A return trip to Brazil for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was predominantly entertaining, minus the snoozefest main event, which was slightly expected.
The other five bouts on the card were quite entertaining to say the least, capping off a night that would have pleased any diehard fan, whichever his or her favorite fighting style may be.
That being said, main card competitors Jake Shields, Dong Hyun Kim, Thiago Silva, Fabio Maldonado, Rousimar Palhares and Raphael Assuncao all picked up victories on Wednesday night (Oct.9, 2013) at Ginaso Jose Correa in Barueri, Brazil, which means it's time to anticipate their next moves in their respective weight classes.
Indeed, after every fight card, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are already thinking about what the future holds for the stars of the show. With another night of action-packed fights, let's peer into our crystal ball and predict possible matchmaking scenarios.
Here we go, from bottom to top:
Winner: Raphael Assuncao
Who He Should Fight Next: Alex Caceres
Why They Should Fight: This would be more of a step up for "Bruce Leeroy" than a duel to prove Assuncao's worth, since the Brazilian is now on a five-fight winning streak. Those opponents have been questionable in deciding if he has what it takes to compete for a title anytime soon, with T.J. Dillashaw being the most impressive win, and it was close, too.
It would be a pleasure for Caceres to fight anywhere Assuncao desires, whether it be on the feet or on the mat, and with that being said, their ground battles would be a joy to watch since both have a niche for scrambling uncontrollably to avoid punishment.
Maybe Assuncao possesses an advantage on the ground and would be favored, but dominant performance would help his cause in challenging the division's elite.
Winner: Rousimar Palhares
Who He Should Fight Next: Stephen Thompson
Why They Should Fight: A classic clash of styles would be the story for this potential match-up and with both men back on track, it makes sense to book this fight.
Palhares pretty much saved his job with another big submission win and Stephen Thompson has returned to winning ways as of late, riding a two-fight win streak. We could find out a lot in this fight about where both men stand and what their weaknesses are.
One would figure Palhares would want to take the fight to the ground immediately and though his ground game is much better than the one of "Wonderboy," Thompson showed in his last fight against Chris Clements at UFC 165 that he has improved immensely with his wrestling. Nothing to rush with these two athletes, so this fight would be a good test for them both and give us an answer as to who should move onward to higher-level opponents.
Winner: Fabio Maldonado
Who He Should Fight Next: Cyrille Diabate
Why They Should Fight: Whether or not his split-decision win over Joey Beltran was a questionable call, no way should Maldonado get a top-10opponent. He is tough as nails and he does have a granite chin, but he should face another striker that he can benefit making an example out of how to be successful moving forward.
Cyrille Diabate is an experience kickboxer than can trouble Maldonado but more importantly for us, these two men could unleash a brutal and violent stand-up war with no need for takedowns (however, we do not decide that).
Diabate is coming off a loss to Jimi Manuwa at UFC on FUEL TV 7 earlier this year, in which he was unable to answer the bell for the second round because of a leg injury. That shouldn't matter, it's not like one of these men has a superior edge over the other moving forward. Nothing more than a fun fight here.
Winner: Thiago Silva
Who He Should Fight Next: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Why They Should Fight: Thiago Silva certainly will not play it safe or prance around if he comes face-to-face with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Silva had some trouble with Matt Hamill early on in his fight last night and we could soon find out if he had injury troubles going into this fight, not to mention his inability to make weight.
Silva is in need of another top dog if he wants to climb the light heavyweight ladder and become dangerous to those ahead of him and an experienced vet like Nogueira would be the perfect match.
We can find out if Silva has improved on the ground, and that would be a difficult place for him to achieve against a jiu-jitsu legend like Lil' Nog. However, Nogueira has preferred to trade as of late, and nobody would have a problem seeing these two Brazilians slug it out. When Lil' Nog comes back from his injury, this is the fight to book.
Winner: Dong Hyun Kim
Who He Should Fight Next: Jake Ellenberger
Why They Should Fight: Even if "Stun Gun" defeated Erick Silva with one punch and knocked him out, we should not jump to conclusions that he is a striker. He does have a pretty decent chin, though.
Jake Ellenberger would have an advantage in that department; however, the thought of these two engaging in grappling battles and how they would prepare for each other's punches is intriguing.
Ellenberger is angling for a second fight against Martin Kampmann and yes, that fight does make sense since they are both coming off losses, and a fight against "Stun Gun" would benefit both.
If Kim wins, he shows his worth in a fruitful pack and moves up to challenge the division's finest. Ellenberger would show us that his fight against Rory MacDonald was a mere slip up. If we can get past the fact that Ellenberger should be fighting someone who has just lost, we can appreciate this fight if it was on the horizon.
Winner: Jake Shields
Who He Should Fight Next: Tarec Saffedine
Why They Should Fight: Shields should not anticipate anything big on his plate after defeating Demian Maia by split decision. A match-up with a wrestling and jiu-jitsu-based striker would be satisfactory for him and with the experience that both men have, it would be a highly anticipated match-up wherever it would take place, on pay-per-view (PPV) or free television.
Saffedine's stand-up against Nate Marquardt in his last fight in January of this year saw him brutalize his opponent's legs and use his techniques efficiently, fighting smart rather than rushing in and playing his opponent's game.
It does not take a scientist to figure out Shields' gameplan, as he is going to take someone down and smother him until the horn sounds. Saffedine may have an edge in the stand-up and Shields may have an advantage on the ground, but would they be eager to play one another's game?
Those are five potential matches to make. What are yours?
For more news, notes and reactions from UFC Fight Night 29, including fight video highlights and play-by-play coverage of all the action from Brazil, check out our "Maia vs. Shields" live coverage story stream by clicking here.