After witnessing two fights cards on the same day, including a couple of surprising results, the matchmaking options definitely aren't easy.
UFC Fight Night 48: "Bisping vs. Le" took place at Cotai Arena in Macau, China, and in the "Fight Pass" main event, Michael Bisping needed four rounds to stop Cung Le by technical knockout (TKO), bloodying his foe quite badly in the process (highlights here).
The victory allowed "The Count" to keep his middleweight career alive, and there's no doubting his drawing ability. A bout against Luke Rockhold could be enticing; however, with Lyoto Machida on the horizon for the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, it's unclear if a fight alongside Bisping would make sense at this point ... regardless of the constant rumblings from both.
Also on the online card, Tyron Woodley knocked out Dong Hyun Kim in 61 seconds, proving he just had a minor slip up against Rory MacDonald at UFC 174.
Several hours later, UFC Fight Night 49: "Henderson vs. dos Anjos" took place from inside BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the fans definitely didn't expect an outcome like that in the main event.
The Brazilian knocked out the former UFC lightweight champion with a crushing left hook, sending referee John McCarthy storming in to save "Bendo" from any more punches (highlights here). Call it a bad stoppage at your own discretion, yet "Smooth" certainly went limp and McCarthy wouldn't have done his job if he let a fighter continue after a flash knockout.
Jordan Mein also scored a vicious knockout victory in the co-main event, as he faked a takedown to annihilate Mike Pyle with a big combination. Despite the troubles that surrounded his father prior to his bout, "Young Gun" was simply not bothered by anything taking place outside the cage (highlights here).
That said, let's try and match up these four combatants with worthy opponents for their next bouts:
Winner: Tyron Woodley
Who He Should Fight Next: Matt Brown
If you look potential contenders for "The Chosen One's" next date inside the cage, the pickings are a bit slim.
He trains with Hector Lombard at American Top Team (ATT), so that rules out an explosive bout against him. Tarec Saffiedine is going to lock horns against "Ares," and Woodley already beat Carlos Condit.
"T-Wood" certainly needs someone gunning for the title, so it makes sense to match him up against Matt Brown. Yes, "The Immortal" lost to Robbie Lawler in his last outing, and although we were robbed of a potential slugfest involving Brown vs. Condit, the pairing makes sense since the Ohioan sits right outside the title picture, with the Missouri native looking to storm in.
Plus, who wouldn't want to see that war of attrition? Anyone?
Winner: Michael Bisping
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Ronaldo Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 50
Obviously, neither of those dudes are Rockhold.
But in all fairness, Rockhold only lost to Vitor Belfort in his entire ZUFFA tenure, who was taking TRT up the wazoo. Had it not been for that fight, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion could have found himself in a title fight by now.
With Rockhold having a bit more upside than the Englishman, who could have been one loss away from a career in the dust, it would be more sensible to match up "The Count" against the winner of Ronald Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi in a few weeks time.
A bout against Mousasi would be extremely intriguing, and the same goes for "Jacare," but there's no question the Brazilian grappling champion would have his way when the battle transitions onto the mat.
It's not like Bisping is on this impressive winning streak, either.
Winner: Jordan Mein
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Gunnar Nelson vs. Rick Story at UFC Fight Night 53
This is where it gets interesting for Mein.
He should be able to crack the promotion's official ranking system with his win this past weekend, and you could toss him in the cage against numerous welterweight competitors.
What's important is that "Young Gun" faces stiff opposition who could keep him in the headlining fights, even if they take place on "Fight Pass" or in Brazil on Wednesday nights.
That said, Gunnar Nelson will be facing Rick Story in the main event of UFC Fight Night 53, and depending on how good the victor looks, he could challenge Mein at a later date. Nelson is a hot commodity, and despite "Horror" being a little inconsistent at times, a win over a lauded prospect should get him a big fight.
It's just an example of who the Canadian could anticipate, with Hector Lombard, Kelvin Gastelum, and Demian Maia all needing fights in the very near future, as well.
Winner: Rafael dos Anjos
Who He Should Fight Next: Bobby Green
Ok, let's dissect this 155-pound division.
Khabib Nurmagomedov already beat Dos Anjos. The Brazilian defeated Donald Cerrone, who faces Eddie Alvarez at UFC 178. A bout against Alvarez would be saucy for RDA, but we can't predict the outcome of that pivotal co-main event just yet.
Josh Thomson is coming off a loss, even though he's a solid test for anyone, and with Gilbert Melendez booked to fight Anthony Pettis in December, Dos Anjos definitely needs someone bigger than Ross Pearson, or the winners of Myles Jury vs. Takenori Gomi and Michael Chiesa vs. Joe Lauzon.
In comes Bobby Green, who was scheduled to duke it out against "Cowboy," before the former Bellator lightweight titleholder entered the fold.
Say what you will about "King's" win over Thomson at UFC on FOX 12 last month, but the slugger's record speaks for itself. He hasn't lost a match since 2011, riding an eight-fight winning streak.
Maybe Dos Anjos is a bit more deserving of an opponent in the top three, but unless Alvarez beats Cerrone, that leaves us with a potential bangfest involving RDA against Green. Also, if Alvarez beats Cerrone decisively, he's probably getting a title shot.
The division is a bit messy, yet it's quite possibly the most exciting one in all of mixed martial arts (MMA) at this very moment.
That just about does it.