Matches to Make: Who should be next for UFC 164's main card winners?

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

In the wake of UFC 164, we fantasize about our chances of being an official matchmaker, attempting to decide who the event’s main card winners should fight next. Check it out below!

UFC 164: "Henderson vs. Pettis 2" is in the books and the return trip to Milwaukee, Wisc., for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) proved to be a successful one in terms of mixed martial arts (MMA) action brought forth from its competitors.

Check out our full UFC 164: "Henderson vs. Pettis 2" results and live play-by-play coverage right here.

With that being said, pay-per-view (PPV) main card competitors Anthony Pettis, Josh Barnett, Chad Mendes, Ben Rothwell and Dustin Poirier all picked up victories at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday night (Aug. 31, 2013), which means it's time to anticipated their next moves in their respective weight classes.

Indeed, after every fight card, MMA fans are already thinking about what the future holds for the stars of the show. With another evening of action-packed fights, let's peer into our crystal ball and predict possible match-making scenarios.

Here we go, from bottom to top:

Winner: Ben Rothwell
Who He Should Fight Next:
Stipe Miocic
Why They Should Fight:
Being in Ben Rothwell's shoes, it is understandable why he called out Travis Browne since "Hapa" made waves by knocking out Alistair Overeem; however, in the case of "Big Ben," he needs to tone it down a notch.

The former International Fight League (IFL) and Miletech Fighting Systems-trained standout got a big win over Brandon Vera, but let us realistically break down his position: Rothwell may have scored a technical knockout against "The Truth," but he returned to the Heavyweight division after a dreadful five-year stint at Light Heavyweight.

Nevertheless, Rothwell has not won two-straight fights since 2008 out of a possible eight opportunities, losing fairly big fights to stronger opposition at the time (Andrei Arlovski, Cain Velasquez, Mark Hunt and most recently, Gabriel Gonzaga).

So maybe Browne is slightly above him in pecking order right now.

A decent fight for Rothwell to get back into the hunt would be against Miocic, who stunned Roy Nelson earlier this summer at UFC 161. Miocic did well against "Big Country," who had his hands low, his stance wide and constantly looked for the overhead right, but could not find it. Rothwell has a similar fight style, but it is not exactly the same, either.

Rothwell has looked slimmer over the past few years and clearly more athletic, bouncing around and having improved cardio. It's a good fight for both men early on if they want to make a serious run at the title.

Winner: Chad Mendes
Who He Should Fight Next: Dustin Poirier
Why They Should Fight: Wondering why Poirier was skipped on this list? Well, he was not. We just needed to wait for Mendes' spot to talk about him.

"The Diamond" outlasted "New Breed" Erik Koch after a grueling three-round affair that saw Poirier come out on top. He rocked Koch badly in the first (twice, actually), and that was the turning point of this fight. Poirier was almost submitted early in the first round via triangle and even at the end by a guillotine had Koch not been exhausted and taken the amount of damage he did.

Poirier now finds himself even (2-2) in his last four appearances. And although he wants that Cub Swanson rematch bad, it makes more sense for him to fight Mendes next.

"Money" looked incredible against Clay Guida, being the first man to stop him via strikes and has shown vast improvements from the man Jose Aldo knocked out at UFC 142. Since that loss, Mendes has rejuvenated to 4-0 with four stoppages via strikes, indicating that a second title shot looms for Mendes; however, Poirier's domination of a highly-touted Koch has him right back into the hunt. And if he wants to get his name out there in title contention just like he did when he entered the UFC with four-straight victories, a win over Mendes would be immense on his resume.

If Mendes does get the next crack at Aldo, some would complain and others would not. Seeing that he already faced the champion once, a win over Poirier would make it inevitable that a rematch with Aldo would be on the cards in no time.

Dare we say it -- Frankie Edgar would also be a good option for both these men yet that would also be the perfect opponent for Swanson.

We are killing two birds with one stone for all four of these men at MMAmania.com.

Winner: Josh Barnett
Who He Should Fight Next:
Travis Browne
Why They Should Fight:
As we pointed out little more than two weeks ago in our UFC Fight Night 26 installment of this feature, Browne should have faced the winner of Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett. Browne may need another win over a quality opponent before his title shot comes to fruition and despite the controversial way Josh Barnett was handed the victory over Frank Mir, he still stopped the most decorated Heavyweight in UFC history.

This fight could not be easier to make, or suggest, rather. Browne is a young and hungry Heavyweight who feels like he could beat anyone in the division and standing across from him would be the old-school, been here-done that workhorse veteran who has proven once again he belongs at the highest level of competition and is not far away from knocking on the champion's door with another huge victory.

If styles make fights, it should not boil down to the skills both men possess but more so the position both heavyweights are in their respective careers on the present day. If both these mammoths are a win away from being considering a potential opponent for either Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos right now, let them truly fight for all the marbles to leave no doubt in anyone's mind who the next man in line is -- without regard to Fabricio Werdum, who will probably get the winner of UFC 166's Heavyweight championship main event and Daniel Cormier, who is still poised to drop to 205 pounds.

Winner: Anthony Pettis
Who He Should Fight Next: T.J. Grant
Why They Should Fight: First off, Grant has never headlined a major card and with the potential criticism this choice may bring, he is not the most popular or talked about fighter in the division, either.

He was supposed to be the one that was going to challenge Henderson last night. And when an injury forced him out of the bout, the fandom called conspiracy since this event was taking place in Pettis' hometown of Milwaukee and selling a PPV with the last man to beat "Smooth" on it would fare much better than Grant, being virtually unknown to the casual fan. If someone truly believes Grant would have taken a payoff to step down from witnessing his dream of fighting for a title slip away, that is a pretty difficult concept to understand (unless he was offered an immediate shot at the winner, but this is not dinner time with Nostradamus, either).

Whether or not Grant is a believable contender with a knockout win over Gray Maynard as the reason for cementing his title shot in the first place, there was a reason he was pitted against Henderson and that was the fight we were supposed to see.

Pettis called for unfinished business with Jose Aldo after his fight although truth be told, he has unfinished business with Grant. In all fairness to Grant, he should get the next crack since he missed out and if he could come back quick enough, that fight is already made.

Would Aldo vs. Pettis be as succulent as we think it would be, taking a page out of pro wrestling's title versus title implications? Of course it would, but maybe the sympathetic side weighs in for Ricardo Lamas who cannot seem to get noticed pending a fight announcement and being skipped on several occasions for his well-deserved Featherweight title shot.

The reluctance to acknowledge him courtesy of the brass has us wondering if they were waiting for this fight's main event to unfold and include Aldo in Pettis' plans.

Be that as it may, that could be a different story altogether and we must not look too ahead of ourselves. Pettis is the new champion. Away with rematches and "super" fights will wait yet again; he just won the title. It is time for a fresh face and even more so, time to determine his first challenge in the Lightweight division.

Look no further that Grant ... it's the right fight to make next.

For our complete coverage of UFC 164: "Henderson vs. Pettis 2" click here.

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