Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pulled off another spectacular event last night (Sat., May 5, 2012) as UFC on FOX 3: "Diaz vs. Miller" went off without a hitch at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The card featured several emerging stars who stepped up and made a name for themselves with mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who may have been previously unaware of their abilities. We also saw a few fighters who looked to push their status from the "prospect" category to the "title contender" distinction.
Earlier today, we talked about what the future may hold for the main and co-main event winners, Nate Diaz and Johny Hendricks. For Diaz, it looks like a certainty he will sit out and face the winner of the September showdown between Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson and former champion Frankie Edgar.
For Hendricks, we speculated that the best match-up may be one between the former NCAA Division I champion wrestler and welterweight phenom, Rory MacDonald.
Lavar Johnson came crashing into the Octagon (and our hearts) for the first time when he took on Joey Beltran and his seemingly granite chin at UFC on FOX 2: "Evans vs. Davis," in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 28, 2012.
The fight ended early and violently as Johnson did what previously had seemed impossible -- he knocked "The Mexicutioner" out cold.
Apparently, Johnson likes fighting on FOX, because his results against Pat Barry at UFC on FOX 3 were nearly identical. With less than one minute to go in the first round, he went to work, landing haymakers and uppercuts galore.
What may be most impressive is "HD" staying on his feet as long as he did. He took a ton of punishment, but a person can only withstand getting slammed by ham-hocks like those for so long. Eventually, the knees say "no mas," which is exactly what happened here.
Unfortunately, the win wasn't without flaw. There was a minute, after being taken down, where Johnson looked vulnerable to a submission. Lucky for him, he was facing a fighter who isn't going to be awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) black belt any time soon.
Johnson's last four losses came by way of submission. It's clearly something he needs to work on. Thankfully, there aren't a ton of fighters in the UFC's heavyweight division that are going to test this weakness, but there certainly are a few.
In light of this, I have two choices for prospective dance partners for Johnson his next time out to the cage.
First, has anyone seen Shane Carwin? Paging Mr. Carwin. Your services are needed in the Octagon. Seriously, it makes for a great match-up. Two behemoths who throw giant hands with lethal intentions?
Additionally, "The Engineer" is a fine wrestler. I believe he could put Johnson and his ground game to the test. Unfortunately, there's no real guarantee Carwin will be available any time soon. He's projected to make his return midway through 2012. We'll see.
If Carwin's not an option, I'd like to see Johnson get the winner of Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman. Both fighters love to put on exciting battles, and I think they both (particularly Nelson) have enough of a ground game to give Johnson a bigger test than Barry did.
Alan Belcher is one of those guys that you're just not sure what to do with. He's been telling us he's the best middleweight in the world for a while now. The problem was that nobody believed him.
I'm not saying he's made me believe to that extent, but his win over Rousimar Palhares was impressive, to say the least. He went to the ground with a guy who many believed to be the best submission practitioner in the 185-pound division and beat him at his own game.
He'd like a title shot. I can't blame him, but I can't oblige him either, particularly because there's a bit of a logjam at the top of his weight class.
Anderson Silva will take on Chael Sonnen to defend his title at UFC 148 on July 7. Michael Bisping will take on Tim Boetsch on the same card. Mark Munoz will fight Chris Weidman at UFC on Fuel TV 4, on July 11, 2012. You've also got Brian Stann fighting Hector Lombard at UFC on Fox 4, on Aug. 4, 2012
Belcher should get one of those guys as his next opponent, but who?
It's so hard to say at this point, because who wins those fights will have a big impact on the way the subsequent matches are made. Of the three winners, one will get the next title shot, which leaves us two potential suitors for Belcher.
Of the three, the winner of the fight between Munoz and Weidman seems least likely to get the next crack at the belt. You can dislike that out of loyalty to either fighter, but it's true. So, it seems soundest to me to think that Belcher's next opponent may very well be Munoz or Weidman. I can live with that, and it makes for a very intriguing match up.
Anyway, that's what we came up with. Who would you Maniacs like to see Lavar Johnson and Alan Belcher take on next?