Like many MMA fans, my aptitude test indicates that I'd be a good UFC matchmaker. What could possibly be more fun than coming up with great fights for the world to see? So in no particular order, here are ten fights I want to see happen in the UFC:
1) Anderson Silva vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic - The Spider is interested in fighting at heavyweight, so why not put him up happen against one of the best heavyweight strikers of all time? Sure, Cro Cop is past his prime, but he still packs a whallop with that left leg of his. This matchup could be especially hot if UFC pull of a show Japan. I also wouldn't mind seeing Anderson take on Cheick Kongo.
2) Randy Couture vs. Cain Velasquez - Randy likes interesting fights, and one with Cain would fit the bill. Cain is young, strong, aggressive, and one of the hottest heavyweight prospects in the sport. If Cain gets past Ben Rothwell, a match with the Natural should be on everyone's mind.
3) Brock Lesnar vs. Roger Gracie - Obviously, Roger Gracie isn't in the UFC, and there are rumors that he's ducked some fights, but just close your eyes and imagine seeing the headline UFC 1XX: Gracie vs. Lesnar. Like Lesnar, Gracie doesn't have a lot of MMA experience (2-0 with both wins by submission), but he is one of the greatest grapplers in history with record-setting performances at the BJJ Mundials and ADCC. It would be the biggest BJJ vs. wrestling match of all time.
4) Brandon Vera vs. Jon Jones - Brandon Vera's gone from hot prospect to big question mark. His lackluster victory over a slower and clumsier Krzystof Soszynski couldn't have pleased UFC management, who have already cut his reported fight purse by 70%. Does Brandon want to be a f*cking fighter? Let's find out by putting him up against Jon Jones, one of the hottest prospects in the light-heavyweight division.
5) Matt Hughes vs. Karo Parisyan - Due to injuries suffered a few years back, Karo never got his desired title shot against former welterweight champ Matt Hughes. Since then, Karo's star has taken a fall due to a knockout loss to Thiago Alves and a positive drug test after UFC 94. At the same time, Hughes' wrestling-focused game is clearly losing its effectiveness. This is a perfect "who still has it?" matchup.
6) Dan Henderson vs. Nate Marquardt - There's a big debate over which guy is more deserving of a title shot, and there's only one way to settle it - let them fight. Dan vs. Nate is more interesting than either guy taking on Anderson Silva anyway. This could be a perfect co-main event to the BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez fight in November.
7) Diego Sanchez vs. Kenny Florian 2 - Kenny Florian's improved quite a bit since he appeared on The Ultimate Fighter, where he fought at middleweight. But just how much has he improved? The best way to find out is to put him up against Diego, who creamed him at the original TUF finale.
8) BJ Penn vs. Gray Maynard - Gray is probably a couple of wins away from a title shot, but this dominant wrestler may be the only lightweight capable of giving the Prodigy a run for his money. BJ is worlds above Gray in terms of technique, but Maynard has outstanding physical strength and takedown ability. If Maynard murderizes Roger Huerta with an impressive finish at UFC Fight Night 19, his name should come up in title contention talk. The UFC could also work a student vs. teacher storyline - Gray got his start in the sport as a training partner for BJ, and was on Team Penn during TUF Season Five.
9) Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 2 - Frank Mir doesn't like people discounting his victory over Big Nog, who came into their UFC 92 contest with some serious injuries. Now that Minotauro is back on track with a big win over Randy Couture, let's give Frank Mir a chance to shut the naysayers up. I mean, I'm still trying to find somebody who cares about his upcoming bout with Kongo.
10) Dustin Hazelett vs. Paulo Thiago - I want to see these BJJ experts take it to the ground and attempt to tie each other in knots. Grappling wars with guys who go for the finish are awesome. They could even try a reverse Marcus Davis/Chris Lytle vow - the first guy to throw a punch is a pussy. We'd also get to see Thiago fight someone at his own level - not a top-5 title contender.
Joe Silva, you hiring?