Fights To Make After TUF Live Finale

By Raphael Garcia

Airing this past Friday, the Ultimate Fighter Live Finale was an event that gave the fighters on the show the opportunity to present their skills to the MMA fan base. Headlined by a fight between welterweight contenders Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger, this event featured a number of intriguing matchups involving fighters from the show. And while these new entrants into the promotion will now have to battle to hold onto their UFC roster spots, here are some fight suggestions for the more established combatants on the card.

Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks 

Martin Kampmann pushed his way to top three welterweight status when many people thought he wouldn’t. However, looking back at his record, he very well could be riding a wave of seven straight wins, had it not been for controversial decision losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez. One of the more vital aspects of Kampmann’s current rise is that he isn’t content to sit on the sidelines and wait for the mess at the top of the division to be figured out before stepping back into the Octagon, as so many others seem inclined to do. His willingness to stay active should be rewarded, and a fight against Johny Hendricks later this year for a title shot against the Georges St. Pierre –  Carlos Condit winner is the exact way to do it.

Kampmann is a very technical striker that leans on his ability to land kicks and punches from range and within the pocket. At the same time, this has also been a detriment, as he’s been damaged a lot over his last three bouts against fighters who are willing to stand and trade. He would have to avoid that practice against Hendricks, who has shown one-shot knockout power. Kampmann would have the advantage on the feet, but he has to stay away from that one power shot while scoring from distance.

Hendricks is an outstanding wrestler who would be able to take many fighters to the ground with ease. Kampmann has shown the ability to get back up to his feet when needed, but his grappling abilities are also underrated. He could be very dangerous on the ground if Hendricks can’t control the positioning battle once the fight lands there.

Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann should face each other to truly determine the number one contender in the 170-pound division. With so many different aspects to this fight, it would be exciting to see who would push his style onto his opponent in the hopes of gaining a shot at the gold.

Jake Ellenberger vs. winner of Rick Story/Brock Jardine

The hype train for the “Juggernaut” hit a serious bump on Friday night. Not only was he stopped, but he looked so dejected in the loss that it was hard not to notice how long he was laying on the mat. Ellenberger was expected to be the next fighter to stand across the Octagon from the welterweight champion, but that has all been brought to an end. To start rebuilding his momentum back to where it once reached, Ellenberger should be matched against the winner of Rick Story versus Brock Jardine, which will happen at UFC on Fox 4.

Story was in Ellenberger’s position last year before he ran into Charlie Brenneman and fell victim to what was possibly the upset of the year. His luck hasn’t improved, as his second straight defeat came against Kampmann later that year. If Story can get a win against Jardine, especially if he does so in highlight reel fashion, he should be matched against Ellenberger, which would set up a fight story around two athletes who are looking to get back into the title conversation.

Jardine, on the other hand, is a fighter who is stepping into the Octagon for the first time against Story and what better way to make a name for yourself than by defeating two guys who were both recently ranked very high? If he could defeat Story, then take down Ellenberger in the same year, that would be a great way to kick off his UFC career.

Mike Chiesa vs. John Cholish

By winning this season of the Ultimate Fighter, Mike Chiesa has thrown himself into the deep end. Welcome to the toughest division in mixed martial arts. In recent times we’ve seen many a TUF winner struggle to find his place against the tough opposition that awaits him, and Chiesa could end up in the same position. The UFC’s lightweight division is crowded with fighters who can all stop a fighter’s momentum in a heartbeat. Chiesa has his work cut out for him if he wants to have a successful career as a UFC lightweight, and he should be welcomed by another individual looking to carve out a place in the division: John Cholish.

While Chiesa was victorious this season, it is apparent that he has holes in his game that would be exploited by the crafty veterans at 155. The same could be said about John Cholish, who looked good in both his Strikeforce and UFC debuts, but recently ran into a roadblock in the form of Danny Castillo. This would be a tough bout for Chiesa as his welcome into the organization proper, as Cholish would hold advantages in many different areas, but he has shown in the past that he can pull out victories when facing a “more talented” fighter, and he would have to do the same in this fight.

Charles Oliveira vs. winner of Hatsu Hioki/Ricardo Lamas

On Friday night, Charles Oliveira forced his name onto the list of potential challengers for fellow Brazilian Jose Aldo. The 22 year old fighter has been impressive in all of his Octagon appearances (excluding his two losses to the highly-regarded lightweights Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller), and continues to improve in all areas of the game. After his guillotine submission win over Jonathan Brookins, “Do Bronx” might be one or two wins away from being considered the top contender to the title.

Hatsu Hioki is the fighter that many consider the true number one contender at this time, but his election to take other fights before challenging Aldo has led to him being leapfrogged by Erik Koch and possibly Chan Sung Jung. If he defeats Lamas later this month, he may elect to wait for a title shot, but that could see him shelved until sometime in 2013. A bout against Oliveira should be presented as an opportunity to solidify his place at the top of the featherweight contenders list.

With his two Octagon wins, Lamas has crept up the featherweight rankings more slowly. And while his name doesn’t carry the same weight as other fighters in the weight class, he is still a fighter worth taking note of. 

Pairing either of these fighters with Charles Oliveira would be a great way to turn one of these individuals into a contender for Jose Aldo, who is close to cleaning out the division.

As with every UFC event, matchmakers are presented with a variety of opportunities to develop these fighters into names that mainstream fans can follow. With the multitude of fight cards coming this year, these fights would help them do so.

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