Fights To Make After UFC 142

By Raphael Garcia

The Ultimate Fighting Championship took another trip to the “home” of mixed martial arts at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once again some of the best Brazilian fighters defended home turf against fighters from around the world, and at the close of the event, the home team had once again given the fans in attendance, and those watching at home, some exciting fights and new highlights to disperse. Going forward, match makers have the potential to create more interesting battles:

Jose Aldo versus the Lightweight Division
It hasn’t been a secret that featherweight champion Jose Aldo is interested in fighting in the 155-pound division. After watching him dispatch Team Alpha Male standout Chad Mendes in spectacular fashion, UFC President Dana White stated that he would be “open to” allowing Aldo to move up in weight class. With very few interesting contenders left in the 145-pound weight class, it would be very exciting to see how well “Scarface” would do in the most competitive division in the sport.

Aldo could be matched against any number of fighters, such as the winner of Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon, Nate Diaz, or the winner of Melvin Guillard vs. Jim Miller. Each of these competitors have pushed themselves near the top of the lightweight heap, and each would pose interesting challenges for Aldo’s potential debut in the weight class. The UFC has found themselves another champion that can possibly become the kind of highlight-providing superstar that MMA fans love. Moving him up to the toughest weight class in the sport has the potential to be an excellent move for both Aldo and the UFC.

Vitor Belfort vs. the winner of Michael Bisping vs. Demian Maia
Vitor Belfort has signed on to be one of the coaches for the Ultimate Fighter Brazil and is set to face off against countryman Wanderlei Silva later this year. While that fight has already been signed and set, if Belfort wins this match in similar fashion to their first contest back in 1998, it really won’t provide much of a career advancement for “The Phenom.” A better matchup for that purpose would be Belfort facing the winner of the Bisping-Maia bout that is set for January 28th on Fox.

Belfort has desperately wanted to rematch Anderson Silva since he was embarrassed by the middleweight champion in early 2011. Michael Bisping has made a push towards becoming the number one contender for the 185-pound crown. Both Belfort and Bisping are crisp strikers who can land stinging single shots and combinations at will. Belfort has shown more knockout power, while Bisping’s boxing style lends itself to scoring points on the judges’ scorecards. The standup battle between these two would be a technique-rich masterpiece for fans to enjoy.

Demian Maia’s standup has continued to improve since he was defeated by Anderson Silva, however it is unlikely that he would try to stand with Belfort if they meet in the cage. Instead, he would use his striking to set up a takedown, and work his world class grappling. The question is: would he be able to get that takedown while avoiding the power that Belfort has used to stop fighters in the past?

While I would pick Belfort against either Maia or Bisping, both competitors would offer an intriguing challenge.

Edson Barboza vs. Jacob Volkmann
Edson Barboza put himself in the early running for knockout of the year with the spinning wheel kick that he used to dispatch Terry Etim. Before the bout he had stated that he considers himself to be a top contender in the 155-pound weight class, and this bout adds fuel to his claim. From here I would like to see Barboza face off against another lightweight who is calling for tougher fights in Jacob Volkmann.

The only debate that would matter in this bout is that of Volkmann’s takedowns against Barboza’s takedown defense. Both of these fighters excel in areas where the other is weak, so the question would be: who is more effective at what he is good at? If this fight stays on the feet, Barboza would pick Volkmann apart with snapping leg kicks and various other strikes, racking up points while looking for the knockout.However Volkmann has demonstrated the ability to take anyone down and control his way to a decision victory. Whoever imposed his will would take a great step towards winning this bout, and I believe Barboza would do more to pull out a victory.

Rousimar Palhares vs. Brian Stann
Rousimar Palhares has always been a question mark in the middleweight division. The leg lock specialist consistently lurks around the top ten of the weight class, but can never break through to the upper echelon. It’s always very apparent that if he grabs a hold of your lower extremities he has the ability to destroy your legs with a moment’s notice. Riding another three-fight win streak, Palhares is ready to be tested once again, and Brian Stann is a key opponent in position to provide that trial.

Stann was a fighter who was rocketing up the middleweight ranks until he ran into Chael Sonnen at UFC 136. In order to stay a top-billed fighter in the division he needs to defeat a tough opponent, and a bout against Palhares would fit that criteria.

Stann would be the favorite and have a size advantage against Palhares. If he were able to keep the bout standing, then he would be able to control this bout, and possibly nail Palhares with the type of strikes that finished off Chris Leben. However, if the fight somehow hits the floor he would be in serious danger. If Sonnen was able to outgrapple Stann, it would only be a matter of moments before Palhares was grabbing ahold of a leg and twisting it in a sick direction.

Going into the event some questioned the value of UFC 142, and wondered whether fight fans would be interested in the event. But once the night was over, the UFC had once again put on a great event from South America, one which left fight fans interested in who these competitors should face next.

Click here to rate all the fights from UFC 142.

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