August 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Shogun Rua celebrates after defeating Brandon Vera during the light heavyweight match at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
All the talk from last night's event was centered around one thing - who will get a light heavyweight title shot? We know the answer to that now, but what about the other seven fighters on the main card? Where do they go from here? All of them performed admirably so it's not like any of them are going to get released. Let's take a look at who they might meet the next time they enter the octagon.
Mauricio Rua: There are a variety of options for Shogun at the moment. The name on most people's lips seems to be Alexander Gustafsson, and I like that fight, but I think he's still going to be coaching TUF Brazil 2 and taking on a Brazilian light heavyweight next. Machida would have made the most sense, but the next best option is Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The two men met in an epic battle in 2005, and a rematch would draw a lot of eyeballs. Some fans might think Shogun deserves tougher competition, but I like the idea of Lil Nog/Shogun 2.
Brandon Vera: A reporter asked if there's still a possibility of Vera getting cut at the post-fight press conference last night, and Dana White called it one of the stupidest questions of the year. Despite his shoddy record of late, Vera's clearly there to stay for a while. The problem is that he badly needs a win. Give him Chad Griggs. He was dropping to 205 to fight Phil Davis before he got hurt, and has a small fanbase from his Strikeforce days. It's a winnable fight for Vera that people would watch (on the prelims, hopefully).
Lyoto Machida: This one's pretty easy. Machida will get a UFC light heavyweight title shot against the winner of the UFC 151 bout between Jon Jones and Dan Henderson. I'd like to see Henderson win for many reasons, but one of them is that I love the idea of Hendo/Machida. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to be the way it goes.
Ryan Bader: I personally like the idea of sticking him in there with Forrest Griffin next, but that's probably not the direction they're going to go. Perhaps he can face the loser of the prospective bout between Thiago Silva and Stanislav Nedkov at UFC 153.
Joe Lauzon: They're not going to go back to the Etim fight after this big win, but I do have one off-the-wall suggestion - Rafael dos Anjos. I know that Lauzon will probably end up getting a higher-ranked opponent, maybe a Cerrone or even possibly Guida next, but I absolutely love the idea of Joe Lauzon vs. Rafael dos Anjos. They match up perfectly, and that's a surefire fight of the night in my eyes.
Jamie Varner: I don't think Varner's stock went down much with that performance, especially on short notice. A very good next opponent for him would be a guy he somehow never fought in the WEC, Anthony Njokuani.
Mike Swick: I'm not sure if Swick is ready to jump back in there with the sharks of the welterweight division just yet. If they want to give him another winnable fight, he'll get someone like Matt Brown. If they really want to challenge him, put him in there with Aaron Simpson.
DaMarques Johnson: He has lost two in a row and three of his last four, but Dana White clearly likes his balls-out style and he'll continue to get good fights. It's too bad that Josh Neer is already booked for a bout with Justin Edwards, because he'd be the perfect opponent for Johnson. Maybe Keith Wisniewski or even T.J. Waldburger would fit best.