Joe Silva's shoes: Who should be next for the UFC on FUEL TV 9: 'Mousasi vs. Latifi' main card winners?

COPYRIGHT: Martin McNeil

Playing fantasy matchmaker is one of the most enjoyable things to do for mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, and with UFC on FUEL TV 9: "Mousasi vs. Lafifi" behind us, we put ourselves in Joe Silva's shoes to play matchmaker for both event's main card winners.

UFC on FUEL TV 9: "Mousasi vs. Latifi" is in the books. And in the organization's second-ever event in the country of Sweden, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) delivered a strong card of mixed martial arts (MMA) action from top to bottom under the circumstances.

Gegard Mousasi, Ross Pearson, Matt Mitrione, Brad Pickett, Diego Brandao and Akira Corassani were the big winners Saturday (April 6, 2013) at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, each picking up victories over their respective opponents on the main card, which aired on FUEL TV.

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.

Here we go:

Winner: Akira Corassani
Who He Should Fight Next: Conor McGregor
Why They Should Fight: Despite putting on an absolutely phenomenal performance against Marcus Brimage in his Octagon debut, Conor McGregor should not be pushed too hard up the ladder in the featherweight division.

It would be in the UFC's best interest to allow the 24-year-old to further develop his skillset and become a recognizable name to UFC fans. "Notorious" already has a solid following, but fighting on the "Prelims" portion of a FUEL TV card isn't exactly where stars are made.

Akira Corassani picked up the most significant win of his career when he defeated Robbie Peralta on the UFC on FUEL TV 9 main card and in the process derailed a fighter many believed to be a future contender in the division.

With a career-defining win fresh under his belt, why not give Corassani the chance to take out another prospect in McGregor while giving the Irishman a match up that would test his ground game and give him a chance to put in more cagetime.

Winner: Diego Brandao
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Cole Miller vs. Bart Palaszewski at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale
Why They Should Fight: Diego Brandao and the Cole Miller/Bart Palaszewski winner sit in roughly the same middle-of-the-pack spot in the UFC featherweight division. Each man has won and lost some fights in the UFC and with both having competed within seven days of each other, the timing would line up perfectly for them to fight.

Brandao showed in his win against Pablo Garza at UFC on FUEL TV 9 that his overall game has vastly improved and facing an experienced veteran in either Miller or Palaszewski would be a very exciting fight to watch.

In Miller, Brandao would face another fighter whose primarily strength lays on the ground and it would be interesting to see if the two fighters opt to stay on the feet and trade punches or if they would prefer to take the fight to the mat and prove who the superior grappler is.

Palaszewski would prove the opposite threat as his strength lay on the feet. Either way, Brandao vs. Miller/Palaszewski would be a great fight and has the potential to be ‘Fight of the Night' no matter which fight card it ends up on.

Winner: Brad Pickett
Who He Should Fight Next: Michael McDonald
Why They Should Fight: Following his split decision victory over Mike Easton at UFC on FUEL TV 9, Brad Pickett requested a match up with an opponent ranked higher than himself in the official UFC rankings, specifically naming Michael McDonald as someone who perks his interest.

Fortunately for "One Punch," a majority of the time in the UFC if you ask then you shall receive, especially if what you are asking for makes complete sense.

Pickett was close to earning an interim bantamweight title shot two fights ago before losing to Eddie Wineland, while McDonald was submitted by the interim 135-pound title holder Renan Barao in his last fight.

Although this match up would pit a fighter coming off a win against one coming off a loss, both men are in the Top 5 of the bantamweight division and the winner of this fight would thrust back into title contention in a hurry.

Winner: Matt Mitrione
Who He Should Fight Next: Todd Duffee
Why They Should Fight: The man they call "Meathead" finally got back in the win column after nearly two years with a quick and violent knockout of Phil De Fries in Stockholm.

Mitrione brought an end to a two-fight losing streak and more importantly seems to have regained confidence in his skills with a 19-second knockout victory.

It's clear with his losses to Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson that Mitrione isn't quite ready for the upper echelon of the heavyweight division and needs some more fights to develop against fighters roughly on his level.

Todd Duffee is the perfect opponent for that role.

Both men are coming off first-round knockouts of De Fries, although Mitrione's win was much quicker. Mitrione and Duffee enjoy slugging it out on the feet and while a match up between them likely wouldn't last very long, it would certainly be a fan-pleasing affair.

Winner: Ross Pearson
Who He Should Fight Next: Joe Lauzon
Why They Should Fight: It's really hard to say what Pearson should do next after his victory over Ryan Couture in the co-main event of UFC on FUEL TV 9.

Pearson picked up another impressive victory in the UFC and is 2-0 since returning to the lightweight division in late 2012, but it's difficult to gauge where he sits in the division considering both wins came against opponents who were clearly overmatch by "The Real Deal."

With wins in three of his past four 155-pound bouts, it may be time for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 9 winner to test his skills against a fighter in or on the border of the top-10 in the weight class.

Even though he is coming off a loss, a match up with fan favorite and No. 10 ranked lightweight Joe Lauzon would be absolute fireworks due to the exciting fighting styles both men bring to the table.

Lauzon is not currently booked to fight but is campaigning to get on the UFC on FOX Sports 1 card set to go down in his hometown of Boston in August. Book him verse Pearson and you instantly have a ‘Fight of the Night' candidate on your hands.

Winner: Gegard Mousasi
Who He Should Fight Next: Any Top 10 light heavyweight
Why They Should Fight: Since Mousasi is going to go under the knife following his victory at UFC on FUEL TV 9 and a timeframe for his return is unknown, it's too difficult to pin down exactly who "The Dream Catcher" should face next because of the fact the division could be in an entirely different state by the time he returns to action.

There are plenty of key light heavyweight bouts with top contenders on the horizon in the summer and if Mousasi can make a winter return to the Octagon it would make sense for him to fight anyone in the top-10.

For a lengthy explanation on the entire situation and more details on the extent of Mousasi's injury, read "Who is next for Gegard Mousasi?"

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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