By Raphael Garcia
While losing at a UFC event isn’t the end of the world, it is a hard thing to come back from. Mixed martial artists more quickly return to the Octagon to have their hand raised in an effort to maintain the position they have earned in the cage. At UFC 145 we saw many great fights, and for those who didn’t come out on top, here are some suggestions of where they should be placed next:
Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida
While Rashad Evans was able to make it through five rounds of fighting with Jon Jones, he was unable to truly prove that he was any better prepared than any of the other former champions that have fallen to “Bones.” Now he should be placed against the one other combatant who has defeated him to get the opportunity to avenge that important loss.
Lyoto Machida was a major favorite going into his bout with Evans at UFC 98. He stopped Evans in the second round with a highlight reel knockout to clinch the 205-pound title. Evans claimed that he had a hard time preparing to defend his belt, as his camp was beginning to splinter amongst multiple coaches. As he has settled into the Blackzilians training group, now is the time to place these two competitors into a rematch that almost happened last year.
The true question would be if Evans would be able to figure out the puzzle that is Machida’s in and out style. Quinton Jackson and Mauricio Rua were able to pressure him around the cage, and Evans could try to use his striking and wrestling to do the same. However, we’ve seen the power that Machida has, and if he can catch Evans with another quick strike, he'll be able to finish him for the second time. Either way, this is a great fight for both competitors who are in need of a victory.
Brendan Schaub vs. Cheick Kongo
Being a heavyweight mixed martial artist without the ability to withstand damage is a dangerous situation. Both Cheick Kongo and Brendan Schaub have shown tremendous amounts of upside...until they are hit upside the head and left prone on the mat. Placing them against each other would give both men the opportunity to right the ship while showcasing some of their talents.
Schaub and Kongo are both heavy strikers that will exchange blows. Exciting as it may be, this fact has played right into opponents' hands during their recent outings. Kongo is the more technical striker of the two, and if he could find a way to avoid Schaub’s propensity for winging wild punches, he would be able to land more effective shots and finish the former NFL player.
Mark Hominick vs. loser of Leonard Garcia-Matt Grice
From title contender to loser of three straight, Mark Hominick is in a position to be cut from the organization. His next fight should be the bout to determine if he stays or goes. While he is a popular fighter that holds value to the organization in Canada, his three recent losses would find him in the UFC’s version of a pink slip bout. He should be placed against the loser of Leonard Garcia and Matt Grice.
Garcia and Hominick have fought before in what was a hotly-contested split decision victory for the “Machine.” Both fighters continued to move forward, throwing multiple strikes, with Hominick landing the most effective blows. Placing them against each other would not only give the fans an exciting fight, but it would also allow the UFC executives to decide which individual should be removed from the organization.
Matt Grice has lost one fight and is also looking to rebuild his momentum. If he loses to Garcia in June, he should be paired with Hominick. While the bout would not carry the same weight for Grice as it would for his opponent, he would still be a very tough test to determine if the former title contender should be kept in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Miguel Torres vs. loser of Eddie Wineland – Scott Jorgensen
It was just a few short years ago that Miguel Torres was considered among the pound-for-pound best in the world of mixed martial arts. However, since the lighter weight classes have received greater exposure as a part of the UFC, Torres has continued to slide down the rankings due to mounting losses. He should be placed against the loser of the Eddie Wineland – Scott Jorgensen fight in June.
Both Wineland and Jorgensen have been near the top of the bantamweight division in the past. Jorgensen lost to Dominick Cruz during the last WEC event in 2010, and Wineland lost a number one contender’s bout against Urijah Faber in 2011. Since then they have both continued to struggle to maintain their position in the weight class, as they have suffered additional losses in their most recent outings. The loser of this fight would create an interesting matchup for Torres, as it would pit prominent names in the weight class against one another while giving them both the opportunity to infuse a bit of interest into their careers from that point forward.
Stephen Thompson vs. Che Mills
It’s always interesting to watch how the UFC will work to develop their new talent, and Stephen Thompson is an example of an individual who was placed in the wrong situation too fast. After his highlight reel finish at UFC 143 many people were expecting the same when he was placed against tough veteran Matt Brown. However, the “Immortal” proved that while he may not have the best record, he’s still a tough foe for anyone to walk through in the Octagon. Even though he had Brown hurt in the first round, Thompson was outclassed and out of steam by the end of the fight. He should be placed against another individual who was given a tough test too fast on the same event, Che Mills.
Both Mills and Thompson had vicious finishes during their UFC debuts that proved their striking is something to be reckoned with. If placed against each other, we know they would give us a standing battle filled with back and forth action. This fight should be made to allow both fighters to face an opponent that is still new to the Octagon, but possesses the potential to become a name in the welterweight division if he is given the right opportunities to grow.
April 23, 2012
By Raphael Garcia