Fights To Make After UFC 166

By Raphael Garcia

UFC 166 was a solid card from top to bottom that featured a number of finishes and dramatic moments. Now that the event is over, the main card winners have a lot to look forward to in their next bouts. Some will contest for titles, while others will get that much closer to shots at the belts they covet. Here are some suggestions for where these fighters should go next:

Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum

Though he was hurt in the opening seconds, Cain Velasquez looked dominant in his main event bout against Junior dos Santos. He beat the Brazilian in every area of the fight and was able to bring about a fifth-round finish. UFC President Dana White said that Fabricio Werdum is the next individual that Velasquez will face, and this particular Brazilian presents a different set of challenges for the champion.

Velasquez is a true mixed martial artist who has been able to blend his striking and wrestling into a distinctive fight style. Werdum has also become more well-rounded, as he has developed his striking game in the last few years, but his BJJ is still among the best in the division. If this bout goes to the floor, he has the ability to threaten Velasquez. The question is whether or not he will have the energy to do so due to Cain’s grinding style.

Velasquez vs. Werdum would be a very commercially successful bout if booked for Brazil or Mexico. While the UFC is trying to establish its brand in Mexico, it already has a proven market in Brazil. This bout should occur towards the later half of the first quarter of 2014.

Dan Cormier vs. Phil Davis

Dan Cormier dominated Roy Nelson during their co-main event bout at UFC 166, but he made it clear that he’s moving down to 205 for his next fight. He would like a shot at the champion immediately, but expects to have to win a bout first in order to get that opportunity. Phil Davis would make for a very interesting matchup for Cormier at this point in their careers.

Cormier has banked on his ability to bully his opponents with his wrestling abilities. He’s scored takedowns on every opponent at will while also landing shots in the clinch. However, he’s never faced an opponent with the wrestling abilities of Davis, a former national champion. Davis would also have a reach advantage, which would augment his slowly developing striking game. With another dominant win, Cormier would be able to claim the number one contender spot at light heavyweight, while Davis could get one step closer to getting the Jon Jones fight that many were once anticipating.

Daniel Cormier vs. Phil Davis could be a strong co-main event for the card that features Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira in the main event.

Gilbert Melendez vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez put on one of the greatest fights in mixed martial arts history at UFC 166. While a five-round rematch would be welcomed by anyone, Melendez should be one or two wins away from getting another shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship. Therefore, he should face a surging lightweight who is currently pushing his name onto contenders lists.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is 21-0 and riding a five-fight UFC win streak. At 25 years of age, he still has room to grow into this sport, but has looked like a true force at 155. Placing him and Melendez in the Octagon together would either give Nurmagomedov the chance to prove that he’s should be ranked within the top five of the weight class or give Melendez the opportunity to solidify his claim to being the next contender to Anthony Pettis‘s title.

Nurmagomedov vs. Melendez would be a strong co-main event on either a Fox or PPV card that would feature a title bout in the main event.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic

Gabriel Gonzaga is the type of heavyweight that the UFC needs more of. He’s a tough competitor that is very versatile in many areas of MMA, as well as a true gatekeeper for the top of the heavyweight division. Gonzaga should be matched against Stipe Miocic to see where Miocic should be ranked within the weight class.

Since joining the UFC nearly eight years ago, Gonzaga has demonstrated knockout power. His 11-6 record in the Octagon is very impressive, especially because all of those 11 wins have come by some form of finish. Miocic is a developing talent within the division, with a 4-1 record under the Zuffa banner. As the promotion continues to look through the heavyweight roster for new contenders for Cain Velasquez, a fight between Gonzaga and Miocic would help move the winner in that direction.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic should be billed as a main card bout on a UFC on Fox card.

Jon Dodson vs. the winner of Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

While the flyweight division is devoid of fresh challengers for Demetrious Johnson‘s belt, rematches with Joseph Benavidez and Jon Dodson create two exciting matchups for the current champion that are well worth a watch.

Dodson blew away Darrell Montague in the first round of their contest at UFC 166 and looked impressive in doing so. The former title challenger took very little damage as he dropped the UFC newcomer quickly, then put him away a few minutes later.

A fight against either Benavidez or Johnson, who are set to met at the Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale, would make for a very active and high energy affair. Dodson has the kind of power that uncommon among flyweight, as he is always one shot away from ending the night for his opponent. Going five rounds with Johnson at UFC on Fox 6 was a great experience builder for the former Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner. A bout against either Johnson or Benavidez would be an entertaining and exciting one.

Dodson vs. the winner of Demetrious Johnson vs. Joesph Benavidez could be the co-main event of a pay-per-view broadcast during the first quarter of 2014.

With their wins at UFC 166, these individuals have given the UFC matchmakers a chance to create some very good fights for the end of 2013 and early 2014.


UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III took place on October 19, 2013 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

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