Gentlemen, step up to the plate.
UFC Fight Night 39: "Nogueira vs. Nelson" took place this past Friday (April 11, 2014) at Du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, treating fans in the Middle East to several hours of entertaining mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
The main event saw a legend fall, as Roy Nelson viciously knocked out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with a walk-off knockout for the ages (watch highlights here). Depressing as it was to witness, "Big Country" inserted himself back into the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, while the former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight champion's career may have come to a bitter end.
In the co-main event, Clay Guida got some momentum back on his side, earning the decision victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri. "The Carpenter" dropped the Japanese veteran in the first round and followed it up with a grappling-based gameplan to take home the much-needed win.
Also on the main card, Ryan LaFlare got the nod from the judges against John Howard in a tough battle and Ramsey Nijem kicked off the action by torching Beneil Dariush in the first round via punches.
Indeed, after every event, fight fans are already thinking about what the future holds for the stars of the show. With another night of notable scraps, let us peer into our crystal ball and predict possible matchmaking scenarios.
Here are our next matches to make:
Winner: Ramsey Nijem
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 173
Why They Should Fight: Nijem finished off a heavy favorite and looked impressive doing so, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 finalist is still improving, boasting a record of 9-4 and besides Tony Ferguson, who knocked him out in the tournament final, his stiffest test was against Myles Jury at UFC on FOX 7 a year ago -- suffering a knockout defeat again.
Fighting the winner of a bout pitting Michael Chiesa against Francisco Trinaldo could give us a slighter indication of how ready he is in order to step up to the next level. Chiesa, a fellow TUF contestant who actually won TUF 15, would bring forth a wild style in which the Californian would be forced to expect a war no matter where the fight takes place. Trinaldo is no slouch, either, heading into his fight against Chiesa after a hard-fought victory against Jesse Ronson at UFC Fight Night 35.
It may not be the top-10 opponent Nijem is looking for, however if he wants us to see his face for a while, like he said in his post-fight interview, you got to keep knocking them down.
Winner: Ryan LaFlare
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Patrick Cote vs. Kyle Noke at TUF: "Nations" Finale
Why They Should Fight: In a post-Jake Shields world, it's difficult to watch LaFlare grind out his opponents until they're smothered under his wrath, since his fighting method isn't doing him any favors in the entertainment department.
Although, since joining UFC last year, he's mustered up a four-fight winning streak (all by decision), becoming a welterweight prospect on the watch-list -- even if the wins aren't pretty.
We've seen LaFlare's chin tested, and although he can overcome a bad spot like the one against Howard this past weekend, a powerful striker has never hit him with a really good blow.
The winner of Patrick Cote against Kyle Noke would be the perfect step up in competition for the hungry New Yorker. "The Predator" has shown he can let his fists go, yet his ground game is a little troublesome. The same could be said for Noke, who's definitely decent on the ground, however against someone like LaFlare's caliber, things could play out differently.
Both TUF: "Nations" Finale coaches could make an interesting fight against the former New York state wrestling champion on the feet and it's the test LaFlare needs, too.
Winner: Clay Guida
Who He Should Fight Next: Chan Sung Jung
Why They Should Fight: I'll bite after Dan Hardy's suggestion as to which competitor Guida could face next, although the fight could play out differently than one might assume.
Matching these two sluggers against each other could mean both combatants would lunge forward, throwing caution to the wind and get the audience in attendance and at home riled up real nice.
On the contrary, "The Carpenter" outmuscled Tatsuya Kawajiri in Abu Dhabi, so it may be an indication as to how he's going to approach his future fights. Who even knows if Chan Sung Jung would come forward with reckless abandon, since he was more cautious against Jose Aldo at UFC 163 in his title loss?
He's also recovering from a nasty injury sustained in that fight, so booking restrictions could apply here.
Still, it has the potential to be a crazy scrap, between two notables in the world of MMA, known for usually throwing down mercilessly.
Thanks for the tip, "Outlaw."
Winner: Roy Nelson
Who He Should Fight Next: Alistair Overeem
Why They Should Fight: Before indulging into what could be a fantastic contest, let it be known that Mark Hunt could be an option for Nelson as well, but it just makes a little more sense to see "Big Country" take on Alistair Overeem.
"The Super Samoan" is coming off a fight for the ages against Antonio Silva, and keeping in mind all the wars and spectacles Mark Hunt has been involved in, perhaps a fight against Brendan Schaub makes a little more sense (after they engaged in a Twitter war earlier this week).
As for "The Demolition Man," both he and Nelson snapped two-fight losing streaks in their last fights, respectively, and if they want to continue their rise to the top of the heavyweight division, it only makes sense for them to square off against each other.
There are so many interesting variables that come into play, too.
The thought of them throwing punches at each other would look very different on each end, without knowing how the fight would play out until seeing it for yourself. You could say Nelson has the advantage on the ground, yet if Overeem stuffs a few takedowns, it could be "The Demolition Man" that has a few powerful takedowns up his sleeve for the Nevada resident.
The heavyweight division has always been small, but that's advantageous for us, since the majority of fights will have significant impact in the championship picture and since two-straight wins could be more than enough to warrant a title bout.
We're looking at a perfect example right here.
For more on UFC Fight Night 39: "Nogueira vs. Nelson," check out our story stream right here.