A log jam sometimes feels great
UFC 148 has come and passed and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) still has a very, very dominant middleweight champion in Anderson Silva. Chael Sonnen has been sent to the 'back of the line' by UFC president Dana White aswell.
Over the next few months we will see who is stepping up to the plate to face the 'Spider'. Silva has stopped Chael Sonnen (twice), Yushin Okami and Vitor Belfort in his last few outings. His dominance shied away Demian Maia from middleweight, the UFC has cut Travis Lutter and Thales Leites.
Just when you think you know the answers, Anderson Silva changes the questions
Match ups of Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch (UFC 149) and Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman (UFC on Fuel TV) could solve that question. The
love fight triangle Michael Bisping/Alan Blecher/Brian Stann could produce a contender aswell. What about Vitor Belfort? and then there is the wildcard, Rashad Evans
UFC on Fuel TV 4 features a main event of heavy handed wrestlers Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman. Munoz missed out on a UFC on FOX slot against Chael Sonnen and so he had to take a step back. Weidman is coming off a lackluster Fox showcasing in which he beat Demian Maia for three rounds with no spice.
Munoz is on a four win streak that includes stoppages of Chris Leben and C.B. Dollaway and is 7-2 in his nine outings. Munoz is even more impressive that he is 8-1 at middleweight since a horrid outing against Matt Hamill at UFC 96. Munoz' storyline is that he has actually trained with Anderson Silva which may give him an edge since he has worked with Silva and his tendencies.
Munoz is currently ranked at #3 on the SBnation mixed martial arts (MMA) rankings as of July. His opponent, Chris Weidman has cracked the top ten at number 9 and sits a spot above Briant Stann.
Weidman is a product of Serra-Longo and has taken the UFC by storm, he holds wins over Alessio Sakara, Tom Lawlor and Demian Maia of note. Weidman is 8-0 since his professional debut in 2009 and has five stoppages (two in the UFC).
The two-time All-American NCAA D-1 wrestler from Hofstra University hasn't had the huge fight to put him on the minds of everyone when talking number one contender, yet. A win over Mark Munoz and I guarantee he'll be ver close to facing the 'Spider' then he was today.
Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch features the UFC debut of the former Bellator Fighting Championship middleweight champion. The original match up was Michael Bisping vs. Tim Boetsch but a lingering injury forced Bisping out of the fight in Calgary.
Does this one not entertain you?
Lombard is a heavy handed judoka bad ass who has made Friday night TV a must see when he was on. Lombard was suppose to debut at UFC 78 against Karo Parisyan but visa issues negated that. Lombard spent over two years smashing the likes of Jay Silva, Trevor Prangley, Alexander Shlemenko and Jesse Taylor.
Lombard is currently riding a 23-fight win streak that dates back to PRIDE Bushido 13 where he lost to Gegard Mousasi. Lombard has 24 stoppages (17 KO/TKO's and 7 Submissions) and six of his last seven fights have ended by stoppage.
Boetsch was last seen smashing Yushin Okami at UFC 144 after taking a shellacking for two rounds prior to the dramatic third. The TKO of Okami pushed the 'Barbarian' to a three fight win streak who is also unbeaten at middleweight.
Boetsch looks like a guy who should've fought at UFC 5 and has the head of granite. He has been stopped twice in 19 fights (1 KO/TKO, 1 Submission).Three of his losses have come to some of the best wrestlers like Phil Davis, Matt Hamill and Jason Brilz. As mentioned, Boetsch broke the cycle when he rallied against of one of the best wrestlers in Okami.
Lomabrd's judo meet Boetsch's 'redneck' judo
Ah, yes the torrid triangle of strikers as Brian Stann, Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping try and lobbly one another. Bisping recently called out Belcher for UFC 152 in Toronto and apparently Belcher agreed. Stann then went on the record and wants Bisping.
Who wants Brain Stann? it would appear no one because beating an American war hero is bad. Stann is ranked at #10 and was scheduled to fight Hector Lombard in the main event of UFC on FOX 4 but a shoulder injury put Stann in M*A*S*H. Hawkeye has fixed Brian Stann but does a win over Sakara warrant another jump into the title hunt?. UFC 136 showed the divide between an elite contender like Sonnen and Briant Stann.
Michael Bisping was in a razor thin decision with Sonnen but like most of Bisping's top billed fights-close was not good enough. The 'Count' is a wiley bastard who has stayed afloat even with his hoards of haters loving every chance they get to put down the Brit'. Bsiping has smashed the pretenders like Jason Miller, Jorge Rivera and Yoshiro Akiyama. Bisping is good but if he gets either Belcher or Stann, he will have to show he is worth a marquee match up and if he can get over the hill.
Alan Belcher is known for his bravery as seen by going to the ground with Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FOX 4 and his atrocious Johnny Cash tattoo. The Duke Roofus product has been on a tear which many believe should be a seven-fight win streak but a close decision went to 'Sexyama'. The 'Talent' seems to get no love because he isn't in the top ten even though he has higher ranked wins than Stann, Bisping and Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
I believe the match up to make is Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher but with the UFC and injury may change this triangle entirely.
Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin and Vitor Belfort are three fighters who aren't getting as much play as they may deserve.
Vitor Belfort has had three actual fights at middleweight since his bout with Franklin at UFC 103 was a 195 pound catchweight and a 197 pound tilt with Anthony Johnson at UFC 142. Belfort is 2-1 in his middleweight career which has been glorified by getting his face kicked in by Anderson Silva at UFC 126. I'd give Belfort a chance at redemption because i feel he could beat Anderson Silva if he is all there. I'd like to see him fight Briant Stann at either UFC 152 or in Brazil at UFC 153.
Rich Franklin has returned to the middleweight world after he once dominated before a 'Spider' washed the 'Ace' out. Franklin knowing he could smoke a lot of the middleweight division even after Silva-Franklin II did what the company wanted and went to light heavyweight. Franklin went 2-1 at light heavyweight and 1-1 at 'Franklinweight' aka 195 pounds.
Franklin just beat Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147 in a 190 pound catchweight bout and has asked for a shot at a title run, not unreasonable. A solid fight would be Chael Sonnen but the two fold is that Sonnen beating Franklin may raise Sonnen's stock too high, too quickly. Franklin vs. Cung Le should still happen and start getting the gears in motion for a run.
Rashad Evans even without a single fight at 185 pounds would be someone I'd love to see challenge Anderson Silva. Evans has done more then enough to skip the line that needs to sort it's self out. Nobody from the crowd has separated itself as dominant except for Sonnen who had wins over Okami, Stann and Bisping.
Evans brings an elevated skill set than Sonnen's but one that includes dominant wrestling. Evans does bring superior footwork and striking when compared to Sonnen's which was a glaring hole. Evans has been the underdog numerous times and won which also works in his favor. He was one of few who have not been stopped by Jon Jones and with Jones in the light heavyweight division, the new breed will soon be too big for Evans.
It's one of the last HUGE money fights that will bring people to the dance thinking Evans may do it and does anyone outright think Silva will destroy Evans?.