USA TODAY Sports
Playing fantasy matchmaker is one of the most enjoyable things to do for mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, and with UFC 155: "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2" finally behind us, we put ourselves in Joe Silva's shoes to play matchmaker for both event's main card winners.
UFC 155: "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2" winners is in the books and in the organization's final event of 2012, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) delivered a scintillating night of mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
Cain Velasquez, Jim Miller, Constantinos Philippou and Yushin Okami were the big winners Saturday night (Dec. 29, 2012) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, picking up victories over their respective opponents on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
After every fight card, fans wonder who the winners will be matched up with next. With another night of heart-racing fights in the rear-view mirror, it's time to look forward and put ourselves in Joe Silva's shoes to play UFC matchmaker.
Here we go:
Winner: Derek Brunson
Who He Should Fight Next: Chris Camozzi
Why They Should Fight: Derek Brunson's Octagon debut wasn't anything to write home about, but he did get the job done, defeating longtime UFC veteran Chris Leben in a fairly clear-cut decision for the biggest victory of his short career.
Brunson's performance showed he is talented and above all -- a UFC-caliber athlete. However, his skillset is still very raw and he needs more time to develop before getting a serious step up in competition.
Camozzi is currently riding a three-fight win-streak inside the Octagon, but just like Brunson, is not ready to take on the elite of the division just yet. Matching up Brunson against Camozzi would be an interesting stylistic match up and would allow both competitors to share the cage with an opponent of a similar talent level.
Brunson certainly won't be getting a shot on a pay-per-view (PPV) main card again anytime soon after his fight with Leben, but Brunson vs. Camozzi would be more than suitable for a FUEL TV event or the "Prelims" of a FOX or PPV fight card.
Winner: Yushin Okami
Who He Should Fight Next: Hector Lombard
Why They Should Fight: Following Hector Lombard's knockout of Rousimar Palhares earlier this month, I called for the Cuban to face the winner of Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 155. Since Okami came out the victor by way of decision, now is as good of a time as any to book a match up between "Thunder" and "Lightning."
Lombard proved at UFC on FX 6 that he is capable of defeating UFC-caliber athletes, living up to what fans expected from him when he was signed to the promotion earlier this year. Lombard has made it very public that he wants to make a run toward the middleweight title; however, he needs to beat an established opponent like Okami first.
The Cuban proved worthy of a fight against a Top 10 opponent with his knockout of "Toquinho" and at 35 years of age, Lombard may not have much time left to climb to the top of the ladder. Even though he called for a fight with Michael Bisping following his knockout of Palhares, a match up against Okami would be a more suitable next step for Lombard.
As in any Okami fight, the Japanese fighter would force Lombard to deal with one of the best grapplers in the division. And on the flip side, it would be interesting to see how the Okami would react to Lombard's massive power punches and Olympic-level judo skills.
Lombard vs. Okami is a win-win for everyone involved. If Lombard wins, he picks up a victory over a top-10 middleweight and continues his quest towards a title shot. If Okami wins, he shuts down the hype of another talented 185-pounder would steal the momentum of Lombard, who before his UFC debut last July was being hyped as a future title challenger.
Considering the point both men are at in their careers, it's hard to argue this match up doesn't make sense.
Winner: Constantinos Philippou
Who He Should Fight Next: Francis Carmont
Why They Should Fight: Despite the fact nearly everyone thought Francis Carmont lost to Tom Lawlor back at UFC 154, the French-Canadian transplant was awarded the decision win by the judges sitting cage side and kept his undefeated record in the UFC in tact.
Depending on how soon Philippou is ready to compete against after a tough outing against Tim Boetsch, a match up with Carmont, perhaps at UFC 158 in March, would be stellar.
Carmont's fight against Lawlor at UFC 154 was far from exciting and he needs an opponent that can create a fun fight. Philippou seems like the type of fighter who can lull even the most unappealing of opponents into an exciting bout. It would be hard to see a match up with Carmont going any different considering what Philippou has shown in the past.
The biggest weakness in Carmont's game at this point in his career seems to be a difficulty in dealing with fighters that bring the fight to him. Philippou is all about trying to finish his opponents and could be that man. Carmont had a shaky performance in his last outing, but a win -- especially in exciting fashion -- over a surging fighter like Philippou it would go a long way in pushing him back into the heart of fans after an underwhelming effort at UFC 154.
Some might see this match up as a step down for Philippou after defeating a top-10 opponent in Boetsch, but considering the run Carmont has put together thus far in the UFC, he deserves a fight against an opponent in the bottom-tier of the top-10 in the middleweight division. And Philippou is right there.
Winner: Jim Miller
Who He Should Fight Next: Rafael dos Anjos
Why They Should Fight: After picking up big wins at UFC 154 and UFC 154, respectively, Miller and dos Anjos sit in roughly the same middle-of-the-pack spot in the UFC lightweight division. Each man has won and lost some big fights in the UFC and with both having competed within 45-days of each other, the timing would line up to have them fight.
Dos Anjos has showed in his recent wins against Anthony Njokuani and Mark Bocek that his overall game has vastly improved and facing Miller would be a very exciting fight to watch considering both fighter's styles.
In Miller, dos Anjos would face another fighter whose primarily strength lays on the ground and it would be interesting to see if the two fighters opt to stay on the feet and trade punches or if they would prefer to take the fight to the mat and try to prove who is the superior grappler. Either way, Miller vs. Dos Anjos would be a great fight and has the potential to be ‘Fight of the Night' no matter what fight card it ends up on.
Winner: Cain Velasquez
Who He Should Fight Next: Alistair Overeem
Why They Should Fight: Unless the UFC decides to go with an immediate trilogy bout between Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, which is unlikely, it seems that Alistair Overeem is the only fighter who is a logical next opponent for the newly crowned champion Velasquez.
For a length explanation on who the 30-year-old champion should fight next, read "What's Next For Cain Velasquez?"
That ends this edition of Joe Silva's shoes. What do you think of these potential match ups? Do you agree? Disagree?
Let us know in the comments section below what fights you would make if you were in Joe Silva's shoes and played the role of UFC matchmaker.