UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Dollaway was centered around two top Brazilian fighters trying to get back on the winning track after losing in championship bouts. Lyoto Machida and Renan Barao both delivered stoppage wins over a pair of heavy underdogs in C.B. Dollaway and Mitch Gagnon, respectively. The rest of the main card featured some fun performances and plenty of action in what was the UFC's final fight card of 2014.
For the final time this year, we forecast the futures of main carders from the latest UFC event. This piece will only focus on the winners from last night's show:
Lyoto Machida. I like watching Machida destroy clearly overmatched opposition, but I like seeing him against legitimate challenges even more. Luke Rockhold is the fight to make for Machida, and it's unquestionably the best non-title matchup in the middleweight division. I'm salivating at the thought of the body kick exchanges.
Renan Barao. That was an effective performance by Barao but not nearly as dominating as you'd think he would be against a fringe top 10 talent in Mitch Gagnon. He looked more hittable in this fight than he ever did against anyone not named Dillashaw, and was arguably tied on the scorecards after 2 rounds before Gagnon gassed and Barao took advantage with an easy arm-triangle choke. Bantamweight isn't a deep division and he's beaten most of the top guys already, but he hasn't fought Raphael Assuncao, and that should be the fight to determine the next title challenger.
Patrick Cummins. The downside to the UFC's ridiculous hyperbolic promotion was that Cummins was never a legitimate threat to beat Daniel Cormier, but they made it seem like he was. Instead, he got destroyed and laughed off. But since then, he's won 3 in a row and turned in a strong performance each time out. The light heavyweight division needs anything it can get, and I think he'll get Jan Blachowicz next.
Rashid Magomedov. I was about to bemoan the lack of true finishing power that Magomedov has, but he listened to Brian Stann and finished off Elias Silverio right before the final horn sounded. He has fantastic combinations and hard body kicks. His offensive game is among the best in the lightweight division, and I want to see him tested against Daron Cruickshank.
Erick Silva. You can argue Silva's prospects of being a contender all day long, but you have to concede that he's possibly the most exciting fighter in the UFC, even to his own detriment. I don't want him matched up against any ranked opposition for at least 3 fights because he has consistently shown he cannot beat the upper tier of welterweights. He needs to be booked in squash matches (like this Rhodes fight) or fighters who are on the outer edges of the top 15 but still can pose a threat to beat Silva. I'd love to see him square off with Hyun Gyu Lim.
Daniel Sarafian. It was a win under bizarre circumstances, but a win nonetheless for Sarafian, and it potentially saved his spot in the UFC. There's really not much you can gather from a fight where he and Antonio dos Santos slugged it out with reckless abandon, so uh.... Elias Theodorou as his next opponent?