Photo by Anton Tabuena for MMA Fighting
UFC on Fuel 6 is in the books and while the event didn't hold a lot of relevance in any title chases, there were some interesting outcomes. Who would have thought that Cung Le would knock out Rich Franklin with one punch? That Takanori Gomi could win a decision? And what would have happened if Stanislav Nedkov had made it to the final bell, considering that he was actually down on every judge's scorecard despite everyone else in the free world giving him the first two rounds?
Anyway, let's take a look at a few matchups the UFC could go to next with some of the biggest names from Saturday's China card.
Cung Le vs. Chris Leben - Leben would clearly need to beat Karlos Vemola at UFC 155 for this to happen. I know that Nate made a few suggestions for Le in his piece, and Brian Hemminger over at MMA Mania thinks that Cung should retire while he's on top, but I think a Leben matchup is the best way to go. Neither man is in the title picture, but it would be a crowd-pleasing standup battle that would make good use of two unique fighters that don't really have a solid place in their division right now.
Rich Franklin vs. Roger Gracie - Yes, Franklin might retire. And yes, it's possible that Gracie doesn't actually come over to the UFC. But if all the pieces fall into place, this is a great matchup. It doesn't leave Rich in serious danger of getting knocked out again, and he's never been submitted in his 37-fight career. I know a lot of fans would rather see Gracie face off with another BJJ-based fighter, but I think this works really well too.
Thiago Silva vs.James Te Huna - Silva didn't exactly look awesome, but he got the job done. Silva's a much better submission fighter than Te Huna for sure, but he gets hit a lot and Te Huna hits as hard as anyone in the division. It'd be a good fight for an Australian card.
Takanori Gomi vs.Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner winner - Look, Gomi probably doesn't deserve a top fighter even though he's won two bouts in a row. He's been fed a steady stream of submission fighters, but why not throw him in there with a banger? I expect that Guillard will probably defeat The Worm, and Guillard/Gomi sounds pretty awesome to me. Even if it is Varner/Gomi, that would work too.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway - Both fighters have excellent records in the UFC (Kim is 7-2, 1 NC, Hathaway is 7-1), and they're both tall welterweights with long reach and solid grappling skills. It might not be the most exciting fight ever, but it seems like the next logical step for both guys to me.