By Joe Osborne
UFC 125 has come and gone, and any MMA fan would agree that it was by far the best UFC event of 2011 (wink!). There were some stand-out performances that will elevate some fighters to the upper echelon of their respective divisions, while some fighters were less than impressive and will have to go back to the drawing board. Here’s what could be next for UFC 125’s standout performers.
Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard
If there was ever an MMA fight that deserved a draw as a final result, this was it. For all the slack that judges take from fans and media, it’s fair to say that they did a good job scoring this fight. The winner of the match was scheduled to take on Anthony Pettis, but given the draw, it’s only fair that these two will get to face off again, which is exactly what Dana White confirmed following the event. Although this is a fight that fans will want to see, it creates a bit of a log jam in the division as far as future title fights are concerned, as the likes of Pettis, Jim Miller and George Sotiropoulos are all in the mix for a shot at the title. Expect to see Edgar – Maynard 3 sooner than later, possibly even at UFC 129 in Toronto.
As for the fight itself, a lot of credit should be given to both fighters for very strong performances. In an attempt to shed his ‘boring’ label, Maynard put on a great boxing display, while it was business as usual for Frankie Edgar who utilized great foot work and strong wrestling offense and defense to keep the fight close. Props also have to go to referee Yves Lavigne, who gave Edgar a chance to rebound after getting knocked around really good early in the fight.
Stann utilized a great mix of crisp punching and raw aggression to lay a serious beat down on an equally aggressive Chris Leben. Winning in such impressive fashion in the co-main event of a UFC pay-per-view warrants a big fight for any fighter, and things will be no different for Stann. Like a handful of other fighters in the division, Stann called for a fight with Wanderlei Silva, but a fight with Nate Marquardt could be just as, if not more entertaining, and probably makes more sense.
There’s no other way about it, Leben had his ass handed to him on Saturday night. With a victory, he most likely would have entered into the top five in the division, but after the convincing loss, he’ll be forced to start from scratch and try to make his way back up that ladder. The UFC should give the fans what they want to see and pair him up with Wanderlei Silva. It’s a fight that would combine two of the most ferocious strikers in the division, and possibly a fight that would pave the way for Silva to be worthy of a number one contender fight.
After a year layoff, Silva looked great in all aspects of the fight, and is once again right in the mix with the other top contenders in the light heavyweight division. There’s a lot of questions in the division as to who will be the next in line for a title shot after Rashad Evans, but those questions will probably be answered after UFC 125 with two big fights between Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader and also Rich Franklin vs. Forrest Griffin. Silva will probably face off next against the winner of either fight, with a fight against the winner of Franklin/Griffin making the most sense.
Vera has now lost three fights in row, and looked seriously out of his league against Silva. Three loses in a row in the UFC usually equals a pink slip, but they might cut him some slack given the level of competition that he lost to. If Vera isn’t given his walking papers, the UFC might throw him a bone and pair him up with a newcomer to see if he can regain the form that at one time made him one of MMA’s top prospects.
Guida took a page out of Frankie Edgar’s book by using constant movements and great footwork which frustrated Gomi, making him miss on his heavy punch attempts which opened Gomi up for the takedown, which ultimately led to Guida’s impressive submission victory. A fight that would great sense for Guida would be a fight against Jim Miller, however Miller is scheduled to fight Kamal Shalorus at UFC 128. It wouldn’t be the first time the UFC switch opponents, as this would be an opportunity to eliminate a title contender. If the UFC can’t make it happen, Guida would be the perfect opponent to welcome former WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson to the octagon.
Other Fights That Should Happen
Nate Diaz vs. Johnny Hendricks
That’s it for UFC 125. If other events in 2011 can be as good, then we’re in for a great year of fights in the UFC. Don’t agree with my predictions for future fights? Let me know what fights make sense to you and why. Have fun and we’ll do it again after UFC 126 on Super Bowl weekend.
Joe Osborne is a sports and entertainment enthusiast who resides in Halifax, NS. To read more articles like this, visit WhatUpSports.com, or you can contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.