Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicked off 2016 with a sensational pay-per-view event last Saturday night (Jan., 2, 2016) as UFC 195: "Lawler vs. Condit" delivered a thrilling evening of mixed martial arts (MMA) action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the main event, Robbie Lawler just barely retained his title via split decision over Carlos Condit in one of the best Welterweight title fights of all time (highlights here). It's not very often the "Fight of the Year" is decided just two days in, but Condit and Lawler may have very well sealed that title with their epic battle.
The co-main event featured Stipe Miocic taking on Andrei Arlovski in what many considered to be a No. 1 contender fight. It took a mere 54 seconds for Miocic to knockout the former UFC Heavyweight champ, and Dana White gave him a crack at UFC gold on the spot.
With that quick recap of last night's marquee bouts, it's now time to play matchmaker with our "Next Matches To Make."
Winner: Robbie Lawler
Who Should He Fight Next: Carlos Condit
Who wouldn't want a rematch after the legendary Welterweight title fight at UFC 195?
The fight was such a technical and violent masterpiece, showcasing MMA at its truest and best form.
Somehow the highly anticipated battle exceeded expectations, and it would be unbelievable to have them run it back at UFC 200.
If Condit indeed retires as he mentioned following the grueling affair, then the options for Lawler's next opponent are truly endless.
Tyron Woodley believes he is next in line, but sitting on the sidelines for a year following a split decision victory doesn't often earn you title shots.
If not Woodley, there is a strong case for Demian Maia following his complete and utter domination over Gunnar Nelson at UFC 194.
We also can't rule out the winner of the Johny Hendricks vs Stephen Thompson battle at UFC 196.
Ultimately, I expect to see Lawler vs Condit at UFC 200.
Winner: Stipe Miocic
Who Should He Fight Next: Fabricio Werdum or Cain Velasquez
Stipe Miocic is 5-1 in his last six bouts, has knocked out two straight Heavyweight legends, has a promised title shot from UFC president Dana White, and I still doubt he will get a crack at gold anytime soon.
Miocic was certainly impressive at UFC 195, easily dispatching of former Heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski in under a minute, but his post-fight demands for a title shot come at an inopportune time.
If Cain Velasquez regains his UFC title against Fabricio Werdum in their rematch next month, how can UFC brass bypass a potential trilogy fight?
Also, we can't just suddenly forget about the resurgent Alistair Overeem. The former Strikeforce Heavyweight champ undoubtedly carries a bigger name than Miocic, and just knocked out former champ Junior Dos Santos on FOX.
With one too many title shots being taken away after initial promise, it's hard to trust Miocic will be fighting for gold anytime soon.
Will the fireman sit on the sidelines and wait, or risk it all and take another No. 1 contender fight in the coming months?
Winner: Albert Tumenov
Who Should He Fight Next: Dong Hyun Kim
To see just how stacked the Welterweight division truly is, look no further than Albert Tumenov not being among the top 15 ranked 170-pounders on UFC's roster.
The 24-year old Russian has won five straight fights inside the Octagon since dropping a highly controversial split decision in his UFC debut, and is fresh off an impressive performance against a very tough Lorenz Larkin on PPV.
"Einstein" may not have earned another vicious knockout, but the fact that he took an inhumane amount of punishment to his leg and yet continued to push forward showed what kind of fighter he is.
Considering matchmakers gave Tumenov a favorable stand-up opponent for UFC 195, I'd like to see the Russian tested against a high-level grappler next.
I think No. 7 ranked Dong Hyun Kim fits the bill nicely.
Winner: Brian Ortega
Who Should He Fight Next: Mirsad Bektic
Brian Ortega has shown a lot of promise in his Octagon career thus far, and his jiu-jitsu game is quickly proving to be a major problem for his opponents.
For the second straight fight, Ortega found himself likely down two rounds heading into the final frame, and was able to pull off a comeback once again.
This time it was against Diego Brandao, as "T-City" lived up to his nickname, locking in a beautiful triangle just about two minutes into the final frame.
The victory improves Ortega's record to 2-0 in UFC with one No Contest due to a failed drug test.
At 24-years old, Ortega still has a lot to prove before he deserves a top-15 opponent, so I think a fight against fellow prospect Mirsad Bektic makes sense at this point for both men.
Winner: Abel Trujillo
Who Should He Fight Next: John Makdessi or Erik Koch
Not many expected Abel Trujillo to come out victorious against Tony Sims at UFC 195, and even less expected "Killa" to earn his first UFC victory via submission.
Tony Sims looked to be controlling the action early on, but he made a crucial mistake in leaving his neck out following a double-leg takedown, leading to Trujillo's guillotine finish.
"Killa" may never be a top 15 contender in the stacked Lightweight division, but nearly every fight he is in is a thrilling affair that ends via a finish.
Simply put, UFC matchmakers should continue to offer Trujillo favorable and exciting stand-up bouts, and if he shows marketed improvement in any type of win streak, then potentially he could get his shot at a contender down the line.
For now, I'd like to see Trujillo slug it out with John Makdessi or Erik Koch next.
For complete results from UFC 195: "Lawler vs. Condit," including play-by-play updates click here.