By Raphael Garcia
UFC 154 brought answers to many different questions, but of course, the MMA community is now asking so many more. Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre was successful in his first bout in 18 months as he defeated Carlos Condit in front of his hometown Montreal crowd. But now, he and the other winners from the night are faced with possibilities for interesting bouts that can serve as the next steps in their respective careers.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
Yes, it is well understood that the powers that be want to make the super fight against Anderson Silva. The big payday, mainstream coverage, and everything else that will come with said bout would do wonders for the UFC and MMA as a whole. However, making the bout with Hendricks would be more about maintaining the integrity of not only the welterweight division, but the middleweight grouping at the same time.
Hendricks has forced his way into the number one contender spot at 170. Being only the second man to defeat Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, along with becoming one of the only fighters to dispatch Martin Kampmann the way he did, is more than enough to justify his claim to this fight. Hendricks has a personality behind him which would help with the marketing side of the matchmaking as well. Inside of the Octagon he has the skills that would be a big deterrent to St. Pierre’s main tactics, including a wrestling pedigree that very few have, and the takedown defense to stop multiple shots. He also has power in his standup that would force the champion to be on the defensive.
“Rush” has proven that he is a tactical ace in the Octagon who has defeated all of the different styles sent his way. However, would be interesting to see how he would deal with the weapons that Hendricks brings into the cage.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. the winner of Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon
Rafael dos Anjos gave Mark Bocek a beating that many people did not expect to see. Dos Anjos has continued to improve since first entering the Octagon, and his three-fight win streak has positioned him as a fringe contender in the lightweight division. To test how much the Brazilian fighter truly has grown, he should be matched against either Jim Miller or Joe Lauzon.
While Miller has shown that he is a tough opponent for any fighter at 155, he has not been able to make his way into the position of top contender. As a gate keeper, however, he is the perfect measuring stick for new faces that are looking to break through and eventually compete for the title. Miller has the grappling abilities and the physical strength to be a threat to dos Anjos on the mat, but his striking is not technical enough to be a true threat on the feet. That is where dos Anjos has improved the most, and that would be a major issue for Miller in this bout.
Against Lauzon he would be facing a more complete fighter; however, Lauzon has shown weaknesses in the cardio department. While competing against Bocek, dos Anjos was very active for the majority of the contest, and opponents that can weather Lauzon's opening storm have posed problems for "J-Lau."
A matchup with either Lauzon or Miller on free television would be a great way to further build dos Anjos into a potential contender at 155.
Francis Carmont vs. Brian Stann
Quietly, Francis Carmont has put together a four-fight win streak over a little more than a year. The Paris, France native has stopped two of those opponents, while defeating the two others by decision. In his first bout against a bigger name in the organization, Carmont had a tougher go of things, but he was still able to pull out the victory. But in order for him to move forward at middleweight he will have to defeat more established names, and Brian Stann would be a step in the right direction.
Stann was surging in the middleweight division until he was defeated by Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping. Now, he will have to work to rebuild his stature in the weight class, and avoid the dreaded “gatekeeper” tag. He would be the favorite against Carmont, simply because more people are familiar with his accolades in the cage. However, the Frenchman has shown that he is well versed on the feet and on the mat, and would pose some problems for the former American military serviceman.
The outcomes of UFC 154 gave fight fans some exciting matchups to look forward to for the winners, who can expect future contests against game opponents who will either aid in their ascents on the UFC ladder, or stop them cold in their tracks. Fight fans will be looking forward to seeing which way they go.
November 19, 2012
By Raphael Garcia