I went into UFC Fight Night: Cincinnati without much in the line of expectations, but the card turned out to be pretty good. It still lacked relevance, which is my main issue with a lot of UFN cards these days, but it's hard to argue with seven knockouts. A couple of them (hello Johnny Eduardo) had me yelling colorful metaphors at my TV, which is a rarity for me these days. All in all, it was a solid night of entertainment. The pacing still sucked though, and 13 fights is too many for a card. Just sayin'.
Anyway, let's get onto why we're here - a look at who the main card fighters should meet in their next bouts.
Matt Brown - I'm still not even close to sold on him being in line for a title shot. Sorry folks, but you don't go from beating the # 14 guy (who shouldn't even be ranked in the first place) to Hendricks. But the fight was a ton of fun, and Brown always brings the action so he does deserve someone in the top 5-6. I think the best fight possible would be against Hector Lombard - they match up well in a lot of areas and it would be interesting to see how Brown handles him. Even the winner of Jake Ellenberger vs. Robbie Lawler could make some sense for Brown.
Erick Silva - He showed a ton of heart, but Donald Cerrone had it right on twitter - how does someone with a three-minute gas tank get a main event fight? He was tired by the time Brown escaped the near submission, and the rest of the bout was just him fighting on fumes. It's amazing he lasted as long as he did, but let's be real - he's 4-4 in the UFC and shouldn't be fighting on this sort of stage right now. I'd personally love to see him fight Jordan Mein next, but it's probably more likely that he gets someone like T.J. Waldburger.
Constantinos Philippou - He's pretty well established as a guy that can beat talent outside the top 10, but has trouble breaking the glass wall into a position higher than that. He deserves another shot at a good opponent after that KO though. I'd certainly like to see him fight Yoel Romero next but they probably have bigger plans for him. Same with the winner of the Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi fight. So that might leave Thales Leites as the most viable candidate, even though the bout doesn't do much for Philippou.
Lorenz Larkin - That KO was a huge step backwards for Larkin and we most definitely won't be seeing him in co-main events any time soon. He's now 1-3 in the UFC, which is pretty crazy considering that he was supposed to fight Luke Rockhold for the Strikeforce middleweight title at some point. I think a step down in competition is warranted for his next bout, and a good candidate might be fellow UFN runner-up Rafael Natal.
Daron Cruickshank - Not a lot of people saw that coming. Koch was still highly-touted and that was undoubtedly the biggest win of Detroit Superstar's career. So what's next? I think they should stick to the striker vs. striker theme with him and give him a bout with the man, the myth - the greatest of all time. The Fireball Kid, Takanori Gomi. Why? Because I said so. And yes, I think Gomi can beat him.
Erik Koch - Yikes. That was definitely not what Koch returned to lightweight for and all his mojo is now gone. A good comeback bout might be against someone who also got knocked out in a big fight recently - Adriano Martins.
Neil Magny - Magny has improved a lot since his debut and turned in a really good performance against Means. I'd like to see him face the winner of the Yves Edwards vs. Piotr Hallmann bout at UFN: Albuquerque.
Soa Palelei - How many heavyweights can say they've won three in a row in the UFC? The answer is not many. So it's time for a step up in competition. Jared Rosholt is the most obvious guy for him to fight next.
Chris Cariaso - He has quietly put together three wins in a row to get himself back in contention. He probably wants to fight someone above him next, but undercard winner Kyoji Horiguchi would be a great next fight for Cariaso.