Ill start with the most important ones:
George Sotiroplolous vs the loser of Florian/Maynard
With Florian you have almost the exact same skill set as George. Crisp, precise boxing, excellent BJJ, good gas, and decent wrestling. These two matchup so evenly you can’t help but find it a fascinating clash.
With Maynard you have a single, ultra-interesting question. Can Sotiropolous’s unorthodox Rubber Guard effectively counter Maynard’s stifling top control? Either way this shakes down, it’s a fun fight that also sets up a potential number one contender at 155.
Takanori Gomi vs winner of Stephens/Guillard
As the saying goes, you really can't make a bad match at 155, but some just stand out more than others, this is one of them. All three of these men bring absurd power to 155 and watching any combination of these three going at it would be absolute fireworks. If you make this fight, when a winner shakes out, it will be one of the first times at lightweight that we would have a top contender with absolute crushing power.
Matt Hughes vs winner of Condit/Hardy
I think a lot of people want the obvious choice in Hughes/Hallman 3 but lets not sell Hughes short here. After the performance he put on against Almeida it's not ridiculous to imagine Hughes as a contender again at 170. I love this match for a lot of reasons. For one, these are basically the two best guys at WW that Hughes has a great shot at beating. Both are tough, gritty strikers, with very poor wrestling. Also the potential back and forth between Hughes and Hardy, should Hardy defeat Condit, would be epic.
Thiago Alves vs winner of John Hathaway/Mike Pyle
Assuming John Hathaway can get through Mike Pyle, this would be an excellent fight. The winner here comes out a top 3 or 4 welterweight and becomes a potential threat to GSP, solid stuff for the division. Does Hathaway bring a wrestling game to the table that could recreate John Fitch’s success? Is his budding striking game that handled Sanchez enough to contend with the “Pitbull’s”? Or will Thiago Alves sprawl and Brawl himself right back into the undisputed number three spot at 170 lbs?
Chael Sonnen vs winner of Bisping/Akiyama
Let’s be honest here, as much as you may want to see it, having Sonnen wait for Silva until 2011 is just unrealistic. If the rumors of UFC 117 doing nearly 1 million buys are true, then it’s obvious that Chaeil Sonnen is a hot commodity right now. This guy, in the right kind of fight, can do Brock Lesnar numbers. There is absolutely no sense in letting the heat die down on Sonnen just to wait on the rematch. If Sonnen wins a tune up fight while waiting, it just reignites the fire and the demand for the Silva fight that would slowly die should the UFC wait. And no offense to either Bisping or Akiyama but neither man is going to put Sonnen in any kind of huge danger of losing his chance at a Silva rematch. Now with either Akiyama or Bisping you have Sonnen facing a foreigner which is going to produce gold; but if Bisping manages to pull off the win against Akiyama the UFC could expect a media BONANZA leading up to that fight. Bisping/Sonnen for the title shot against Silva as a co-main event to GSP/Koscheck 2 coming off TUF would pretty much be a 1 million buys lock for Zuffa.
Yushin Okami vs winner of Marquardt/Paul Harris
Divisionally, this fight just makes sense. Okami has put on back to back devastating performances since having his title hopes derailed by Sonnen and Marquardt was all but locked in for his own 2nd shot at the title before the same man derailed him as well. With all the talk of GSP/Silva, Sonnen/Silva 2, and Belfort/Silva, people are tending to forget that there IS a middleweight division and whatever happens with those names at the top, the "next up" ticket for the title shot needs to be printed at some point and if Marquadt/Paul Harris vs Okami doesn’t lock someone in, it will at leastbput them damn close to the title.
Phil Davis vs winner of Ortiz/Hamill
While everyone has been rightfully losing their minds over the brilliance of Jon Jones another top flight contender has been quietly putting his work in on UFC undercards. After completely man-handling the likes of Stann and Wallace, and putting the stamp on Gustaffson, it's more than high time that Phil Davis get's some main card treatment and a real test at 205.
Taking on the winner of Ortiz/Hamill will do both things. With Ortiz you have the never-ending name recognition with the fans that could shoot Davis right up on the heels of Jon Jones. Or with Hamill, you have an extremely tough test at 205, a guy who technically hasn't been beat since 2008. Either way it's an excellent fight for Jones.
Forrest Griffin vs Thiago Silva
Call me a softy for Griffin but I really feel bad for this guy. When Shogun, Rampage, Rashad, and Anderson Silva make up 4 of your last five opponents, you've had a rough couple years. That being said, having Griffin fight Silva does a lot of important things beyond giving the guy a break.
