It was a night full of knockouts at UFC Fight Night 32 in Gioania, Brazil, with the most significant one going down in the main event.
It took someone 16 years to stop Dan Henderson via of strikes and "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort stepped up to the plate and finished "Hendo" in the first round with a head kick. In the process, Belfort -- barring injury or calamity --booked his second 185-pound title shot for some time in early 2014.
That being said, main card competitors Vitor Belfort, Cezar Ferreira, Rafael Cavalcante, Ryan LaFlare and Jeremy Stephens all picked up victories on Saturday night (Nov. 9, 2013) at Gioania Arena, 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.
Winner: Vitor Belfort
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 168
Why They Should Fight: After three consecutive headkick knockouts (or at least kicks to the head that facilitated the knockout), "The Phenom" is destined for his second Middleweight title shot.
Belfort avenged his 2006 loss to Henderson at Pride FC 32, becoming the first man to stop "Hendo" by strikes, knocking him out in round one.
If Dana White keeps his promise, Belfort remains the No. 1-ranked contender at Middleweight even though he won at Light Heavyweight. Indeed, after stopping Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping and now "Hendo" in his past three fights it seems inevitable, whether you like it or not.
Winner: Cezar Ferreira
Who He Should Fight Next: Derek Brunson
Why They Should Fight: "Mutante" had difficulty on the feet with Daniel Sarafian, yet he was able to utilize takedowns and a superior ground game to defeat his original The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" winner.
Derek Brunson, who tore apart Brian Houston earlier this week at UFC Fight Night 32: "Fight for Troops 3," has a pretty solid ground game and he showed that he could beat up someone emphatically on the feet, too. Both of these Middleweights could finish fights and they are in similar places, with nothing more to look at in terms of where they stand and what a win in this particular bout would do for them. It is just a good fight to make at this point.
Winner: Rafael Cavalcante
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 33
Why They Should Fight: UFCs 205-pound division is no thinner than the Flyweight and women's Bantamweight divisions. Once referred as the most entertaining weight class in the sport, it is filled with aging veterans and inconsistent athletes.
Although he may be hesitant to face a fellow Brazilian (even though he faced Thiago Silva, but there was bad blood there), if Mauricio Rua can get past James Te Huna in Australia next month, that would be a pivotal clash of Brazilian fighters who would certainly provide us with a great fight. If Te Huna gets the biggest victory of his career, why not throw him in with "Feijao" to see if he can continue his potential win streak over Brazilian fighters?
Winner: Brandon Thatch
Who He Should Fight Next: Dong Hyun Kim
Why They Should Fight: Some may think that it may be too soon for Thatch to face a Top 15-ranked opponent like Kim; however, "Rukus" is 12-1 with every victory coming in the first round, has not tasted defeat since 2008 (which was a split decision loss) and he tore apart Paulo Thiago and Justin Edwards in his UFC appearances with a combined amount of cage time clocking little more than three minutes.
Kim faced adversity to knockout Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 29 and this would be a massive test for the blazing Thatch. Does "Rukus" have much of a ground game? Could he stop a force like "Stun Gun" and prove he is one of the sport's most dangerous prospects?
And if it means anything at all, Thatch obliterated a guy who Kim could not finish over the course of three rounds.
Winner: Ryan LaFlare
Who He Should Fight Next: Yan Cabral
Why They Should Fight: LaFlare started to pour it on in the third round and showed that he is a fighter that is not afraid to risk it all to go for the finish. The undefeated Welterweight made an impressive debut and a stiffer test should follow for the Long Island, N.Y., native.
Cabral, who was victorious in his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 29 against David Mitchell, would be a good fight for LaFlare, matching two opponents who are not afraid to strike and excel on the ground. It would be an intriguing match up between two undefeated fighters with one Octagon win under each of their belts.
Winner: Jeremy Stephens
Who He Should Fight Next: Conor McGregor
Why They Should Fight: After a devastating 40-second knockout victory over Rony Jason on Brazilian soil, Stephens should never be underestimated as one of the 145-pound division's deadliest strikers.
Although there have been several match ups for Ireland's McGregor, this one makes sense as UFC will invade Dublin's 02 Arena in early 2014. With an immeasurable amount of hype behind McGregor, this would be a true test to see if the young phenom has what it takes in the big leagues. Stephens would benefit from a win over a top prospect, while McGregor would show us what he is truly made of with a win over a mainstay like "Lil' Heathen."
Will these potential scraps materialize in the near future?