Well after last night GSP vs. Koscheck 2 hyped by a TUF season seems like the most logical thing to do. Like many others I am not too keen on Champions taking time off to do the show but as it stands Pierre has taken out a lot of the competition having defended his title 4 times now. So having him doing The Ultimate Fighter with Koscheck will give some time for the divison to play itself out a little bit.
I was a little weary with Koscheck’s in-ring antic regarding the downed knee that grazed him, thinking is this the sought of man that deserves a title shot? But with that he did dominate and his post-fight interview and disrespect of the Canadian fans solidified a match with Pierre if not only for the entertainment aspect it will bring to the build up.
I fully expect a GSP vs. Koscheck rematch in Canada is going to be huge, I mean Pierre vs. anyone in Canada is going to go down well but with Koscheck playing the heel and having a platform in TUF to do it the hype for this fight will be off the charts.
There is also the fact that Koscheck whether you love him or hate him has a slight chance to be competitive with his foe, I expect Pierre to win but I don’t think it will be totally one sided. We’ll have to wait and see.
Of course there is another in Shields, but at the moment he is not a UFC employee. And until he is they can’t really make that match up. It seems likely that he will join the UFC and if he has to take one more fight in the meantime it will only do good, give him a chance to acclimatise back at 170 since he’s being fighting at 185 the last few fights and also a win shows without a doubt he’s the #1 contender. Of course he could get beat but who ever does so likely strengthens their case of a title shot. It’s all good.
So the GSP/Koscheck/Shields triangle will likely take up the better of 10 months. And in that time new contenders will emerge and fall. The beauty of this sport is that you never know what’s going to happen till it happens. Sure we have preconceptions of what we think will happen but it doesn’t always turn out that way. It was only last October that Lyoto Machida looked almost unstoppable and seemed like the most difficult fighter in the UFC to beat in theory, and we all saw how that turned out.
So with that I’d like to turn a little attention to the guys who aren’t quite there yet but given a year and circumstances could make some noise in the Welterweight division…
Johnny Hendricks & TJ Grant
Seeing as they just fought yesterday the seem the obvious to talk about first. They had a good close fight and both showed a lot of upside. Hendricks is a powerful wrestler and has a way to go but if he continues to improve and most importantly win he could easily become a force in the division. Grant though he lost held his own and showed he has a lot of potential too. He also had the (Montreal) crowd strongly behind him here (and also in his debut at UFC 97) which you don’t see too often for a guy on the prelims. So with the fan support and if he keeps stepping up his game he could become another Canadian star in his own right.
And now to some upcoming Welterweight fights…
Amir Sadollah vs. Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 114
This should be an interesting fight. And though Sadollah is getting thrown in the deep end here with a win he could potentially throw his name into contention granted he‘ll need a few more victories after this, but Kim is no slouch and if Sadollah can beat him soundly then I think he just goes up from there. If he loses he’ll get time to become more seasoned, it’s a win-win for him. If Kim wins he’ll be 4-0 in the UFC. So the winner of this fight has nowhere to go but up. Whether they get knocked down again remains to be seen.
Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway at UFC 114
This is really sink or swim for Hathaway. Not an easy fight at all for him but if he somehow manages to pull it off then he throws his name into the contenders hat easily. Though it appears far more likely that Sanchez will win and given a few more he’s right in the mix again.
Carlos Condit vs. Rory McDonald at UFC 115
And yet again we have a prospect taking the high road. Condit has struggled a little in the UFC and though I’m leaning to him to win I expect McDonald to put up a good fight. McDonald is only 20 and win or lose come fight-time he’ll still be one to keep an eye on. And with a win even more so.
It’ll be interesting to see where all these guys are in a year or so. And of course there are also others who could make some noise given time such as Antony Johnson, Jake Ellenberger, Rick Story, Nick Osipczak and so on…
And of course we also have the Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves rematch coming up, Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Hughes aswell as Paulo Thiago vs. Martin Kampmann. The Welterweight division aint looking too shabby to me. I still think GSP will be top of the mountain this time next year but you never know. And hopefully some interesting challenges await him.