Sometimes these "fights to make" articles write themselves to a degree. A guy earns a title shot, or their next fight is pretty obvious. That sort of thing. But UFC on Fuel 9 offered none of that. The main event featured a late replacement against a guy fighting on one leg. There's at least a small possibility that the guy that lost the co-main event might get cut. And the only real bout of relevance on the card (Mike Easton vs. Brad Pickett) was in a division that has two champions right now and is all sorts of confusing. Nonetheless, I will do my best. But don't expect a whole of magic here.
Gegard Mousasi -That whole knee injury thing makes this pretty impossible to predict. A bout with Alexander Gustafsson is probably out because Gus will be moving on in his quest to get a title shot. Mousasi did win, but the win over Latifi means pretty much nothing in terms of his position in the promotion. I think if he's out for a long time (8-12 months, let's say), he'll come back against someone on the edge of the top 10 like Ryan Bader. If his knee isn't as bad as feared and he can get back to it quickly, perhaps he gets the winner of the Mauricio Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira bout.
Ilir Latifi - He's definitely getting another fight. It might not come until the next time the UFC goes to Europe, but at least he'll get it. Obviously it will be against someone he matches up better against though - maybe the loser of the Ovince St. Preux vs. Gian Villante bout.
Ross Pearson -I'm very curious to see how they book Pearson next. Will they try to build him up by setting him up with guys that can be finished? Or do they go back to putting him in there with strikers like his last run at lightweight before TUF Smashes? I'd love to see him face a guy like Jorge Masvidal next, but he's booked against Tim Means. My next best choice would be former WEC champ Jamie Varner.
Ryan Couture - Will he even get another UFC fight? I tend to think he will, but some believe he's as good as gone. A good measuring stick for his place in the UFC (should he get another chance) would be a bout with Yves Edwards.
Matt Mitrione - The UFC might decide to give him a more relevant fight than the one I'm suggesting here, but I really, really want to see Meathead fight the winner of Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan at UFC 161.
Philip De Fries - I tend to think he'll be fighting in Cage Warriors next. The quick knockouts are starting to catch up to him. If he does stay, he'll probably get a debuting fighter or something.
Brad Pickett -Bantamweight is so hard to figure out right now. The only guys ahead of Pickett in the 135-pound pecking order are the two champions (Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz), the next interim title challenger (Eddie Wineland), Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald, and maybe Scott Jorgensen. He's already lost to three of these guys, and Cruz is still out. So that really only leaves McDonald, or Faber if he beats Jorgensen at the TUF 17 Finale. Faber seems like the more likely option since that bout could headline or co-main a smaller card.
Mike Easton - The loss was clearly a setback, but it's not the end of the world in a shallow division. It was his second in a row though, so he's not going to get another elite opponent. Bryan Caraway seems like a good bounce-back fight for him.