Light Heavyweight Matchups

Dave Meltzer is smart and has the next six months of UFC Lightheavies booked up and ready to go...are you listening Joe Silva?

First off, you look at the championship picture. Jackson is expected to be ready in March. Griffin is also banged up, with a bum shoulder and a lot of cuts. It's not the perfect direction and many will be critical of it because of the resentment of the idea the company gives Griffin preferential treatment as a homemade star. But for business, Jackson vs. Griffin is the way to go. On paper, it's an exciting fight. Jackson is the favorite but Griffin operates better as the underdog. The public will buy this fight more than any other the company can offer today. Every fan poll of the match they want leads you to this conclusion, and Griffin's not being expected to win in early 2008 becomes a selling point in its favor. And with UFC, you can't try and build it up over time because everyone can and will lose before you get to your destination if you hold matches off.

Jardine vs. Alexander is a natural rematch. It's the man who cost Jardine the title shot vs. a fighter coming off the Liddell win in a rematch. Another win by Alexander will prove he's for real. Another win by Jardine and he'll have earned a title shot. Right now, the UFC is looking at a different direction with Alexander, so he's going to have to win one match before this is under consideration. Keep your fingers crossed on this one.

Liddell vs. Silva. Everyone wants the match. Both are coming off two straight losses. The only holdup is whether Liddell's ribs, battered by Jardine's kicks, will recover in time for Dec. 29, when UFC has booked Silva to debut. Stylistically, Liddell has always seemed to have the advantage in this match-up. He's got a better chin. He's the bigger man. He can counter Silva's wild style. But at this level, there is no result you can count on, particularly when both men have major question marks. And if Liddell doesn't win, at least he's lost to a guy who holds two wins over Jackson and can immediately be put into title contention.

The winner of Ortiz-Evans vs. Rua. Rua is out for a few months and the winner of Ortiz-Evans won't be ready until the spring. If Ortiz beats Evans, a Rua win will be seen to the public like a big deal because Ortiz is one of the biggest names. If Evans beats Ortiz, it'll be a real baptism-under-fire if the old Rua comes back. In this series, two wins by Ortiz, unlikely as that might be, puts a money player into legitimate title contention, and that means big business. Two wins by Evans and he'll at least be seen as a top-tier star. And if Rua wins, he'll have rehabbed his image pretty well.

This leaves Henderson vs. Machida. Henderson's relentless style and aggressiveness may be the counter to Machida's usual boring matches. Plus, if Machida can get past him, people have no choice but to care about him.

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