UFC on Fox 7 is in the books, and other than the horrendous and unacceptable decision to give Francis Carmont the win over Lorenz Larkin, the card was fantastic from top to bottom. Since Tim Burke is away on vacation, I will play the role of Tim Burke playing Joe Silva/Sean Shelby and do some fantasy matchmaking for each main card fighter:
Ben Henderson. Well ... Dana White did the work for me. I personally have been begging to see him rematch Anthony Pettis, but that's not happening any time soon. I'm also for a rematch with Gilbert Melendez given how close Saturday's fight was. Alas, he gets the winner of Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant, which is still a pretty damn good offering for fight fans.
Gilbert Melendez. That was a very tough loss for Melendez, and like I said above, I'd love for him to get an immediate rematch. Remember that Melendez has avenged his other two defeats to Josh Thomson and Mitsuhiro Ishida, so he's beaten everyone he's faced. Melendez clearly proved he is a top 5 caliber lightweight in the UFC, and I'm sure he'll earn another title shot very soon. I think Melendez should fight the loser of Maynard/Grant.
Daniel Cormier. He's a fantastic addition to the heavyweight division, but unfortunately his prospects of fighting for the title look bleak for as long as his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez keeps the belt. There are plenty of compelling matchups for him at HW right now, and one that intrigues me the most would be Fabricio Werdum. Of course, Werdum has to get past Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira next June.
Frank Mir. I think it's pretty clear that Frank Mir has reached a point in his career where he's still a top 10 caliber heavyweight but has little to no chance of being a threat to the elite of the division. There's almost no upside in pushing Mir back into the title picture, so why not have him face another grappler in Gabriel Gonzaga?
Josh Thomson. Both Thomson and Robbie Lawler went 8+ years without a UFC fight, and both returned with stunning knockout wins over established contenders Nate Diaz and Josh Koscheck respectively. Not too shabby. Thomson looked outstanding, and it's only fitting that he returned to the big leagues the same way he left it - with a head kick knockout. He's now a clear contender at 155 lbs, and if Donald Cerrone beats K.J. Noons as expected, I'd love to see a Cerrone/Thomson clash.
Nate Diaz. That was a huge blow to his chances of ever fighting again for a UFC title. And frankly speaking, he's not going to be sniffing the top 10 of welterweight. But if he wants to go to 170, then he needs to fight someone who is more than willing to box with him and not factor as a takedown threat. Even though he's coming off a controversial win, I'd like Nate to fight Patrick Cote.
Matt Brown. I really cannot believe I'm writing this. Matt Brown just continues to prove the "experts" wrong (including me ... although I'm hardly an expert). He was losing to some fairly middling opposition just two years ago, and now he's taken out Mike Swick and Jordan Mein, easily the two best wins of his UFC career. Brown has elevated himself from low-end gatekeeper to mid-tier gatekeeper. If there's a perfect fight for him to possibly crack the top 10, it's against Martin Kampmann. Yes, Kampmann lost his last fight and nearly skidded onto the freeway after Johny Hendricks clocked him, but he's another upgrade in opponent for Matt. Kampmann would be the best technical striker Brown has faced; he has very good takedown defense and underrated submissions, but he has huge problems with fighters who are aggressive and can force him to back himself up against the cage, which Brown could conceivably accomplish.
Jordan Mein. For the 2nd fight in a row Mein found himself in serious trouble within 3 minutes of the opening round, but this time his comeback efforts were thwarted. He showed absolutely zero regard for defending anything Matt threw, and that's not encouraging for someone with as many fights as him. This is grounds for a significant step down in competition, so probably another ex-Strikeforce fighter like Quinn Mulhern.
PRELIM BONUS #1: Jorge Masvidal. He wasn't overly impressive against Tim Means, but he got the job done and is certainly more talent for an already talent rich division. Without hesitation, put him up against Ross Pearson. And put it on a Fox Sports 1 main card.
PRELIM BONUS #2: Chad Mendes. Knocking out Cody McKenzie and Yaotin Meza really only told us that he's vastly superior to them and still a top featherweight. Blasting Darren Elkins in less than 70 seconds? That's worthy of another title shot. Now, UFC 162 is going to drastically change the 145 lbs top 10, so it's likely that his next opponent will come from that card. In my opinion, he should fight Frankie Edgar next (should Edgar beat Charles Oliveira), with the winner next in line for a title shot behind the Ricardo Lamas/Chan Sung Jung victor.