Time to play matchmaker, folks.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale took place last night (April 16, 2014) at Colisee de Quebec in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, and besides these TUF Finale cards running longer than The Grammy Awards as of late, we still got some noteworthy scraps to talk about.
Tim Kennedy pulled off the upset against Michael Bisping in the main event, taking home the five-round decision victory, which wasn't too exciting to watch. The American inserts himself into the middleweight mix after beating his foe, capping off a three-fight undefeated streak inside the Octagon (watch the highlights here).
Patrick Cote secured the clean sweep for Team Canada by beating Kyle Noke in the co-main event coaching battle, since his four Canadian pupils went on to win the welterweight and middleweight finals. He also opted to use a grappling-based game plan for the win.
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: Dustin Poirier
Who He Should Fight Next: Ricardo Lamas
Why They Should Fight: Technically, Cub Swanson against Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 44 could have title implications written all over it, like Poirier suggested in the post-fight presser.
But, at the same time, he could be wrong.
Chad Mendes is the frontrunner to get the next shot at Jose Aldo, since there were rumors their second meeting was going to headline UFC 175.
Still, "The Diamond" just fought the surging Swanson, and for someone who's on a three-fight winning streak, another victory could edge him closer to featherweight gold anyway.
In comes Ricardo Lamas, who just fought for the title at UFC 169. Sure, he's coming off a loss, yet if Poirier could get his hand raised against the former title challenger, there's no reason as to why he shouldn't be considered a legitimate featherweight threat.
There's Hatsu Hioki, who's also an interesting option, but let's make the Louisiana-born fighter feel like's he's almost there...no?
Winner: Chad Laprise
Who He Should Fight Next: Ildemar Alcantara
Why They Should Fight: It's tough to match up TUF winners (no pun intended) after their fights, because you don't want to set them up against someone who's about to get cut, but on the contrary, you can't pit them against someone who's too experienced and make them susceptible to a mauling.
Laprise is good on the feet and pretty damn impressive on the mat, too.
Ildemar Alcantara recently fought at UFC Fight Night 36, earning a split decision against Albert Tumenov, and it wasn't easy. He took some brutal shots in the first round and was gassed toward the end, with his hands full in the reversal game when it came to takedowns.
In all honesty, it's a good test for both and you can bet your ass this fight should be taking place on a UFC Fight Night: Brazil "prelims" card.
Winner: Elias Theodorou
Who He Should Fight Next: Caio Magalhaes vs. Luke Zachrich at UFC on FOX 11
Why They Should Fight: The same applies for the fellow Canadian TUF winner, but I like his chances against more of a stiffer test.
Caio Magalhaes is on a two-fight winning streak and although it would have been a little better to see Magalhaes fight Josh Samman this upcoming weekend, newcomer Luke Zachrich has three wins in his last three fights and I don't doubt Theodorou wouldn't be ready for either of them.
The days of giving TUF winners favorable match ups are over -- since a number of them don't even last for a couple of fights afterward.
Winner: Patrick Cote
Who He Should Fight Next: Ryan LaFlare
Why They Should Fight: I suggested this match up last weekend, and yes, there are other intriguing duels possible for Cote at this present time, but I'm sticking to it.
LaFlare has proven he can hang in there against durable opponents, and like we saw against John Howard, he's got a good grappling pedigree.
You did see "The Predator" grapple his way to victory yesterday, but in all fairness, "The Predator" isn't great on the mat. Tom Lawlor schooled him at UFC 121 and before that, Alan Belcher gave him a piledriver that Jerry Lawler would be jealous of.
Let's see how LaFlare does against a striker, since he can surely have his way against the Canadian on the mat. At the same time, let's see how far Cote's ground work has really come, since he'll light up the New Yorker on the feet.
Winner: Tim Kennedy
Who He Should Fight Next: Ronaldo Souza
Why They Should Fight: It's a rematch nearly four years in the making...so, why not?
More importantly, Lyoto Machida is busy against Chris Weidman at UFC 175, Vitor Belfort's future is as good as Nancy Grace's right now, and despite the winner of either Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch at UFC 172 or Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 41 also being a viable option, Souza is left hanging in the balance.
The "Ranger Up" rep is undefeated inside the Octagon, and winning against his European counterpart last night means he's on a three-fight winning streak.
"Jacare" was patiently waiting for the winner of the main event after he healed from the corn puffs that were lodged in his elbow, so a second fight against Kennedy makes sense to see which one of these middleweights is ready to contend for the title.
Plus, it's revenge for Kennedy, after losing to Souza in 2010 in a fight that cost him Strikeforce middleweight gold.
What say you?
For complete TUF: "Nations" Finale coverage, including video highlights, recaps and full results, click here.