UFC Fight Night 35: "Rockhold vs. Philippou," which took place last night (Weds., Jan. 15, 2014) at Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia, proved to be an action-packed night of free fights on FOX Sports 1 (FS1).
The entertaining main card featured a main event between Luke Rockhold and Costas Philippou, and it was short-lived, to say the least.
Rockhold stopped Philippou with a liver kick two-and-a-half minutes into the first round, marking his first victory inside the Octagon (watch highlights here). With a rematch against Vitor Belfort and a potential duel with Michael Bisping on his mind, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion looked outstanding, earned a Knockout of The Night bonus, as well.
In the co-main event, Brad Tavares upset Lorenz Larkin and won the fight by unanimous decision. Tavares controlled most of the bout on the feet, and won the grappling exchanges, as well. It was the perfect opportunity for Larkin to gain some steam with a win; however, Tavares stole that right out of his pocket and declared himself as a top middleweight prospect.
Other main card winners include T.J. Dillashaw, who outclassed Mike Easton, alongside Yoel Romero, who earned a come-from-behind victory over Derek Brunson. John Moraga beat Dustin Ortiz by split decision, in what was a controversial call, and Cole Miller was also victorious, submitting Sam Sicilia in the opening contest of the main card.
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.
Here are our next matches to make, from top-to-bottom:
Winner: Luke Rockhold
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 36
Why They Should Fight: Even though Rockhold had a bone to pick with Michael Bisping, it seems like Tim Kennedy will get that fight.
After an impressive performance last night, Rockhold is up there when it comes to the top middleweights in the UFC, and to get closer to the gold, he needs to win over tough opposition.
The perfect fight for Rockhold would be against either Lyoto Machida or Gegard Mousasi, who will trade blows next month at UFC Fight Night 36 in Brazil. The supposed match up would not be a number one contender's scrap, although it would decide who is closer to a title shot and besides the championship implications moving forward, Rockhold against either of these fighters would be a hell of a scrap. The thought of him exchanging flashy kicks with Machida is salivating, and it seems like he and Mousasi should have been matched up with each other long ago.
A fight with either would be competitive and entertaining.
Winner: Brad Tavares
Who He Should Fight Next: Thales Leites
Why They Should Fight: Stylistically, this would be quite fascinating.
Tavares has done enough to earn himself a durable opponent, and even if Thales Leites is not ranked high enough on any medium of rankings, his actions speak for themselves.
Leites would probably possess the advantage on the mat, but Tavares' grappling was very impressive against Lorenz Larkin, and his striking has improved immensely, as well.
It may seem like an odd pairing, however it is intriguing, to say the least.
Winner: T.J. Dillashaw
Who He Should Fight Next: Michael McDonald
Why They Should Fight: Dillashaw looked like a top-three bantamweight after schooling Mike Easton last night, and he deserves the best possible fights in the 135-pound division. One or two more wins, and Dillashaw sees himself edging closer to a title bout.
Even though he is coming off a loss, Michael McDonald is also a top bantamweight prospect, having only lost in the UFC to Renan Barao in a title fight and Urijah Faber, Dillashaw's training partner.
This meeting would be a scrap between two budding prospects, and they have already established their worth in the UFC. Plus, McDonald may want to extract revenge on Team Alpha Male after his loss to Faber and this would be the perfect way to do so.
Winner: Yoel Romero
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Cezar Ferreira vs. CB Dolloway at UFC Fight Night 38
Why They Should Fight: At the UFC Fight Night 35 post-fight press conference, Dana White said that Romero still needs experience, despite his impressive outings in the Octagon thus far.
We all know that CB Dolloway has his fair share of experience, and Cezar Ferreira is learning quickly enough, being The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Brazil season 1 middleweight winner. Each of these three athletes are looking to break into the top 10 and feel that they deserve the recognition.
With either Ferreira or Dolloway coming out the winner in their meeting in Brazil, it would be the toughest test of Romero's career in the UFC.
Winner: John Moraga
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo at UFC 170
Why They Should Fight: Say what you will about Moraga's win over Dustin Ortiz and if it was merited or not, but Moraga was declared the winner and there is no changing that. Moraga was a title challenger just a few months ago, and if he ever wants to climb his way back to a title fight, he needs to win over tough opponents.
There will be a fight going down between Makovsky and Sampo at UFC 170 in Las Vegas at the end of February, and either combatant would be a good match-up for Moraga. Both have proven they can beat tough opposition in the UFC, and a fight with either competitor would be an entertaining flyweight scrap.
Winner: Cole Miller
Who He Should Fight Next: Conor McGregor
Why They Should Fight: The UFC have been accused in the past of padding the records of top prospects, and although that could be cheeky to declare, sometimes they hesitate to give them the fights that show what they are truly made of (with marketing issues and experience building aside).
Cole Miller petitioned for this fight after his UFC Fight Night 30 win in England, and despite his beef with Donald Cerrone, a meeting with Conor McGregor seems more favorable at the moment.
McGregor is a top prospect, and if he is going to be marketed as the next big thing, why not have him fight an experienced veteran like Miller? This is a true grudge match, and after tearing apart Sam Sicilia, Miller is ready for a step up as well.
There you have it. Agree or disagree?
For UFC Fight Night 35: "Rockhold vs. Philippou" recaps, videos and fight coverage, check out our live story stream here.