After the heavyweight UFC 146 delivered in a HUGE way, it’s time I deliver my look at what’s next for the 10 heavyweight competitors from Saturday’s pay-per-view event. I won’t mince words, let’s just get to it.
-Junior dos Santos looked as impressive as he ever has inside the octagon on Saturday night. After making very short work of Frank Mir, as was expected, Junior gets a hero’s welcome in Brazil, some time off, and a year-end date with the man who dropped the belt to him on FOX; Cain Velasquez.
-If Frank Mir can take one thing from his loss to Junior, it’s that he stepped up and took the toughest possible fight in the division, and showed no fear at any point. While he may have been outclassed, he didn’t go down without a fight, and Mir can still be a serious problem for anybody in the UFC. If the stars align as some would suggest, a rubber match with Brock Lesnar could do big business near the end of 2012. If not, Werdum vs. Mir is an amazing fight.
-Cain Velasquez looked like an absolute monster against Antonio Silva. I had little hope for “Bigfoot”, but that was just as one-sided of a beatdown as they come. Hopefully after he delivers all that blood to the Red Cross, Cain can get the gym and prepare for his rematch with Junior dos Santos. If both men can enter the cage at 100%, this really could be the best heavyweight bout of all time.
-Speaking of Bigfoot Silva, I’d like to see him work on his wrestling, as he has the striking and BJJ to hang with the elite in the UFC’s heavyweight division. While style-wise, it may not benefit him, a returning Shane Carwin could poise an interesting challenge for the Strikeforce import, and vice versa.
-Roy Nelson looked awesome in his three punch victory over Dave Herman. A big fat bonus, a highlight reel knockout, and a few more fights under the ZUFFA banner are now his, and I think he gets a long-awaited rematch with the last man to defeat Roy, albeit controversially, in the IFL, Big Ben Rothwell.
-Dave Herman has hit hard times. I still think he’s one of the best heavyweights in MMA, but he just doesn’t take any aspect of the fight game seriously enough to make a big impact. Don’t be surprised if he appears on an FX or FUEL TV card taking on Philip de Fries or someone who holds a similar ranking.
-Stipe Miocic showed how important conditioning is, weathering an early storm en route to an impressive and violent victory. I could see him taking on Struve in the near future, as it would signal a slight step up in competition. If not Struve, throw a dart at a list of heavyweights and make it happen. I’ll watch Miocic fight anyone, any time.
-Shane del Rosario looked damn impressive for about five minutes. There is no shame in losing to Stipe Miocic at all, he’s a legit prospect and will do huge things in the future. I have no reason to think del Rosario won’t do the same with his always improving skillset, which he will demonstrate against Pat Barry, Gabriel Gonzaga, or some other mid-tier heavyweight.
-Stefan Struve did what many expected. A quick guard pull, a quick submission, and a big fat paycheck. I’d like to see him matched up once again with Mark Hunt, as I still think that is a very interesting match-up, but if Hunt is out for an extended period of time, Miocic vs. Struve is still a very intriguing fight.
-Ideally, Lavar Johnson needs to continue to be matched up with strikers that possess absolutely no ground game. I don’t imagine favorable matchmaking will follow him around throughout his entire UFC career, but the UFC wants fireworks. Match him up with Cheick Kongo after Nog beats him, or, if you must, Christian Morecraft.
I’ve played my hand at fantasy matchmaking, and now I pass the buck to all of you. What matches should be made following UFC 146?