UFC 159 is in the books, and quite frankly it was not one of the UFC's better shows. If last week's UFC on Fox 7 was enthralling from start to finish, UFC 159 consisted of fouls interspersed with entertainment. The exciting moments were buried underneath an avalanche of both eye pokes and Joe Rogan ranting about how a new style of gloves will magically reduce the number of eye pokes we see. The only underdog to win on the main card was Pat Healy over Jim Miller in what turned out to be the only competitive back-and-forth fight on the PPV. With Tim Burke out of action until tomorrow I will once again take control of the fantasy matchmaking chair and see what's next for each main card fighter:
Jon Jones. "Bones" picked a hell of a time to earn his first round 1 stoppage in nearly three years. Otherwise he would've lost by injury TKO and Chael Sonnen would've been champion in the most absurd way possible. All this joke of a fight told us is that Jon Jones is pretty good at fighting and that Chael Sonnen was a complete journeyman at 205 for a reason. The broken toe somewhat complicates the timing of his next fight, but if the UFC says a rematch with Lyoto Machida is next for him, then so be it.
Chael Sonnen. Last night went exactly as planned. Chael got in Jones' face, tried to aggressively fight from close range, and he got his ass kicked. It's not really a knock on Chael at all, it's just that the disparity between him and Jones is as wide as Roy Nelson's belly. He's had 4 official title fights under the Zuffa banner and has been finished in all of them. It's highly unlikely he gets another crack at the 185 or 205 belt, so if he is considering retirement then I wish him all the best as an analyst and as a coach. This is also a roundabout way of saying I have no idea what Chael's going to do next thus I have no fights immediately lined up in my head for him to take.
Michael Bisping. Subtracting that eye poke, Bisping was quite clearly going to win a unanimous decision through his crisp boxing. It's probably the best part of his game, and Belcher had no answer for it. The tough part with Bisping is that he's historically come up short against top 5 middleweights (and Wanderlei Silva), so it would take some serious detouring for the UFC to grant Bisping a title shot. This fight could be pretty ugly, but I say let him face Yushin Okami next. If he can beat Okami then I'd actually have zero issue with him getting a title fight, regardless of what I think of his chances are against either Anderson Silva or Chris Weidman.
Alan Belcher. I hope Belcher's eye injury is not too serious to the point where it could be career ending, because that poke was (for me) worse to look at than Jones' busted big toe. Unfortunately for Alan it's painstakingly obvious that he doesn't have what it takes to hang with the top 185ers, and he probably will be booked as such. He's very entertaining to watch when he's at his best, but his "best" isn't enough to be considered a title challenger. I believe the best suitable matchup for him is Nick Ring.
Roy Nelson. It's incredible how predictable Roy is as a striker, and yet so many heavyweights are unable to stop it. Nelson has big power in his right hand, and it was pretty obvious that if he landed on Cheick he was going to go out. That said, Nelson isn't a legitimate contender and I don't even think it's arguable. He's already lost badly to Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum, and he'd get plastered by Cain Velasquez. Apparently he'll get to fight other Daniel Cormier or Mark Hunt next. Devoid of context, I'd love to see him fight Hunt, but if Hunt beats JDS then he's earned a title shot. Let Cormier fight Nelson next and it A.) Keeps Cormier busy and B.) Gives Nelson his step up in competition, even though he'd likely lose.
Cheick Kongo. I'm really not interested in watching another Cheick Kongo fight. Why would you leave your left hand down and circle towards Roy's power hand? Give him Stefan Struve on an international show.
Phil Davis. If we want to talk about wasted time, how about Phil Davis' past year? Two fights with Wagner Prado -- the first fight was made because the legendary Chad Griggs was injured -- and Vinny Magalhaes? That doesn't sound like an ideal schedule for a supposed top 10 LHW. This was not an exciting fight and it pretty much never was going to be one if Vinny couldn't get Phil into a grappling match. Davis showed effective striking and comfortably took a decision win. Hopefully Joe Silva actually gives him a step up in competition for his next fight. I suggest Ryan Bader next.
Vinny Magalhaes. Has Vinny improved as a fighter? I'd say so, but not to the point where he can threaten anyone in the top 10. His striking defense was "sub-par" to put it kindly, and he was doomed the moment he couldn't get Davis into a BJJ match. For the sake of "availability" in a thin division, give him Brandon Vera. This isn't really a horrendous mismatch either.
Pat Healy. First off, Pat Healy is 29? That doesn't feel right. Moving on, Healy became the latest Strikeforce fighter to knock off an established UFC talent, and he took home $130,000 in bonuses. Healy is such a tough outing for anyone in the division, and to me he's earned another fight against top 10 opposition. How about the winner of Rafael dos Anjos/Evan Dunham?
Jim Miller. I thought Jim looked solid in round 1, but after that he was beaten up pretty badly. It just about confirms he's not going to be competing at the elite level again. The problem with Jim Miller is that when he loses, he loses badly. Gray Maynard, Ben Henderson, Nate Diaz, and Healy all busted him up and either won on points or finished him. He is still a very viable gatekeeper and a tough SOB with well-rounded skills, so it's not like he's on a precipitous fall towards the pink slip. I think they'll match him up against Takanori Gomi next.