While UFC Fight Night 29 wasn't a total home run for the promotion, it did open up some interesting scenarios in the welterweight division. A man who many saw as a future title challenger was derailed, as was a promising prospect. The light heavyweight division didn't fare as well with two pretty dreadful fights. But at least there's a new contender in the floundering bantamweight division. Anyway, let's see who each UFN 29 main card fighter might meet in his next bout.
Jake Shields - It's tough to see where they go with him. He's had his title shot and they're not going to want to put him in that situation again. I'm sure he'd like a rematch with Jake Ellenberger, but that doesn't seem like the greatest matchmaking right now. I think the best idea would be to have him fight the winner of the Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown fight at UFC on Fox 9. So, Carlos Condit. He holds a win over Condit way back in 2006 and it'd be another chance to see if Condit can overcome a good wrestler.
Demian Maia - Give him the loser of the Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler bout at UFC 167. Rory's not in the title picture for now but it'd be a good challenge if he did drop the fight to Lawler. And if Robbie loses, it's a guy for Demian to submit and start climbing the ladder again.
Dong Hyun Kim - Is Tarec Saffiedine ever going to fight in the UFC? Even though time has eroded his stature, he was the last Strikeforce welterweight champion. He's still teetering on the top 10, as is Kim with his win over Silva. It seems pretty simple - the winner is a top-10 welterweight. The loser isn't.
Erick Silva - I don't know if the UFC is interested in re-building him after he was straight KO'd like that. At 3-3 in the UFC, he's been a bit of a bust so far as a top prospect (despite his obvious skill level). But let's face it, Silva's not even top 20 right now and he should get an opponent that reflects that. I'm hoping they'll continue to use him in potentially exciting fights, and about the best one I can think of would be against Jordan Mein. Think of the chances of violence in that bout.
Thiago Silva - If he's not on the next season of The Biggest Loser, he's probably going to get a decent opponent despite a horrible fight. There are two possibilities in my eyes - one is a lower-ranked opponent like Hamill was. That would probably be the winner of the Ryan Jimmo vs. Jimi Manuwa fight at UFC Fight Night 30. The other would be a more high-profile fight - the winner of the Mauricio Rua vs. James Te Huna fight at UFC Fight Night 33. Fans would lean towards the latter, but I think the UFC would lean towards the former.
Matt Hamill - Hopefully there is no next bout. While Hamill looked much improved in the first round, if your cardio is so bad that you're barely on your feet after 15 minutes, it's probably time to retire. Again. Even if an injury caused it, it just doesn't seem worth it anymore for Hamill.
Fabio Maldonado - He asked for James Te Huna or Chael Sonnen? I never use internet shorthand in my posts, but LOL. He barely beat Beltran and he's 3-3 in the UFC overall. A bout with JTH would be exciting, but it needs to be earned. A more likely (and potentially interesting) bout would be against a guy like Ovince St. Preux, who is 2-0 in the UFC and coming off a knockout win.
Joey Beltran - I honestly think he will be released despite the close fight (that I thought he won). He's 0-2 with one No Contest at LHW in the UFC, and his bout with Maldonado was pretty sloppy. If he somehow does get another fight, it'd probably be against a debuting fighter or someone like Gian Villante or Cody Donovan.
Rousimar Palhares - While he might get suspended, I doubt it will be for a long period of time. That means it's unlikely to affect the timing of his next bout. Despite all the drama surrounding the win, he just beat a top-20 (at least) welterweight in 31 seconds. If Thiago Alves is coming back this decade, that'd be an interesting fight. One that's potentially even more interesting would be against grappling ace Gunnar Nelson, but I'm not sure they'd want to put a bright prospect in the cage with Toquinho.
Mike Pierce - This one's pretty simple in my eyes - assuming he's not out for a while with an injury, Pierce should face the loser of the Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story fight at UFC 167. Pierce and Story hate each other so there's instant heat there. And Ebersole is the kind of wily veteran that could give Pierce an entertaining fight.
Raphael Assuncao - With so few legit and new challengers at bantamweight, Assuncao is right in the mix with the win. If Michael McDonald beats Urijah Faber at UFC on Fox 9, McDonald/Assuncao makes a lot of sense. But if Faber wins, I don't think many people want to see him rematch Assuncao. So if that's the case, he could meet Brad Pickett or Eddie Wineland.
T.J. Dillashaw - He came very close to winning, and I actually thought he deserved the W. I don't think the setback will hurt his standing in the division too much, but it does kill his title hopes for a while. A bout with Mike Easton next could make some sense, but a better option might be Yuri Alcantara.