Ed. note: I want to welcome Mike Moffatt to the MMAConvert.com team. Mike will be sharing in the daily blogging duties as well writing the “Where do they go from here?” feature following each major event.
We’re now a couple of days removed from UFC 94, and though many of our questions leading up to it have been answered, we’re left wondering what could be next for both the winners and losers of Saturday night’s event.
It’s clear the ultimate goal of any mixed martial artist is to become a world champion, and this feature will examine just how close the winners are to getting their shot, and how far the losers have fallen down the ladder in their respective divisions.
Clay Guida & Nate Diaz
Clay Guida and Nate Diaz began the action on Saturday night and fought to a split decision, with Guida winning on two of three judges’ scorecards. It was a difficult pill for Diaz to swallow, and I personally believe (thanks Miss South Carolina, I always feel dumb after putting those words together) he has a much brighter future in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Guida must be seen as a gatekeeper of this division now. I used to think that he was a very exciting fighter, but in his last couple of fights I have grown quite bored of his style. Is he charismatic? Yes. Energetic? I can’t argue with that. Is he going to continue climbing the ranks and get a title shot in the near future? Please let the answer be no.
I would imagine Diaz will still be able to fight opponents that will move him up the ranks in this division. It appears he came out of the fight unscathed, and should the same be said for Joe Lauzon after Saturday night, I believe these two could put on a great fight. The winner would ultimately move right back into the title picture, while the loser would likely have to settle settle for fighting the lower-level talent in the division.
As for Guida, he continues to move up the ladder. There are only so many fighters with his style that I want to see in contention in this division, and after Sean Sherk’s next fight, I think these two would match up fairly well. Both have great cardio and strong wrestling, and perhaps Sherk’s underrated boxing will be enough to derail Guida.
Here’s to hoping at least.
Karo Parisyan also took home a split decision victory Saturday night, but did not look great doing it. Luckily for him, he is one of those fighters in the UFC who has the name recognition to be able to stick around win or lose at this point. Though I’d love to see him drop down to lightweight where he would surely be a force, I can’t imagine that will happen coming off a victory.
Once Mike Swick is healed up, I think it might be time to pair them up. Swick is an emerging contender in the welterweight division after dropping down from middleweight and a loss to Swick might be enough to convince Parisyan that a move down to lightweight is in his best interests. Should Karo be victorious, I suppose we could all agree that the old Karo is back. Either way, there is no need to panic (pun intended) for all of you Karo fans. We have not see the last of this judoka in the UFC. Before this past Saturday, who could have really said for sure?
Jon Jones & Stephan Bonnar
How about Jon Jones stepping up and defeating Stephan Bonnar? It is really quite difficult to determine where to slot Jones into the light heavyweight picture, but he is certainly making a name for himself.
Though I would not feel confident placing him against a contender at this point, booking him against someone with name recognition could be the wise move to put him in contention should he win. Three names that come to mind, depending on the outcomes of their next fights, include Houston Alexander, Matt Hamill, and maybe even Shogun Rua, if he loses to Liddell and remains on the UFC roster.
As for Stephan Bonnar, this loss must be devastating following a prolonged absence from the Octagon. Expect to see him on the undercard next time he’s in action, or perhaps on a UFC Fight Night card. It would not surprise me if his next opponent was someone making their UFC debut. A win would put Bonnar back on track, while a loss might be enough to give him some more time off to reevaluate his career.
I do feel, however, that Bonnar will be in the UFC as long as he wants to be. Dana White has said many times that the first fight between him and Griffin is what made the sport what it is today. How could White ever turn his back on either of those two?
Lyoto Machida & Thiago Silva
After an impressive KO of Thiago Silva, Lyoto Machida is on his way to a title shot.
If Rampage Jackson defeats Keith Jardine at UFC 96, then it will be Jackson getting the first shot at reclaiming his title against Rashad Evans, which will leave Lyoto looking in from the outside, again. Should that happen, it will be very interesting to see if Machida takes another fight. If so, I think Forrest Griffin would be an ideal candidate to fill that spot. Regardless of the outcome of that fight and the Rampage-Rashad fight, matching the two winners for the light heavyweight title is an easy sell for the UFC.
As for Thiago Silva, he’s still a very exciting fighter, and the loss to Machida shouldn’t drop him too far down the ladder. In fact, I’d like to see him face the loser of the match between Rampage and Jardine. It would make for a great fight that’s all but guaranteed to end in exciting fashion.
Georges St. Pierre & BJ Penn
Barring any major training injuries, Thiago Alves will get next crack at Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title. If GSP is able to successfully defend his title, hopefully we’ll see him move up a weight class for another “epic battle of champions” with Anderson Silva.
BJ Penn will presumably move back down to 155lbs to defend his lightweight title against Kenny Florian unless he decides his fighting career is over, which I doubt. Florian wants this fight bad, and has more than cemented his status as the number one contender. It’s one I’ll definitely be looking forward to.
Let me know what I got right and wrong in the comments. After all, there is a reason why I only get to speculate, while Joe Silva makes the actual decisions.