Two of the bigger questions lately in this crazy MMA world have concerned the next steps in the careers of Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans. Each man seems to be the clear number two in their respective division, but has also proven that he cannot dethrone the champion. At the same time, both Evans and Sonnen are two of the bigger names in the sport and are still in the midst of their fighting primes. Many fans, analysts, and other lunatics who follow even the most inconsequential aspects of this sport have already suggested that both Sonnen and Evans switch weight classes. And I agree. Seems like a fair trade between the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions. As opposed to re-hashing the same arguments, I'd like to suggest who each of these top contenders should meet in their new division.
Before I get to who specifically each man should face in his first foray into his new division, I'd like to reiterate the fact that both men are in very similar spots as they have proven to be better than practically everyone else in their division except the champion. As a result of that, the opponents I am suggesting for each man are also in similar spots with one another. The UFC's booking model is based on a very simply idea: match up fighters in a way that maximizes benefit for the company regardless of who wins. Said differently, the UFC generally books its fights -- especially the marquee fights -- in a way that gives the company a way to market the winner appropriately regardless of who it is.
Now, with that long diatribe out of the way, Evans and Sonnen should each fight highly-ranked up and comers in need of a big win. Evans should try to stop the Chris Weidman hype machine, while Sonnen should let us know how Alexander Gustafsson deals with the power double leg.
The benefits to these matches, the way I see it, is that it establishes a clear number one contender in two divisions that are currently in desperate need of -- you guessed it -- a new number one contender. After Silva's recent win over Sonnen, fighters like Weidman, Lombard, Bisping, Belcher, Stann, and Boesch are all vying for the top spot. Over at light heavyweight, there is currently really no one after Gustafsson knocking on the door of a title shot after the Jones v Hendo fight, but the Swede needs a marquee, big name win before being thrust into a main event on pay-per-view. Injecting Sonnen and Evans into each division solves each problem. On top of that, each fight would create an incredibly intriguing style match-up that would likely satisfy hardcore and casual fans alike. I'm hoping the UFC books these two fights as soon as possible.