What a weekend to play matchmaker.
UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw" took place last night (Sat., May 24, 2014) from inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in the main event, T.J. Dillashaw did the impossible.
"The Viper" upset heavy favorite Renan Barao to take home the bantamweight championship, bringing the gold back to Team Alpha Male and sending Duane Ludwig out with a bang in his swan song.
It was a shocking result to say the least, since Dillashaw got the better of the Brazilian for the entire fight, rocking him with punches in bunches until securing the finish in the fifth round (watch highlights here).
In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier proved why he's a massive threat at light heavyweight by submitting mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Dan Henderson by rear-naked choke in the third round (watch highlights here).
"DC" completely annihilated "Hendo" on the mat, showing observers his wrestling skills could be the most dangerous in the entire division.
It was somewhat tragic to see Henderson lose in such fashion, ruling out retirement and instead, opting for a possible move back to middleweight.
Also on the main card, Robbie Lawler stopped Jake Ellenberger quite handily, scoring a third-round TKO victory, while Takeya Mizugaki beat Francisco Rivera by unanimous decision. James Krause was awarded the victory over Jamie Varner, after what appeared to be a broken ankle cut "C-4's" night short.
It's time to match them up, and without further ado, here we go:
Winner: James Krause
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Gray Maynard vs. Fabricio Camoes at UFC 176
Why They Should Fight Next: Discrediting Krause's victory is like canceling out a win for other fighters who were victorious because of their opponent's injuries, yet we still need to see more of him before he's anywhere close to being a top 10 lightweight.
There's a bevy of compelling lightweight fights on the horizon, including Abel Trujillo vs. Myles Jury in June, Jorge Masvidal vs. Daron Cruickshank in July, and Gray Maynard vs. Fabricio Camoes in August.
The last option was just announced a week ago, and the winner of that fight would be a good test to see if "The James Krause" can continue his UFC finishing streak, despite being 2-1 in the promotion, against an opponent who isn't exactly a top 10 standout, either.
Winner: Takeya Mizugaki
Who He Should Fight Next: Raphael Assuncao
Why They Should Fight: The Brazilian may be pissed if they offer him this fight, since he was supposed to be the one challenging Barao last night for the bantamweight championship.
Not only are there other plans in store for the current champion, but also, Assuncao can test his might against another bantamweight who is on a winning streak similar to his.
Mizugaki has one less victory in his winning streak if you match him up against Assuncao (clocking in at five), and despite this fight being risky for the Brazilian, he doesn't really have a choice if the promotion decides to grant someone else a bantamweight title shot.
With that being said, a fight between both combatants would serve as a solid co-main event on free television, as we would find out who truly deserves to be in title contention.
Winner: Robbie Lawler
Who He Should Fight Next: Matt Brown
Why They Should Fight: Apart from the fact that it would be freaking awesome, it makes the most sense right now.
With Hector Lombard squaring off against Dong Hyun Kim in Macau, it's wouldn't be wrong to give Lawler a second title fight against Hendricks. On the flip side, it wouldn't be wrong to give Brown a title shot after his performance against Erick Silva a few weeks ago, either.
This fight would be a pleasure to watch, and if the winner of this proposed bout outshines the winner of Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley at UFC 174, the title shot is for the taking.
With limited options for both at welterweight, it's simply written in the stars.
Winner: Daniel Cormier
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Why They Should Fight: It's pretty much already confirmed, according to last night's post-fight press conference.
UFC President Dana White mentioned "DC" earned the title shot, and as of this moment, a date for Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson is projected for August in "Sin City," but not yet official.
Cormier did more than just earn his right to challenge for the 205-pound strap last night. He manhandled a living legend, proving a fight against either "Bones" or "The Mauler" would be a tall order for both of those combatants involved.
If the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product had it his way, there's no question he'd rather fight Jones after their long and bitter quarrel and it was, in fact, the first thing he mentioned in his post-fight interview.
Winner: T.J. Dillashaw
Who He Should Fight Next: Dominick Cruz
Why They Should Fight: You didn't forget about Cruz, did you?
Dillashaw has a few options on the table after winning the belt last night, including Assuncao or even a rematch against Barao.
However, "The Dominator" would be a solid test for the new champion, and if Cruz can come back healthy and ready to compete in the next couple of months, a fight between these two would be a thrilling bout.
Their styles match up well together, with both fighters known for their exceptional footwork and combinations. The grappling exchanges would be key, too, since Cruz's jiu-jitsu would be put to the test against "The Viper's" wrestling.
It all depends on Cruz and if he's ready to come back. If so, we've got a pretty good scrap on our hands.
That just about does it.
For extensive coverage of UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw," check out our live story stream featuring highlights, video recaps, and in-depth results right here.