has more of a future, especially in testing fighters rising through the ranks. I'd like to see him test out one of these two HW up and comers.
Alexander Gustafson vs Fabio Maldonado: A good fight between two import strikers that would establish the winner as an up-and-comer at 205. I would love to ultimately see the winner of this fight take on the winner of Bonnar/Pokrajak
Paul Sass vs the winner of Paul Taylor/Gabe Ruediger: Sass showed himself to be a legit prospect and an extremely dangerous ground-fighter last night, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves just yet. I think taking on the winner of the Taylor/Ruediger fight is an appropriate incremental step up in competition for Sass. If he can dominate either of those two guys on the ground like he did Hoist then he may be destined for the top 10 in the UFC.
Mike Pyle vs Diego Sanchez/Paulo Thiago: I think this is just a solid fight that would take one of these three top 15 WW's and put them into the top 10. All three are decent strikers and fantastic grapplers so however they end up being matched, it is a good fight.
Carlos Condit vs Thiago Alves/John Howard: This was a tough fight to figure out. A lot of the UFC's top WW are either tied up, or just don't make sense for Condit. For example, initially I liked Condit against the winner of Penn/Hughes, but with Penn likely to go down to LW after this fight and with Hughes being on his "retirement tour" and likely fighting the winner of Parisyan/Hallman, I don't think that's ultimately the way to go. So this isn't really choice matchmaking timing wise, but assuming Alves beats Howard and Condit can wait until Feb/March to fight, Condit vs Alves would be a fantastic bout. You know Condit will have no interest in taking the fight to the ground and fans could look forward to seeing these guys go toe to toe until someone goes down. The bout will either set Condit up as a number one contender or re-establish Alves as a dominant WW.
Micheal Bisping vs Jon Fitch: If the swirling rumors of Fitch moving to MW are true, this is the perfect fight to determine the next number one contender. Fitch is currently riding a 5 fight win streak capped off with an extremely impressive win over #3 WW in the world, Thiago Alves. Bisping has put together back to back impressive performances and a win over Fitch, the #5 P4P fighter in the world would more than qualify him for a shot at the title. With Marquardt, Leben, Maia, Okami, and Sonnen all unavailable, this fight, while unorthodox, just makes the most sense. The winner either sets up a highly lucrative UK bout between Bisping and Silva or a highly meaningful fight between the number one and number five pound for pound fighters in the world.
WEC Merger Matchmaking
Shane Roller vs Volkman/Mckee A battle between 2 of the 3 better wrestlers at 155. It would be intriguing to see who's grappling style would dominate between these three.
Shalarous/Palaszweski winner vs Guida/Gomi A good battle of mid-tier '55 pounders looking to break into the top ten. All four guys are on redemption runs and I would enjoy seeing "who wants it more".
Varner vs Sherk: Just a solid fight between two 155 lb stalwarts. Both are excellent strikers and wrestlers with Varner having the edge in power and Sherk having the wrestling edge. Would be very interesting to see how this fight shakes down.
Cerrone vs Guilard: The Yves Edwards/Melvin Guilard fight completely confounded me and for the purpose of match-making Im going to assume Guilard smashes Edwards. With that being said, any MMA fan, casual or hardcore, would love to see this fight. Not only is this a fight almost guaranteed to produce excitement, it would establish one guy as being near a title shot.
Henderson/Pettis winner vs Lauzon/Sotiropolous winner: At this stage, this fight is obviously very speculative considering we have no way of knowing how these four will ultimately meet as two. Regardless of that fact, I just love the idea of having a "mini" four man tournament of the the 155 lb division's hottest prospects.
Jose Aldo vs Edgar/Maynard: Obviously the first fight on everyone's mind when considering a WEC merger; Jose Aldo vs the UFC LW champ. Depending on who wins the upcoming Maynard/Edgar clash we could be looking at two very different fights for the title. If Edgar wins, we will see how Aldo's standup game and cardio holds up against Edgar's lightning quick boxing and endless stamina. If Maynard takes the belt, we will almost certainly see Aldo's rumored grappling prowess tested against Maynard's fifteen tons of stifling top pressure. Regardless of how the 3 will be matched up, we will likely see an undisputed number 3 possibly even number 2 P4P fighter crowned.