Another fight card, another matchmaking scenario.
UFC 169: "Barao vs. Faber 2" went down last night (Sat., Feb. 1, 2014) at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, and there's nothing like a pay-per-view (PPV) card, is there?
Well, most of the time.
Renan Barao may have his win over Urijah Faber stained after stopping him in the first round, since referee Herb Dean rushed in to halt the fight when Faber seemed to be defending himself properly. "The Baron" clocked Faber badly and followed up with punches on the ground, and Dean opted to protect the fighter rather than allowing "The California Kid" to go out on his shield (watch the highlights and judge for yourself right here).
In the co-main event, it was the same old situation with "Scarface," and we saw the picture-perfect Jose Aldo fight (check out the highlights of the co-main event here).
He dominated Ricardo Lamas over the course of four rounds, kicking those legs over and over again, and having a difficult fifth round to close out the fight. It's what we're used to by now and it seems like a move to lightweight is on deck.
But is it the right move?
Alistair Overeem didn't kill Frank Mir, and we're glad that Mir didn't suffer any knockout damage in their heavyweight tilt. Overeem may have played it safe, staying composed and not rushing in foolishly or underestimating his opponent this time around.
He was selective with his shots, and simply picked Mir apart for a unanimous decision win (see highlights of "The Reem's" domination here).
Not that UFC President Dana White was a big fan of his strategy.
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:
Winner: Abel Trujillo
Who He Should Fight Next: Jim Miller
Why They Should Fight: Goodness gracious, Abel Trujillo really turned off Jamie Varner's lights last night on the cusp of defeat (check out the highlights here).
He participated on the best fight on the card, and made a boatload of money for his performance. To think this is the same guy who got suplexed into a living death by Khabib Nurmagomedov...
Anyway, it's time for a step up in competition. Trujillo has now stopped Varner and Roger Bowling with punches, and his frame is pretty impressive for a lightweight.
Can Trujillo get the better of someone like Jim Miller on the feet? It's interesting too, because Miller would possess an advantage on the ground, yet can he get on the inside and lock up Trujillo to bring him down?
Exciting fighters are easy to match up, because they can face just about anyone.
Winner: Ali Bagautinov
Who He Should Fight Next: Demetrious Johnson
Why They Should Fight: They say one man's loss is another man's gain.
Well, that's fairly obvious, after Ali Bagautinov decisively beat John Lineker last night, and he may have also stolen Lineker's thunder in doing so.
After missing weight four times for his fights in UFC, and having a four-fight winning streak snapped, Lineker's chances of fighting for a title are long gone.
Out comes Bagautinov.
He may not be championship material just yet, but Johnson needs an opponent for his next fight. Bagautinov is the best viable option in the flyweight division, and his winning streak of 11 straight should grant him the chance.
With that being said, would he actually have a shot against "Mighty Mouse"?
Winner: Alistair Overeem
Who He Should Fight Next: Junior dos Santos
Why They Should Fight: Forget Brock Lesnar -- there's bad blood here, and it just makes sense.
You can't say Alistair Overeem had it easy with his UFC opponents so far, taking on the best the division has to offer. Maybe that's because there's such a far stretch from great heavyweights and sub-par ones at the moment, yet Overeem is good enough to compete against the best.
Even though he suffered a drubbing from Cain Velasquez in his last fight, Junior dos Santos is known for bouncing back in a big way, and forget that this pits someone with a loss against someone with a win. It would be a must-see fight; capable of headlining any card the promotion wants (this would actually get those FOX ratings up, to be honest).
If you want Overeem to face the Stipe Miocics and Roy Nelsons of the division, that's fine, too, but this contest would be a juggernaut of a fight.
Winner: Jose Aldo
Who He Should Fight Next: Chad Mendes
Why They Should Fight: Here's the deal: it's true that Jose Aldo has basically cleaned out the division, and a super fight against Anthony Pettis is as official as it could get without signing paperwork.
Much like we saw with the main event of UFC 169, even though a rematch was made possible because of a short-notice call up, previous opponents change their styles, get better, and rematches can be booked accordingly once the challenger's game improves.
Jose Aldo may be ready to relinquish his belt and move up to lightweight, yet a second fight against Chad Mendes still sounds good at the moment. "Money" has deserved it, having won five fights sine his knockout loss to "Scarface" at UFC 142 (those wins include four knockout victories, too).
If there's one fighter left for Aldo to seal a perfect run, it's a bout against Mendes -- even though he decimated him the first time around. If it worked for the main event, it should work for a champion who still can't shake off the doubters that he tires in the championship rounds.
Winner: Renan Barao
Who He Should Fight Next: Dominick Cruz
Why They Should Fight: It may not be the best idea to rush Dominick Cruz back from injury, but who else are you going to match Renan Barao against?
"The Dominator" has been out for a long time, and it may not be a great idea to rush him into a title shot against a phenomenon like Barao.
Maybe Cruz wins because of the lack of great challenges out there for the Brazilian at the moment, and after what "The Baron" did to Faber last night, you have to wonder how anyone else in the division would fare, or if they would even last two rounds.
There's no point to rush anything, so let Cruz heal and let the smoke settle first.
When that's all said and done, we can anticipate seeing the true UFC 169 main event finally materialize, and some would say the true bantamweight champion would emerge without having someone stripped of a title.
If you think Cruz's insertion into a bout against Barao is ridiculous at this present time, what other option exists?
That's a wrap for our "Next Matches To Make." Agree? Disagree? Agree to disagree?! Let us know what you think about these potential match ups.
For complete coverage of UFC 169: "Barao vs. Faber 2," including results, recaps and video highlights, check out our live story stream here.