With three cards in eight days, I really could have held off until next Thursday and wrote a huge Fights to Make post. But where's the fun in that? Besides the fact that the results of the next two cards won't really affect matchmaking coming out of this event, who wants to read a 5000 word opus pre-booking the next nine UFC events? It's better to just break it down event-by-event, so that's what I'm going to do.
UFC Fight Night 27 delivered fairly predictable results outside of a couple of fights, but those results opened up a bevy of matchmaking opportunities. Without further ado, let's take a look at each main card fighter and see who they should meet next.
Carlos Condit - He asked for a rematch with Johny Hendricks, but I don't see that happening. Rory MacDonald is tied up fighting Robbie Lawler (which makes little sense to me). Some wanted Matt Brown to face Condit next, but a) I think that's ridiculous; and b) my guess is that Brown is fighting Tarec Saffiedine next. So who does that leave for Condit? My guess would be the winner of the Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields in October. Maia might get fast-tracked to a title shot with a dominant win, but we'll have to see.
Martin Kampmann - I still feel like Kampmann vs. Nick Diaz would be a great fight. But Nick seems to have some issues that would preclude him from participating. So the next best option is probably either the loser of the MacDonald/Lawler fight, or the loser of the Maia/Shields fight.
Rafael dos Anjos - The win was massive for RDA, and he should get a top-five opponent next. T.J. Grant sounds like an excellent opponent, but he might just get re-inserted into the title picture. I'd personally really like to see him fight Josh Thomson next.
Donald Cerrone - Cowboy is in danger of falling out of the top 10 with another loss, and I don't think we're going to see him challenging for the lightweight title anytime soon. They can choose to book him in 3 ways - more relevant fights against top 10 guys; build him back up with a squash match; or book him against another action fighter in the middle. Personally, I'd like to see them go with the last option and have Cerrone fight Evan Dunham next.
Kelvin Gastelum - His first win at welterweight came in emphatic fashion, and he's got plenty of time to grow. I don't think they'll push him too fast and it's possible that they go back to the Paulo Thiago fight that was originally booked for this card. If not, another solid but not terribly dangerous guy should probably be next. I hate using him here because he's one of my favorite fighters (Canada!), but Sean Pierson would be a really good candidate.
Brian Melancon - He stepped in on late notice and dropped a fight to a top-flight prospect. The loss was bad, but he'll get another chance. It seems pretty clear that he should be in there with someone that will engage him on the feet though. If Bobby Voelker isn't released, that's a good fight. The loser of the Stephen Thompson vs. Chris Clements fight at UFC 165 might be a good candidate.
Court McGee - I thought McGee looked a lot better here than he did in his WW debut against Josh Neer despite facing better competition. I'd honestly like to see him fight Gastelum at some point, but now is not the time for that. The winner of the Adlan Amagov vs. T.J. Waldburger fight at UFC 166 would be a good candidate for McGee's next fight. Or Gunnar Nelson. That'd be an interesting fight. Pressure vs. finesse.
Robert Whittaker - I thought Whittaker fought well despite losing. His style is definitely odd, but it's also effective. I think the perfect next fight for him would be against TUF Brazil 2 runner-up William Macario. Both are young, like to strike, and have something to prove.
Takeya Mizugaki - Mizugaki has won three in a row! That never happens! Seriously, he's right on the edge of the top 10 at bantamweight in my eyes, and there are still a ton of quality fights out there for him despite 12 fights in the UFC/WEC. It'd make sense to see Mizu fight the winner of the T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao bout at UFC Fight Night 29.
Erik Perez - A loss is a loss, but there's still plenty of upside for the young Mexican fighter. Johnny Bedford recently backed out of a fight and I have no idea how healthy he is, but he sounds like a solid next opponent for Perez. If they're willing to match up a loser vs. a winner (assuming this guy beats Wilson Reis), Hugo Viana would be an awesome opponent for Goyito next. And they'd both be 3-1 in the UFC.
Brad Tavares - He's now 6-1 in the UFC, but you'd never realize that by the way the promotion pushes him. Sure he's not getting finishes, but at least he's winning. It's tough to see where they go with him next though, because they don't seem to want him fighting against potential contenders. If Andrew Craig beats Luke Barnatt at UFC Fight Night 30, he'd make some sense as a next opponent. If they really want to see if Tavares will sink or swim against tough competition though, put him in there against the winner of the Ronny Markes vs. Yoel Romero fight at UFC Fight Night 31.
Bubba McDaniel - TUF fighter now at 1-1 in the UFC. I can't see him getting anything resembling a big fight. Maybe Buddy Roberts or something?