UFC 160 results: Fights to make for the main card fighters

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 160 put the top of two divisions into clear perspective, and set up contenders in a couple of others. So where do these guys go from here?

Well, this should be easy. Sometimes I have to sit around and study things for a while to come up with valid opponents for combatants coming off fights. But after UFC 160? A fair amount of the guesswork has been eliminated by logical matchmaking and UFC president Dana White not being as passive as he usually is in a post-fight press conference. With that said though, that really only takes three of the 10 main card fighters out of the guesswork. There are still seven others that could end up going in a bevy of different directions, so let's get to it.

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos 3 - As Dana White told Ariel Helwani, this is a no-brainer. There is always the chance that an injury or some other weird scenario might play out that keeps these two apart for a little longer. That would help to build some more anticipation. But really, who else would be a credible challenge to either man right now? The winner of Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem might have a claim on a top spot, but they don't even fight until August anyway. It's clear that Cain/JDS 3 is where they'll go and if both came out of these bouts uninjured, I'd expect it around October.

Antonio Silva - There are rumblings that he could fight Hunt next, but that just seems like lazy matchmaking to me. Then again, the division is all sorts of weird right now. Josh Barnett is coming in and all indications are that he'll fight Frank Mir. Overeem's fighting Browne. Werdum/Nogueira is in two weeks. Nelson's contract is up in the air after UFC 161. So that really only leaves one good option in my eyes - Stefan Struve. It depends how long Struve is out with the broken jaw, but it's an interesting style matchup and would serve to re-elevate the winner back into pseudo-contendership.

Mark Hunt - Hunt has never talked about retirement and despite being 39 years old, I can't really see him hanging it up now. I think he'll continue on as long as he can, and the loser of the Overeem vs. Browne matchup might be who he gets next. Or if they want to bump him down a little more in the name of good fights, give him the winner of Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan at UFC 161.

Glover Teixeira - I find it odd that some people are quick to hold Glover back while some are saying he's an immediate contender. Even Dana White is guilty of the latter, going on about his 19-fight win streak. When do you ever hear Dana prop up a win streak when 3/4 of it didn't even happen in the UFC? He has four UFC wins, and all were impressive. He's quickly moving up, but he's not exactly in Jon Jones' sights yet. I think he should get the winner of the Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans bout at UFC 161 and take out a real contender before he's brought into the title discussion completely.

James Te Huna - I know it was a bad loss for him, but I still think that JTH is one of the division's better fighters. There are a ton of fun matchups out there for him in this division, but they have to decide if they want to give him a striker or a style challenge. I'd opt for the latter and give him Vinny Magalhaes next. But I would completely understand if he ended up fighting Cyrille Diabate or the loser of the Rafael Cavalcante vs. Thiago Silva fight.

T.J. Grant - White made it quite clear that Grant will fight Ben Henderson for the UFC lightweight title next. The only question is when. Will it headline UFC 165 in Canada? Will it headline the debut show on FS 1? The latter seems much more likely if they're both ready by then.

Gray Maynard - I wouldn't be at all surprised if Gray retired. He just turned 34 and only has 16 pro fights, but he's talked retirement before and he didn't seem like the same fighter that climbed through the division from 2007-11. If he does stick around he'd be a major challenge for anyone, but he has faced a lot of the top guys already. I'd say Evan Dunham might be the best matchup for him right now.

Donald Cerrone - Cowboy got back into the win column with an impressive performance, but he's out of title contention right now. I think they'll continue to give him crowd-pleasing fights going forward. Josh Thomson was mentioned at the press conference last night and Cerrone was all for it, but Dana said that Thomson was pretty close to his own title shot. Diego Sanchez might not really deserve a bout with Cerrone yet, but it might be the best one to book at this point.

K.J. Noons - Will he get released? He has a hefty contract for a lightweight, and has lost five out of six now. My guess is that his next bout will come for World Series of Fighting.

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