UFC 95 is now in the books and it was a great night of fights. With only two fights going to the judges’ scorecards, fans were able to catch the majority of the bouts during the telecast and were treated to some spectacular finishes. Whether you enjoy a quality knockout or a picture perfect submission, UFC 95 delivered on both fronts.
Now, the fighters will turn their attention towards a future opponent in hopes of continuing a streak or rebounding from a crushing defeat.
So what’s next for the fighters from UFC 95?
What a devastating defeat for Koscheck against an opponent with little to no name value. When Koscheck lost to Alves, he was quickly forgiven, and was able to secure a brutal knockout victory shortly thereafter. He should be credited with stepping up to fight whoever the UFC puts in front of him, and for taking so many fights in a short period of time, but this fight did not make any sense for his career, and now he will pay for it. Koscheck has always been a confident fighter, but he proclaimed that he had not watched any tape on Paulo Thiago and he should realize that he has no one to blame but himself for this loss. His confidence in his improved stand up was also misguided, as he threw a sloppy leaping jab and got caught with an uppercut that put him out. I believe we will still see Josh against top level competition in the welterweight division, but a title shot within the calendar year has surely just gone out the window.
Junior Dos Santos
Although the knockout of Werdum was impressive, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Dos Santos. After another first round finish, I’m still not quite sure how I feel about him, unfortunately. He has looked great in these last two fights, however Struve was clearly outmatched on Saturday night, and I believe was only placed against Dos Santos to be used as a stepping stone. Did it look good? Well yes, of course it did. But I think it’s time now to see Dos Santos take a step up in competition and truly be tested. I wonder what Gonzaga might be up to after his fight at UFC 96?
Sonnen looked quite average on Saturday night when he took on Damien Maia, but perhaps that is to be expected. Personally, I believe that this fight told us a lot more about Maia than it did Sonnen. Even though Sonnen wanted us to believe that he and Maia were the top two middleweights in the world, I don’t think anyone else was willing to take his word for it. It’s time for Sonnen to work his way up in the ranks, and take on some middle of the pack fighters. He is clearly not ready to face the best the UFC has to offer.
Hardy continues to look good when he steps into the Octagon and is developing a fan base overseas. Rory Markham is no joke and Hardy was able to implement his game plan and take him out. As he mentioned after his fight, Hardy wants to take on Marcus Davis. The fight makes sense and I’m sure both fighters would welcome the opportunity to stand and trade with each other. This one is a no-brainer. Book it.
Zane, however, happens to strongly disagree.
Demian Maia and Nate Marquardt
How many times have we heard that the UFC’s middleweight division lacks depth? Anderson Silva is a beast, this is true, but to say that there are no fighters who are worthy of challenging him for his title is a misguided statement. Thales Leites has been granted his shot at UFC 97, and Yushin Okami has been waiting for his chance for quite some time now as well. We also know that Bisping and Henderson are set to square off at UFC 100, and it is assumed that the winner of that matchup will be granted a title shot. On Saturday night, two more worthy adversary’s added their names to the list with impressive finishes of dangerous opponents. Maia is simply a wizard and there isn’t really all that much that can be said about him that hasn’t already been said. As for Marquardt, he has looked like an entirely different fighter since his bout with Anderson Silva, and he appears ready for another at this time. Both of these men are worthy of an immediate title shot, if not for the long line in front of them. Matching them up against each other seems logical at this point, as it will establish a clear number one contender for the belt after Henderson or Bisping get their shot.
It should now be clear that Stevenson doesn’t have what it takes to hang with the top level competition in the lightweight division. He now finds himself at a crossroads in his career where he must decide whether acting as a gatekeeper is something he wants to do. I don’t foresee another title shot for Joe Daddy at any point in the near future, and I don’t believe that staying at lightweight is something that Stevenson will want to do. A move down to featherweight in the WEC could likely resurrect his career and competitive drive. The move does not have to be a permanent one, but the options in the UFC for Stevenson are quite limited right now.
The move down to lightweight worked out very well for Sanchez, and I believe that he has found a new home in that division. Diego is already near the top of the division based on his body of work at welterweight and his potential at lightweight. Though there are a number of fighters above him in the rankings and on a verge of a title shot of their own, Sanchez shouldn’t need more than two or three more wins before he will get his chance at UFC gold. I would love to see Sanchez take on Roger Huerta, but with only fight left on Huerta’s contract, this might not be a fight that makes enough sense for the UFC to book. Clay Guida has expressed interest in fighting Sean Sherk, a matchup that I believe makes sense, but if that fight isn’t booked, perhaps Guida will be open to taking on Diego.
What say you? Let me know what I got right and what I got wrong in the comments.