For an event absolutely crippled by injuries in the weeks leading up, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brass have to be absolutely delighted by the outcome of the UFC 184 pay-per-view (PPV) event last Saturday night (Feb. 28, 2015) live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Making history by featuring the women's bantamweight division in both the main and co-main event of the evening, combat sports fans were treated to radically different outcomes in the marquee fights on the PPV card.
In the main event, UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey continued her impeccable mixed martial arts (MMA) run, defeating the formerly undefeated Cat Zingano via armbar just 14 seconds into the fight. In her last two fights combined, "Rowdy" has defeated both opponents in a total of 30 seconds.
The co-main event featured the highly anticipated UFC debut of former boxing world champ Holly Holm, and while she may not have looked like a world-beater on Saturday night, picking up the split decision victory over Raquel Pennington was an important first step in her UFC career (highlights here).
With that quick recap of the night's marquee bouts, its now time to play matchmaker with our "Next Matches To Make."
Winner: Tony Ferguson
Who Should He Fight Next: Winner of Al Iaquinta vs Jorge Masvidal
It is either a testament to how deep the lightweight division is or a crying shame that Tony Ferguson is not ranked.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 13 winner won his fifth straight fight at UFC 184, easily dispatching of the very durable lightweight gatekeeper Gleison Tibau via submission in under three minutes of work. The victory was Ferguson's fourth finish in his last five fights, and you can bet "El Cucuy's" will be ranked come Monday.
With No. 7-10 either injured or coming off a loss in the lightweight division, the options are limited unless the TUF veteran wants to sit on the sidelines for a bit. Considering his penchant for punching others in the face, I wouldn't expect Ferguson to take any sort of sabbatical.
While I'd love to see Ferguson take on a top 10 opponent, I think the best available match up for "El Cucuy" is taking on the winner of Al Iaquinta vs Jorge Masvidal at UFC Fight Night 63.
Winner: Alan Jouban
Who Should He Fight Next: Stephen Thompson
Can you imagine a fight between "Brahma" and "Wonderboy?" My goodness!
Alan Jouban deserves to be undefeated inside the Octagon thus far, but a highly questionable decision loss to Warlley Alves has cost him the opportunity to own a three-fight winning streak.
Regardless, the male model is proving he is a lot more than just a pretty face in UFC today, providing two vicious knockouts already in his young Octagon career. At UFC 184, Jouban put a beating on Richard Walsh, finishing the Australian with a violent standing elbow that had the Los Angeles crowd going berserk in excitement.
While Thompson would be a huge step up in competition, I believe Jouban has earned a chance to prove himself against a UFC mainstay, and you simply can not deny the stand-up battle between the two men would be one for the highlight reels.
Winner: Jake Ellenberger
Who Should He Fight Next: Rick Story
With Jake Ellenberger finally getting back in the win column with his submission victory over Josh Koscheck at UFC 184 following three straight losses, I don't believe UFC matchmakers should rush "The Juggernaut" back into fighting top-flight condition.
While I was impressed by Ellenberger at UFC 184, he still seems a bit gunshy to me, but he is seemingly getting back into his rhythm. It would be a shame to see the Nebraska native thrown right back to the wolves right as he is getting his footing back under him.
Even with Ellenberger ranked No. 11 in the welterweight division, I don't suspect he will be matched up with anyone ranked higher, so a bout against the streaking No. 12 ranked welterweight Rick Story would certainly be interesting to watch and make sense in the grand scheme of the division as well.
Winner: Holly Holm
Who Should He Fight Next: Marion Reneau
Let's drop the whole Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey thing okay?
Holm admitted the pressure and hype her UFC debut brought upon her definitely impacted her performance, but at the end of the day, the former world champion boxer picked up an important win over Raquel Pennington via split decision.
With Dana White admitting "The Preacher's Daughter" will need a few more fights before she is in title contention, I would love to see Holm's second appearance come against the uber impressive mother Marion Reneau.
Winner: Ronda Rousey
Who Should He Fight Next: Bethe Correia or Jessica Eye
Look, none of the potential contenders in the UFC's women's bantamweight division seemingly stand a chance against Ronda Rousey, but if UFC wants a fight they can sell with at least some sort of intrigue, they must book Rousey vs Correia.
"Rowdy" did her part by calling Correia out in her post-fight interview, and the Brazilian has done hers by winning three straight UFC fights, including two victories over Rousey's close friends in Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler.
Even though Correia has yet to fight a top 10 opponent, the options are limited unless UFC brass deems No. 6 ranked Jessica Eye a worthy opponent. If the Cleveland native wants a shot at Rousey's belt, she better start speaking up and making her case.
For complete results from UFC 184: "Rousey vs. Zingano" click here.