Jim Miller is rolling toward a title shot after destroying Kamal Shalorus on Saturday at UFC 128. Photo by Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports
With UFC 128 in the books, it's time to take a look at what's next for the five winners on the show's main card, which emanated from Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. and saw Jon Jones capture the UFC light-heavyweight championship with a third-round TKO of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has a tough job. If I were in his shoes, here's the fights I'd make going forward:
Jon Jones: It's already been announced that Jones will fight former teammate Rashad Evans at an upcoming event. After taking two big fights in such a short timeframe, it's likely Jones will be granted some time off before having to defend his championship for the first time. Once recovered from his knee injury, I'm sure Evans is going to want the fight to happen sooner than later considering how long he's been sitting on the sidelines. On the surface, this is a real tough fight for Evans. If Jones puts him on his back, how is he going to react? It's another intriguing fight but as we've seen, the oddsmakers are giving the former champ no respect whatsoever, as Evans has opened as a +375 underdog in the fight, absolutely astronomical odds rarely seen in UFC title clashes, especially in this division.
Urijah Faber: UFC president Dana White told the media following Saturday's show that Faber is now the No. 1 contender for Dominick Cruz's UFC bantamweight championship. The fight makes sense, but with White saying the two aren't likely to oppose each other as coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter 14," I have to wonder how much business sense that fight makes at this point in time. Cruz is a complete unknown to the UFC fanbase and the rivalry between the two is something real that can be built upon and get both guys over in the process. I would consider it a missed opportunity at this point if they don't go in that direction.
Jim Miller: Now here's a guy in a real interesting spot. Miller is 9-1 in the UFC, with the lone loss coming to Gray Maynard, and has won seven straight fights. He absolutely dominated and blasted Kamal Shalorus on Saturday, handing him his first career loss and showed the type of intensity you want out of somebody who is hunting down a title shot. Miller, though, is going to have to wait until the lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Maynard and the clash between Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida are over and done with before finding out his next assignment. Now, if there's injuries, Miller can be moved into either of those fights and you know he'd take it. Miller needs to fight one of those four men in his next fight. And, really, I don't care who he fights in his next fight, but if he wins it, he deserves a title shot. It could be against the last guy on Joe Silva's depth chart. Eight wins in a row is something almost no one has accomplished in the UFC. If he does it, he should get a shot.
Nate Marquardt: After dominating Dan Miller on Saturday, Marquardt said he's thinking of moving to welterweight. That opens up about a million possibilities. If Marquardt stays at middleweight, I'd like to see him fight the winner of the UFC 130 fight between Brian Stann and Jorge Santiago. He would be a good test for both of those fighters and vice versa. If he moves to welterweight, it's wide open because he basically hasn't fought anybody there (with the exception of Martin Kampmann, who he met at middleweight). Now the question is, if he does move to 170 pounds, how does the UFC want to handle him there? Will they throw him right in at the same level as he was at at 185 — meaning a fight with someone who's "in the mix" like Josh Koscheck or Thiago Alves — or have him make his divisional debut against someone in the second tier, a Dan Hardy/Anthony Johnson, Dong Hyun Kim, Jake Ellenberger type. Either way, just the prospect of Marquardt making 170 is intriguing.
Brendan Schaub: "The Hybrid" made a statement knocking out Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. Now it's time to see Schaub against some tougher competition. A good place to start would be against the winner of the May fight between Frank Mir and Roy Nelson. Or if they want to let Schaub completely kill off PRIDE, match him up with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Rio in August. Fun all around.