Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) headed to South Australia for the first time this past Saturday night (May 9, 2015) for a night full of finishes at UFC Fight Night 65: "Miocic vs Hunt," which took place live on Fight Pass inside the Adelaide Entertainment Center.
The main event was agonizing to witness, as Stipe Miocic thoroughly outclassed Mark Hunt in enemy territory en route to a (technical) knockout victory late in the fifth round (highlights here). The fight left the "Super Samoan's" face badly mangled, and cemented Miocic as a legitimate title contender in the heavyweight division.
The co-main event provided a lightning quick knockout courtesy of New Zealander Robert Whittaker. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) "The Smashes" winner put the hammer down on No. 14-ranked middleweight Brad Tavares, finishing the Hawaiian just 44 seconds into the fight.
With that quick recap of last night's marquee bouts, it's now time to play matchmaker with our "Next Matches To Make."
Winner: James Vick
Who He Should Fight Next: Paul Felder
Whether or not the eye poke late in the first round aided James Vick to victory in Australia is null and void. What will ultimately be remembered is "The Texecutioner's" vice-like grip on his guillotine he used to choke out the formerly undefeated Jake Matthews late in the first round.
Vick has looked impressive during his Octagon stint, and has proved a ton of doubters wrong by improving to 8-0 in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Defeating the highly touted "Celtic Kid" should earn Vick a shot at a ranked contender next, but the division is so stacked I would be fine seeing him matched up against anyone in the top 20.
Personally, I would love to see the lanky American take on fellow rising prospect Paul Felder.
Winner: Sean O'Connell
Who He Should Fight Next: Fabio Maldonado
He may not be the best MMA fighter you will ever see, but Sean O'Connell has enough power in his hands to put away anyone in the light heavyweight division.
Even with two straight victories via knockout, O'Connell is a long ways away from contending against the cream of the crop in UFC's 205-pound division. With that being said, I would continue to schedule "The Real OC" against opponents willing to exchange.
UFC matchmakers are not fond of scheduling a fighter coming off a loss against someone on a winning streak, but I believe a Fabio Maldonado vs Sean O'Connell slobberknocker is too good to pass up.
Make it happen Joe Silva!
Winner: Robert Whittaker
Who He Should Fight Next: Thales Leites
Man, did Robert Whittaker make a statement at UFC Fight Night 65.
Following his second straight knockout victory, the TUF champ will likely soar up the 185 pound division ladder to take on a top contender his next time out.
With newfound power after not cutting down the additional 15 pounds to make the welterweight limit, Whittaker has found his sweet spot in the middleweight division.
The middleweight rankings are a bit out of sorts with a plethora of fighters in the top-15 coming off a loss. One of the few men who is on a winning streak is No. 10-ranked Thales Leites, and I think that would be an excellent fight for the New Zealander's next Octagon appearance.
Winner: Stipe Miocic
Who He Should Fight Next: Cain Velasquez or Fabricio Werdum
Look, I know Junior Dos Santos defeated Stipe Miocic only six months ago, but anyone who watched that fight knows Miocic's stock only raised following his decision loss.
There are very few contenders in the heavyweight division, and even less who have the cardio and athleticism Miocic does at nearly 250 pounds.
With Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum set to unify the titles at UFC 188, I would like to see Miocic fight the winner.
In reality though, I suspect that if "Vai Cavalo" becomes the undisputed champ, Dos Santos will get the crack at the man he knocked out in his Octagon debut way back in 2008.
If Velasquez retains his title, I really have no interest in seeing Dos Santos get mauled by the champ again. Why not feed the heavyweight kingpin fresh meat in Miocic?
We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
For complete results from UFC Fight Night 65: "Miocic vs. Hunt," including play-by-play updates, click here.