Fights To Make After UFC on Fox 2

By Raphael Garcia

The UFC’s second fight card on Fox went the distance and provided fans with interesting fights throughout the evening. After the show was over we had two title fights set, and potentially a number of other big matchups down the line. Here are some suggestions for bouts that should be made going forward.

Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones

Needless to say this bout has been on the docket for quite some time. Now, both fighters are healthy and poised to face each other for the UFC light heavyweight title. Former teammates, Rashad Evans and Jon Jones are two people know a lot about each other, but enough time has passed that said information may have become irrelevant.

Jones has been a talent to watch since he burst onto the UFC scene. He’s going to enter this bout as a clear favorite, and he should be. With an 84-inch reach, he will be able to pick apart Evans from a distance in an even worse manner than he did Quinton Jackson back at UFC 135, attacking Evans from different angles before “Suga” can get in close to use his powerful strikes or quick takedowns.

When fighting Phil Davis, Evans displayed the one option he may have to get Jones to the ground when he was able to catch Davis’s kicks and use sweeps or takedowns from that point. If he can catch one of Jones’s long legs he will be able to get this bout to the ground, where he will have a better opportunity to score points. However, this is going to be much harder than it sounds, because as we have seen, Jones can attack from so many different angles.

I believe that Jones will be able to finish Evans after scoring a takedown in the third or fourth round and battering him with his patented elbow strikes.

Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva

Chael Sonnen created the blueprint on how to defeat Anderson Silva when they fought back in August of 2010. Questions over Silva’s health and Sonnen’s drug test aside, he proved that he has the ability to defeat the champion before he was caught and submitted.

However, that was not the Sonnen we saw when he faced off with Michael Bisping. Bisping was aggressive throughout the bout, and was able to push Sonnen around the cage multiple times. He was also able to land crisp strikes at will, defend takedowns, and get back to his feet after successful takedowns. As Sonnen prepares for Silva, he will have to improve upon the way he blocks punches with his face. I understand that he bull rushes his opponent to score takedowns in that manner, but the best striker in MMA will be able to cut him up if he does the same this time around. Sonnen is going to have to take him down and rack up points the exact same way he did the first time these two individuals fought.

I believe that Silva will be able to attack Sonnen with damaging shots from multiple angles, leading to a third round finish. Sonnen may have the ability to become the middleweight champion of the world, but not if he fights the same way he did against Bisping.

Chris Weidman vs. Alan Belcher

Chris Weidman went a long way towards raising his stock with UFC matchmakers. Not only did he win a second bout on short notice, he also defeated one of the top-ranked middleweights in the world. For three rounds he was able to impose his will against Demian Maia, defeating the former middleweight title contender on 11 days notice. Even though the fans in attendance booed the fight, Weidman was still able to accomplish something that many people, including myself, believed he would not be able to. From here, the UFC should do all they can to “protect” their prospect and develop him into a viable contender. Matching him against Alan Belcher would be a strong step towards achieving that goal.

Belcher was once in the position that Weidman is in today: a young, new face who was becoming a fan favorite while putting on exciting bouts. A serious injury derailed that train, and Belcher has recently returned to the sport after a yearlong layoff. Before he went away, he was a rising fringe contender to the middleweight title, but right now he would be a very suitable test for Weidman, who could be the next face of the division.

Belcher versus Weidman would be a contrast of styles. Belcher is a powerful striker whose body kicks have left fighters’ midsections red with bruising. I believe he would be able to aggressively attack Weidman from multiple angles, and outpoint him on the feet. What he would have to worry about, however, is Weidman’s ability to use that aggression against him and score quick takedowns, because on the mat, Belcher would be in bad position.

While Belcher is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he has never demonstrated the grappling abilities that Weidman has shown in the cage. From his multiple submission victories, to being able to control Maia on the mat, he’s proven to be very well-versed on the ground. Coupled with his controlling wrestling, that grappling acumen would enable him to maintain a dominant position throughout the bout.

I see Belcher scoring early and often on the feet at the start of every round, but Weidman will score consistent takedowns and control position, earning a unanimous decision victory over “the Talent.”

Evan Dunham vs. John Cholish

Evan Dunham went from potential contender to worrying about having a job at this point last year. Since then he has been able to work his way back to being a name in lightweight division by giving us dominating wins over Shamar Bailey and Nik Lentz. While Dunham is not ready to once again enter the deeper waters of the weight class, he is still a tough competitor, and I would like to see him matched against John Cholish in a future contest.

Dunham has range in his striking and knows how to land accurate strikes; he used those abilities against Lentz to damage his eye. However, he and Cholish are nearly the same size, so he would be unable to rely on his length, as he has done in the past. But where this bout would really get interesting is on the mat. Dunham has stout grappling abilities that he has displayed over his career, which includes 6 submission victories. But Cholish, who trains at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City, is a well-versed grappler as well, and his rolling knee bar submission win over Marc Stevens is still highlight reel quality.

Although Dunham would be the favorite going into this bout, I believe that Cholish would be able to win based on his ability to score takedowns and work his Jiu Jitsu towards a decision victory.

Mike Russow vs. Lavar Johnson

Mike Russow and Lavar Johnson are needed in the UFC’s heavyweight division, the weakest division of the lot. The largest men in the Octagon are far from the most skilled, and the division lacks depth because the sport has a dearth of quality big men to choose from. However, pitting these two big men against each other would provide an exciting contest — maybe not the most technical, but a fight to get the fans out of their seats.

Many remember the beating that Russow took at the hands of Todd Duffee before he scored a shocking comeback knockout victory. Johnson debuted in the organization Saturday night by blasting Joey Beltran in the first round. In placing these two heavyweights together,we will either get Johnson stopping Russow quickly, or Russow grinding out a victory the way he did against John Olav Einemo.

While the UFC may not have put on the crowd-pleasing bouts they would have wanted, UFC on Fox 2 was still an interesting card that would appease any fight fan, especially since it was on free TV. Going forward, the winners have some career-developing fights to look forward to.

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