The Ultimate Fighting Championship took center stage on July 11th as UFC on Fuel TV 4 was the only sporting event available for sports fans to enjoy. This free televised event gave fans much to debate about and look back upon, as potential stars were born in two weight classes. Going forward, UFC matchmakers have a few new names to work with to create some interesting fights. Here is a look at a few suggestions:
Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort
After last night’s victory, Chris Weidman could have announced that he was running for President of the United States, and a strong contingent of people would have cast their votes in his favor. Instead, he decided to call out the middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva, which would be a tough task for any fighter, let alone someone with less than 10 professional fights. While he is an intriguing athlete in the division, and has proven that he can win big fights both on short and full training camps, he should have to face another top name before being granted a shot at the belt. Vitor Belfort is the ideal opponent for such a position.
We know what Belfort’s hands and wrestling abilities have done to fighters in the past. The Brazilian striker is always deadly on the feet, attacking with crisp and technical boxing that is really rare to see in the sport. It would be vital to see whether Weidman can overcome this kind of attack, because even though he torched Mark Munoz with that standing elbow, there were points in time where he had his hands down, and that would be very dangerous against Belfort. Weidman would have to dig deep, and stick to his high-level wrestling and grappling, to walk away from the cage with the win that could potentially cement his number one contender status.
While he didn’t get the finish, going the full fifteen minutes with Joey Beltran was exactly what Te Huna needed at this point in his career. In 20 career fights, that was only the second time he has gone the distance, and if he’s going to be matched against the better fighters at 205, he should be ready for long nights in the Octagon. However, before he’s considered a contender, he should face the winner of Ryan Jimmo vs. Anthony Perosh, which is set for UFC 149.
Jimmo is riding a 15-fight win streak, and making his UFC debut next weekend, while Perosh is 3-1 in the Octagon. They have a stark contrast in styles, as Jimmo is more of a striker, while Perosh’s grappling abilities have brought him the most victories during his career. The winner of this contest, especially if it is Perosh, would present a complex test for Te Huna to conquer. Perosh has a skill set that allows him to strike when needed, but also control fights on the ground after scoring takedowns. This is the right type of test to offer the New Zealand native, to see if he’s ready for the bigger names in the division.
The 37-year-old “A-Train” is the quintessential wrestler who knows how to battle for control throughout a 15 minute bout. While he may not have looked fantastic against Kenny Robertson, he still did more than enough to win the bout. He should be next matched against his original opponent, Jon Fitch, so we can all get the bout that was supposed to welcome him to the welterweight division.
Fitch is the type of fighter whose game plan is well-known before he steps into the cage. He’s going to look to get the takedown, and dominate the position battle while scoring with ground and pound. What makes it so frustrating for fighters is that regardless, few opponents have been able to stop him from doing so. Simpson is a tough wrestler who could fight off takedowns while looking for his own, but he’s struggled with cardio issues in the past, and it would be tough to see him keeping up with Fitch’s grinding style over 15 minutes. Either way, the UFC should still put this fight together once Fitch is 100 percent healthy.
T.J. Dillashaw seems to be well on his way to recovering from his first career loss at the hands of John Dodson. The TUF finalist is looking very well-rounded, and could be poised to put together a run in the bantamweight division that could see him as a title contender in 2013. Before he does so, however, he should be matched against Ken Stone, who is also making a push at 135.
Since being brought over from the WEC promotion and debuting in the Octagon, Stone has built a 2-1 record, with back-to-back wins in his last two fights. However, the two toughest opponents the 29 year old has faced, Eddie Wineland and Scott Jorgensen, have both defeated him. For him to be considered a true contender, and not be stuck in the role of gatekeeper, he needs to be able to defeat a rising name such as Dillashaw. This type of bout would help straighten up the bottom portion of the Top 15 within a division that is looking to create bigger stars.
Rafael dos Anjos has steadily improved during his lightweight campaign in the UFC. Currently 6-4 in the division, he’s one of those fighters that are hard to pick against, because he has so many different tools to work with in the cage. Even when he suffered defeats against Clay Guida and Jeremy Stephens, he was winning both of those bouts before suffering a broken jaw in one, and falling victim to a last effort uppercut in the other. While no one on the UFC roster should ever be overlooked, Dos Anjos in particular can “shock” people with his diversified attack. Seasoned fighter Mark Bocek would be a nice test, to see if he’s truly ready to put together a run.
Riding a two-fight win streak, Bocek is often forgotten at 155. However, he’s only been defeated by two former champions, a top contender, and an Ultimate Fighter season winner. He’s gone on record in stating that he believes that his ground game is the best in the division, and his seven submission victories provide strong evidence for his assertion. Matching him against Dos Anjos could create a potential grappling war, or it could bring about a bout where their abilities cancel each other out, and the fight ends up contested on the feet, where Dos Anjos would have an advantage. Regardless, this would be a great fight to help clear up their respective places within the middle pack of 155 pounders.
Mixed martial arts on free television is always a great thing. UFC on Fuel 4 gave us some strong performances, and now we can look forward to the event’s winners taking the next steps in their careers.