Playing fantasy matchmaker is one of the most enjoyable things to do for mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, and with UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" behind us, we put ourselves in Joe Silva's shoes to play matchmaker for both event's main card winners.
UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" is in the books and in the organization's second pay-per-view (PPV) event of 2013, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) delivered a scintillating night of mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
Ronda Rousey, Lyoto Machida, Urijah Faber, Court McGee and Robbie Lawler were the big winners Saturday night (Feb. 23, 2013) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., as each picked up a victory over their respective opponents on the main card, which aired on pay-per-view (PPV).
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.
Winner: Robbie Lawler
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada at UFC on FUEL TV 8
Why They Should Fight: Despite scoring an upset win over Josh Koscheck at UFC 157 that marked an emphatic re-entry to the Octagon, Robbie Lawler should not be rushed up the welterweight ladder too quickly, regardless of the fact he just beat a top-10 opponent.
Lawler looked phenomenal in his first 170-pound fight in nearly 10-years, finishing Koscheck off with strikes in the first round of the UFC 157 PPV opener. The 30-year-old proved he is still a threat in to anyone and after arguably the biggest win of his career it only makes sense to let Lawler try and build his momentum further by putting him in some winnable fights against mid-tier opposition.
Kim is a smothering grappler with a solid 7-2 record in the UFC, and his style of fighting would arguably pose an even bigger threat to "Ruthless" than Koscheck. Lawler was able to stuff or get up from Koscheck's takedown attempts, but Kim's ability to control his opponents is arguably on another level. If Lawler could get by Koscheck and Kim in back-to-back fights, it's would be hard to say there's anyone out there's who's grappling he can't stop.
Bahadurzada can knock opponents out with the best of them and a fight with Lawler could end in a highlight reel is both men aren't careful. "The Great" is viewed as the underdog to Kim, but if he can win that would likely mean he scored a knockout win. Considering the knockout power possessed by both, a match up with Lawler would be one to salivate over for fans of striking in MMA.
It the winner of Kim vs. Bahadurzada come out unscathed, the timing for a match up with Lawler would line up perfectly.
Winner: Court McGee
Who He Should Fight Next: Pascal Krauss
Why They Should Fight: Court McGee took out a tough veteran of the sport in Josh Neer in his first fight in the welterweight division and looked much more comfortable inside the Octagon than we have ever seen him before. After going 3-2 in his stint at middleweight, McGee found a new home at welterweight. With a new home comes a slew of new opponents for "The Crusher" to face.
Considering McGee is a winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show, the UFC will likely bring him along slowly in the weight class and not throw any insanely difficult match ups his way.
A good opponent for McGee would be against Pascal Krauss, who dismantled Mike Stumpft at UFC on FOX 6 last month. The German can strike, wrestle and grapple fairly well which would pose as a good style match up for McGee.
A fight between McGee and Krauss certainly isn't going to sell out any arenas anywhere, but it's a solid 170-pound contest that the UFC could throw on the televised preliminary portion of any fight card.
Winner: Urijah Faber
Who He Should Fight Next: Eddie Wineland or Raphael Assuncao
Why They Should Fight: Urijah Faber is at a point in his career where he has fought so many of the best guys at 135-pounds and 145-pounds over the course of his stints with the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC). If you're looking to put Faber in the cage with top-flight opposition, there are slim pickings and at this point most of his fights are going to be rematches.
"The California Kid" already holds wins over Eddie Wineland and Raphael Assuncao; however, both were competitive fights and since those match ups took place, all three fighters have improved their skills dramatically.
Few people, including this writer, want to see Faber anywhere near a title shot at this point. With interim 135-pound champion Renan Barao likely to wait for Dominick Cruz to return to action this summer, Faber will need at least one more win to get a sniff of a title fight.
The Team Alpha-Male product defeated Wineland by unanimous decision in his UFC debut in March 2011. The two had a good scrap that saw Wineland give Faber troubles early with his boxing skills and takedown defense, but as the fight wore on Faber's relentlessness allowed him to overtake the action and win a decision. Wineland has gone 2-1 since that bout, defeating Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett in impressive fashion.
Faber shared the cage with Assuncao back in early 2010 back in their WEC days. The fight was contested at featherweight, but since then both have dropped down to the bantamweight division to reinvigorate their careers. Faber submitted Assuncao in the third round of that meeting, but since then the Brazilian has moved to 135-pounds where he is 3-0 in the UFC.
Both potential match ups have history behind them and are good for the weight class., especially if Faber loses because anyone who beats him is an immediate contender. The UFC could sell either fight and given the timeframe of the Cruz vs. Barao unification bout, there's a good chance the winner could fight for the gold next.
Winner: Lyoto Machida
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 159
Why They Should Fight: According to UFC President Dana White, Lyoto Machida earned a shot at fighting the winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen for the UFC light heavyweight title with his split decision win over Dan Henderson at UFC 157.
Machida has done everything the UFC has asked of him over the past year. He delivered the most impressive performance of the night back at UFC on FOX 4 last August when he knocked out Ryan Bader and was later promised a shot at the title. And although that never came to fruition, the Brazilian has been given a similar assurance after beating Henderson.
Even after the win over "Hendo," Machida may or may not still have some work to do, despite White saying he is the man.
If Henderson won at UFC 157 he probably would have been fighting for the belt but in Machida's case, the UFC will probably wait to see what happens in a few upcoming fights before booking the next 205-pound title fight, despite the fact White said Machida would be the next title challenger.
One of those match ups is Alexander Gustafsson vs. Gegard Mousasi at UFC on FUEL TV 9. If "The Mauler" can defeat Mousasi he will have seven UFC wins in a row and a very good argument for a title shot. If he loses, Machida's chances of getting the next title fight go up.
Second would be Daniel Cormier, who fights Frank Mir in his UFC debut at UFC on FOX 7. "DC" has not made any commitments to dropping down to 205-pounds, but Jones and the former Olympian have gone back and forth for a while now and it's not difficult to see a situation where the UFC gives him an immediate title fight against Jones if Cormier can get by Mir.
If the UFC is going to pass over Machida again and just give him fights to keep him preoccupied, it would be fun to see him in a trilogy bout with Mauricio Rua or possibly a rematch with Rashad Evans, despite the fact both men are coming off losses in their last fights.
Winner: Ronda Rousey
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano at TUF 17 Finale
Why They Should Fight: While it wasn't without drama, Ronda Rousey got the job done in her UFC debut when she submitted Liz Carmouche with an armbar in a thrilling one-round battle to defend her women's bantamweight title for the first time.
There was a tremendous amount of pressure on the 26-year-old going in to the first women's fight in UFC history, but she handled it all in stride and came out on top in the most important moment of his MMA career thus far.
Considering the fact there is only one other female fight currently booked under the UFC banner --Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale-- Rousey's next fight kind of books itself.
Both Tate and Zingano are worthy of facing Rousey, the former Olympian says it's a fight that interests her and that's really all there is to it.
For a lengthy explanation on the entire situation and what "Rowdy" should do next, read "Who Is Next For Ronda Rousey?"
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.