Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pulled out all the stops for its weekend doubleheader, and fight fans were treated to a plethora of exciting fights over the last two evenings. After another intriguing, albeit very strange, UFC on FOX event featuring marquee names and consequential bouts, UFC fans have a lot to look forward to heading into 2015.
UFC on FOX 13 went down this past Saturday (Dec. 13, 2014) from inside the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The main card featured three heavyweight slobberknockers, and a lightweight bout that had major consequences in the division.
In the main event, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos returned to the Octagon, eking out a unanimous decision victory over the very game Stipe Miocic after a 25 minute battle (highlights here). Both men were battered and bloodied by the end of the fight, but they can both leave Phoenix with their heads held high after putting on a sensational show.
In the co-main event, No. 3 ranked lightweight Rafael Dos Anjos absolutely obliterated the former No. 1 contender Nate Diaz en route to an easy unanimous decision victory (highlights here). In his best career performance, Dos Anjos beat up Diaz in every scenario, never giving the fan-favorite an inch to breathe or succeed at any point in the fight.
With that quick recap of the night's marquee bouts, it is now time to play matchmaker with our "Next Matches To Make."
Winner: Matt Mitrione
Who Should He Fight Next: Alistair Overeem or Mark Hunt
Matt Mitrione has truly grown in front of our very eyes inside the Octagon.
The former NFL player turned mixed martial artist literally had no credentials when he made his way onto The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 10. Since the show ended, Mitrione has fought every single one of his professional MMA fights inside the Octagon.
With his knockout victory over perennial contender and UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga -- his eighth inside the Octagon--Mitrione showed once again that he is a dark horse candidate for a UFC title shot in the thin heavyweight division. With impressive footwork, tight and powerful boxing, and solid takedown defense, Mitrione is a tough out for anyone in UFC today.
With that being said, Mitrione deserves another crack at a big name or top contender and Mark Hunt or Alistair Overeem certainly fit that bill.
Winner: Alistair Overeem
Who Should He Fight Next: Matt Mitrione
I have said this before, and I will say it again: Picking heavyweight fights in UFC is nearly impossible considering how weak the division is.
Although Alistair Overeem headed into UFC on FOX 13 with a 1-3 record in his last four, "The Reem" staved off being cut from UFC with a brilliant TKO victory over the returning Stefan Struve.
While many are calling for Overeem to finally take on Junior Dos Santos, I believe UFC should give Overeem a relatively easier fight his next time out in Matt Mitrione. Now that is not to say Mitrione is not an exceptional or dangerous fighter, but rather Overeem has a better chance to prove he is worthy of a crack at the No. 2 heavyweight in the world.
With Overeem getting knocked out viciously three times inside the Octagon, it is imperative for UFC to give "The Reem" favorable matchups en route to a possible title shot in 2015.
Unfortunately for Overeem, everyone in the heavyweight division punches hard, and Matt Mitrione could absolutely knock him out. Will "Meathead" be able to take out "The Reem" in 2015? Only time will tell.
Winner: Rafael Dos Anjos
Who Should He Fight Next: Anthony Pettis
With Khabib Nurmagomedov injured, and Anthony Pettis raring to get back inside the Octagon, Rafael Dos Anjos has simply gotten hot at the perfect time.
Since losing to Nurmagomedov this past April, Dos Anjos has reeled off three straight impressive victories. After knocking out Jason High and then finishing former UFC champion Benson Henderson, "RDA" absolutely demolished Nate Diaz in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 13.
"RDA" has been the consummate professional during his UFC career, never missing weight in 17 bouts, and drastically improving over the last several years. While he may not be the best pay-per-view (PPV) sell, Dos Anjos has certainly earned his crack at "Showtime" and UFC gold.
Winner: Junior Dos Santos
Who Should He Fight Next: Travis Browne
Junior Dos Santos did not look like the human wrecking machine fans have come accustomed to seeing in the past, but the former heavyweight champion got the job done by defeating Stipe Miocic in a wildly entertaining five round battle this past weekend.
UFC has the option to take it slow with Dos Santos, and potentially match him up with perhaps Andrei Arlovski, or even Josh Barnett in early 2015.
Considering "JDS" is always at the top of the heavyweight mountain, I expect UFC to give him No. 3 ranked Travis Browne in a No. 1 contender's bout in 2015. This heavyweight collision would not only pit two of the best strikers in the division against one another, it could serve as a main event for a FOX card or co-main event the title fight between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum.
Either way, Dos Santos is not far away from another title shot inside the Octagon whether you like it or not.
That's a wrap!
For more UFC on FOX 13 results, post-fight news, and storylines, click here.