Joe Silva's shoes: Who should be next for UFC on FOX 7 main card winners?

Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

Playing fantasy matchmaker is one of the most enjoyable things to do for mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, and with UFC on FOX 7: "Henderson vs. Melendez" behind us, we put ourselves in Joe Silva's shoes to play matchmaker for the event's main card winners.

UFC on FOX 7: "Henderson vs. Melendez" is in the books and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) without question delivered the goods in one of -- if not their best network television events to date.

Ben Henderson, Daniel Cormier, Josh Thomson and Matt Brown were the big winners Saturday (April 20, 2013) night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., as each picked up a victory over their respective opponents on the main card, which aired on live and free on FOX.

After every fight card, fans ponder about who the winners of each bout will be matched up with next. With another night of heart-racing fights in the rear-view mirror, it's time to climb into a pair Joe Silva's shoes, look forward and play UFC matchmaker.

Winner: Matt Brown
Who He Should Fight Next: Patrick Cote
Why They Should Fight: Brown picked up a second-round technical knockout win over Jordan Mein to extended his career-high win-streak to five-straight. "The Immortal" moves a few notches up the ranks and with 15 UFC fights under his belt --most of which have proven to be exciting-- Brown is continuously solidifying himself as a mainstay with the organization for the foreseeable future.

With most of the top-10 fighters in the welterweight division booked for fights or coming off a loss, Brown needs to continue his momentum even if it comes in the form of a fight with an opponent ranked below him.

Patrick Cote arrived on the 170-pound scene earlier this year when he made a successful welterweight debut against Bobby Voelker at UFC 158, and it currently on a two-fight win-streak since returning to the UFC in late 2012.

Cote would pose an interesting threat to Brown on the feet because of his heavy hands and experience against elite level talent such as middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Considering neither man has ever been finished with strikes in a combined 54 professional fights, it would be fascinating to see how the fight plays out.

Both competitors are trying to establish themselves as contenders in the welterweight division and a win for either would help them build ground towards that status.

Winner: Josh Thomson
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham at UFC on FX 8
Why They Should Fight: Thomson and the Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham winner are in roughly the same spot in the Lightweight division. With a win over a top-five opponent in Nate Diaz in his UFC re-entry fight, Thomson, like dos Anjos and Dunham, is looking to climb the ladder until he reaches the top.

Thomson showed in his UFC on FOX 7 victory over Diaz that his skills are as sharp as ever and facing either dos Anjos or Dunham would be a very exciting fight to watch.

In dos Anjos, Thomson would face an opponent whose main strength is on the ground. While they are also more than capable strikers, it would be interesting to see if they would opt to stay on the feet and trade punches or prefer to take the fight to the mat and prove who is the superior grappler.

Dunham would pose a similar threat , although he does have a wrestling advantage over dos Anjose that could present some problems to "The Punk." Either way, Thomson vs. dos Anjos or Dunham would be a great fight that has potential to be ‘Fight of the Night' no matter which fight card it ends up on.

Winner: Daniel Cormier
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 159
Why They Should Fight: Cormier's career is highly complicated after his unanimous decision win over Frank Mir in his UFC debut. "DC" is in a rare position where he could easily be the No. 1 contender in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions with only one UFC fight under his belt.

At this stage and from the vibe Cormier gave off post-fight, it seems the 34-year-old is particularly interested in seeing the result of next weekend's UFC 159 headliner between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen. That means Cormier could be on his way to the treadmill to begin work on a drop to the 205-pound weight class.

In the big picture, fighting at light heavyweight makes more sense for the former Olympian if he refuses to fight good friend, training partner and current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez for the title. There's no logic in keeping Cormier at heavyweight where he could knock off potential title contenders if he won't fight for the belt himself.

If Cormier can make the drop in weight in a healthy matter as he claims he can, there is money to be made in potential Cormier vs. Jones and Cormier vs. Sonnen bouts. The latter is unlikely to happen as most expect "Bones" to defeat Sonnen next Saturday (April 27, 2013), but you never know.

Cormier and Jones already have a budding rivalry as they have made comments about one another on Twitter and in interviews, which makes it all the more likely the UFC would give the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product a title shot over the likes of a Lyoto Machida or Alexander Gustafsson.

If Cormier can bring his speed, power and explosiveness down to 205-pounds without sacrificing too much, he may very well be the man to dethrone Jones.

Winner: Benson Henderson
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant at UFC 160
Why They Should Fight: With Anthony Pettis challenging for the featherweight title in the summer, the door is wide open for someone to step up and make their claim at the No. 1 contender spot to Benson Henderson's lightweight crown.

That man will be the winner of the UFC 160's tilt between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant, who UFC President Dana White announced will be the No. 1 contender at the UFC on FOX 7 post-fight press conference (watch it here).

For a lengthy explanation on the entire situation and what "Smooth" should do next, read "Who is next for Benson Henderson?"

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.

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