First of all, like I just said, Im not at all opposed to giving Griffin a break from the ultra-elite of the division, it would be nice to see where his skills are at when he's not completely in the deep end of 205.
Also, Im of the personal opinion that Griffin is still a bonafide top 5-7 LHW despite his ups and downs versus elite competition and a fight with Silva will prove whether or not that is actually the case. Thiago is a guy who is going to smash the Jardines of the world and get hustled by the likes of Machida or Evans. So this fight will answer what has gotten to be a frustrating debate among MMA fans. Is Griffin more like a Jardine, or an Evans?
Rich Franklin vs Jone Jones
This one is pretty obvious. It has become clear that Jones is more than enough for the likes of Verra and Hamill, but ZUFFA has also been explicit that they don't want him immediately shoved into the title picture so Franklin is your perfect happy medium. Franklin's position in the division is tailor made for Jon Jones. He's sent the unworthy like Wand, Hamill, Liddell and Okami back to the drawing boards in their title campaigns, and he's launched guys like Belfort and Henderson into immediate title contention.
Besides the division logistics, Franklins veteran status along with his ability to threaten with power and technical striking on his feet, and slick BJJ off of his back unlike anyone Jones has faced, will make him stylistically a perfect opponent for “Bones” at this point.
Bader/lil Nog winner vs Rampage/Machida winner
This one is kind of a no brainer. You need a title challenger ready for the winner of Shogun/Rashad and this is the perfect way to do it. It's doubtful that you could round up the winner of the Franklin/Jones or Griffin/Silva matchups I proposed, fast enough, so this makes the most sense on the timeline. Besides that, whoever comes out the top man of what is essentially a Rampage, Machida, Lil Nog, Bader 4 man tourney, will easily be the number one contender in my book.
Duffee/Madsen winner vs Kongo/Browne winner
For all the talk of how stacked the “new” heavyweight division is, after Dos Santos squares off with the winner of Cain/Brock, the division is all dried up in terms of new and interesting title contenders. This is a nice little set up to deterine who is going to step up to the Gonagas and Mir’s of the HW division and work their way towards becoming the next guy to talk about at 205+.
Gonzaga/Shcaub winner vs Big Nog/Mir winner
I like this matchup because their are just so many possibilities and their all a lot of fun. We could see a matchup of so-so strikers and elite BJJ fighters in a Big Nog/Gonzaga tilt. Or we could see Shcaub try and re-establish Mir as a guy who can’t take hard shots. Or anything in between. The fact is, there’s not a lot of guys in the HW division that hold that not quite “elite” but still not “undercard material” status and this would be a nice way to establish a pecking order among the few that there are.
Loser of Lesnar/Valesquez vs winner of Carwin/Nelson
This one is a no brainer. If Carwin defeats Nelson, he’s still going to have to wait for the Dos Santos title fight and taking on the loser of the former title fight is the perfect way to not only keep the division busy, but set up some really interesting fights. I think any sane MMA fan can get behind the idea of Lesnar/Carwin 2, even if it isn’t in a five rounder. Besides, I think these men have already pretty clearly established that those final two bells aren’t at all necessary anyway. Conversely who wouldn’t get pumped about the two biggest prospects in UFC history finally squaring off with Cain/Carwin?
Now some extra’s that aren’t particularly important, but I just like
Clay Guida vs the winner of Miller/Tibau
A solid, extremely exciting match that would take the winner from the middle of the pack to contender status.
Johnny Hendricks vs Dong Hyun Kim
Both of these guys have been on fire in the ww division over the past year and a half. With this fight we have two top position grapplers that would matchup to determine who becomes a top 5 welterweight and who hangs around with the middle of the pack. Not to mention, no matter who wins here, we get a fresh face at the top of the division, which is always nice.
Matt Serra vs Nate Diaz
Yes, I know that both these men are currently tied up in fights, but both fights are extremely winnable for each fighter and hey, who’s to say that if one or both of them lose they can’t still go head to head? The bottom line is, if we learned anything from UFC 117, it’s that talk is in fact, NOT cheap. These two men are two of the better, if not two of the best at 170 when it comes to running your mouth. Besides the fact that this is an extremely fun fight, with the potential for everything from scramble-fest grappling to wild punch for punch exchanges, the lead up to this bout could be epic and it very well could hold it’s own atop the upcoming TUF 12 finale.
Mark Hunt vs Pat Barry
Do I really need to explain this one? Two ACTUAL K1-level heavyweight strikers with no concept of what a ground game is, set this one on an UFN opener or the anchor to a Spike portion of a PPV broadcast and you’ve got gold.
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