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UFC Fight Night 35 post-fight results: Fights to make for main card fighters

With another UFC event on the books it's time to take the lay of the land and see what might be next for the main card fighters from UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Philippou.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

This is going to be a bit of a tough one. The UFC divisions at the moment are pretty heavily booked, meaning that options for fighters who want a quick turnaround are going to be fairly limited. If fighters are willing to wait there are plenty of good fights on the horizon that will create strong contenders, but the here and now is a bit bereft. So, with that in mind, I'll try and give a couple of options for everyone depending on their time frame.

Obviously the big narrative here is what to do with the top of the middleweight division. Luke Rockhold got a big win, as did Brad Tavares, putting them both in the hunt for top ten fights. Dillashaw and Moraga kept themselves in title conversations (although Moraga asked more questions than he answered) and Cole Miller and Yoel Romero continued to show that they will be problematic for anyone. So, let's pick some fights.

Luke Rockhold - Rockhold is, by far, the toughest fighter to match up on this card. All his potential opponents are booked. The real, sensible fight for him is with Michael Bisping if (once) he beats Tim Kennedy. Getting one of them a title shot would be good for the UFC and a top contenders bout between them would make for good atmosphere and provide the reigning champ with either a serious grudge match (in the case of Belfort) or with an opponent who can hype a fight pretty well and get people excited. With Mousasi, Machida, Carmont, and Souza booked the only other option I can think of would be a bit crazy, but it'd be fun to see Rockhold bounce up and take a catchweight or show fight at Light Heavyweight. The division is competitively dead at the moment and Rockhold is huge at 185. Watching him fight Shogun or Little Nog would be a lot of fun.

Costa(s) Philippou - Unlike Rockhold, Philippou, in a loss, has no lack of high level Middleweights to take on right now. There are a bunch of guys in a similar position to him, coming off a loss, who would benefit from a 185 gatekeeper showdown. The best fight I can see would be Mark Munoz. Both he and Philippou are at something of a crossroads and have a lot to prove. They also both have shown big holes in the other man's strength. Can Mark Munoz stay out of danger against a decent boxer like Philippou? Can Philippou stay off his back against a wrestler like Munoz? The winner of that fight would find themselves with a much needed boost of relevance as well. Alternatively Philippou could fight Alan Belcher if/when he returns to 185.

Brad Tavares - Once again, there aren't a lot of high end winners available for a guy in Tavares' position. He's fought a lot of low end talent in his 7-1 UFC run and he needs to keep taking steps up the ladder. Lorenz Larkin was a big win, but it will be pretty meaningless if his next fight is against someone like Caio Magalhaes. I'd like to see him take on the winner of Souza vs. Carmont, but if he needs another fight quick then a bout with Yoel Romero would be a hell of a lot of fun and a big action fight the UFC could sell on the main card.

Lorenz Larkin - Larkin has got to start showing some consistency in his career. Right when he seems poised for a big breakout performance he drops the ball. His loss to Carmont was highly controversial, but he got flat out beat by Tavares. Right now I'd like to see him go up against another top 15-20 fighter in bad need of a turnaround in Tim Boetsch. It'd be an interesting style clash as Boetsch has often shown that he can out muscle guys who just want to strike. And if Larkin can pull the trigger more often and keep moving he could get the kind of win that would keep him in the conversation as a top 10-15 fighter. If Boetsch isn't available then I'd also love to see him meet James Te Huna in Te Huna's first middleweight fight.

T.J. Dillashaw - Much like middleweight, bantamweight is pretty much booked at the moment. There are a couple fights that still make sense for Dillashaw off that stellar performance, however. The most sensible, to my eyes, would be a bout against Takeya Mizugaki. Mizugaki has quietly hit the peak of his career in the UFC, no longer just a scrappy mid-carder, he seems to have really found a fluidity and power that wasn't present early in his WEC days. He's also the kind of guy who isn't quite lined up for a title shot. If he beats Dillashaw then, suddenly, he'll be in the hunt, if Dillashaw beats him it will be a solid name on his way to his own shot at the belt. If that fight can't happen, then I'd like to see him face Iuri Alcantara if (when) Alcantara beat Wilson Reis.

Mike Easton - I'll admit, upfront, that I'm not overly invested in who Mike Easton fights at this point. Not for any personal reasons, just that it feels like I've seen his ceiling too many times now. However, putting that aside, a fight against George Roop or Nam Phan would be a lot of fun and makes a lot of sense right now.

Yoel Romero - As previously stated, I wouldn't mind seeing Yoel Romero take on Brad Tavares, but Romero could also get another couple fights against mid-dvision guys that would be high action and fun. Honestly I'd like to see him fight Uriah Hall, as his similar style and unfriendly in-cage demeanor should keep Hall on task and provide for a lot of opportunities for ultra violence.

Derek Brunson - Brunson's going to be on the sideline for a while with a broken jaw, but when he comes back a fight against Andrew Craig or Dylan Andrews would make for a good bounce-back and give one of those fighters a chance to start rebuilding.

John Moraga - Lets face it, Moraga didn't exactly deserve that win. He may not have deserved to lose either, but he didn't deserve to win. That said, he shouldn't be getting a step up in competition right now. He has a lot to prove in a division filled with power grapplers. I'm not sure that he has the ground game or the scrambling to thrive at flyweight long term. As such I'd recommend a bout against the winner of Scott Jorgensen vs. Jussier da Silva, both of whom have underperformed lately but offer a lot of danger to a fighter like Moraga. If he needs a bout right now Justin Scoggins is the only available fighter, but that doesn't make much sense.

Dustin Ortiz - I feel for Ortiz, but, let's face it, he's a pretty one dimensional talent at the moment. He had plenty of opportunities to do some real damage to Moraga and didn't get a whole lot done. He controlled the majority of that fight, but his lack of damage meant that the judges weren't all that interested. Right now a bout against Tim Elliott makes sense, as they both have shown a tendency toward similar flaws, but have good wrestling and strong gas tanks. It should make for a fun, scramble filled 15 minutes.

Cole Miller - Man, this card is long, I need a break or something... okay... back to task. Cole Miller put a highlight beating on Sam Sicilia, one that all but his most ardent fans didn't really see coming. He's capable of winning almost every fight he's in, but rarely has he looked so thoroughly dominant. Of course that means that it's time to test that skill and see if it holds up from one fight to the next. Dustin Poirier is currently opponentless and the line of contenders at 145 is long. That would make for a hell of a fun fight for both men. His plan of fighting Donald Cerrone makes no sense, so I'm dismissing it.

Sam Sicilia - Damnit Sam, I had faith that you'd turned the corner into a little wrecking machine. Unfortunately, even if that's true, it's a wrecking machine without a lot of gears in the gearbox. Miller exposed that Sicilia, for all his power, needs a lot of polish. Hacran Dias has been totally unable to keep himself healthy for more than one fight a year, but if he can stitch himself together I'd like to see Sicilia take him on. Otherwise a bout against Robert Whiteford would be a fun brawl.

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