UFC 175 featured a main event which matched the epic five round insta-classics between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler and Jon Jones and Alexander Gustaffson we've been privileged to see in the last year. Chris Weidman solidified his position as the best 185lber in the World and probably one of the best all-round fighters in MMA pound-for-pound.
The rest of the card was a mixed bag, with many of the fights having little in the way long term implications nor building excitement for the combatants next bouts. Regardless, I will try to take a look ahead as to what we can expect to see next time out for them.
Chris Weidman - It's tricky to try and line up Weidman's next title challenger. Whilst any fan would be crazy not to want to see Weidman and Lyoto Machida go at it again after last nights tremendous five round battle, I tend to sit on the side of not giving a challenger an instant rematch unless I feel he has a reason to be aggrieved with the decision. Machida was superb, but only the fourth was a clear round for him, with the fifth was debatable, with Machida shading the early part, losing most of the round, then exploding late and having Weidman seemingly badly hurt. So the obvious choice would be Vitor Belfort getting the next crack at Weidman, pending approval from the NSAC. Weidman showed a stout chin in absorbing Machida's quick and well-timed shots, and despite the controversy permanently surrounding Belfort this is a matchup that would give any fan goosebumps come fight night.
Lyoto Machida - As aforementioned, I'm personally not in favour of seeing an instant rematch for the title between Weidman and Machida, but there's also absolutely no doubt in my mind that Machida needs to be matched like a winner. Bloodied up and physically exerted in a grueling five-round war will likely see Machida get a few months rest. Another guy on the sidelines at the moment but anticipating a fight with top five opposition when he gets back is Luke Rockhold, and with his height, size, kicking game as well as crafty Jiu-Jitsu, he'd make for a highly intriguing main event on a fight night card, be it in Brazil or in the States. The winner of that one would be in line for a crack at the title as well. Failing that, they tried to book Machida versus Tim Kennedy before, although that isn't quite as appealing from a stylistic standpoint nor in terms of relevancy at the top of the division.
Ronda Rousey - This is without a doubt the hardest pick to make. Seeing as though the most interesting stylistic matchups for Rousey currently reside outside of the promotion (Holly Holm, Cristiane Justino) there is very little the woman's bantamweight division has to offer her. Cat Zingano earned a title shot by coming from behind and pummeling Miesha Tate, but what with her personal woes and injury problems it'd be a tough ask to bring her back and throw her straight into a title fight with Rousey. So the best option for me, purely on the basis the UFC can attempt to build a storyline off of it, is Bethe Correia. With a win over Jessamyn Duke, and scheduled to face off with Shayna Baszler at UFC 176, Correia has already expressed a desire to work her way to Rousey by beating her teammates. Stylistically she isn't an interest opponent for the dominant champ', but should she beat Bazler she will have beaten two of the 'Four Horsewomen' and will sport a perfect 9-0 record. With a roster short on immediate options, it may well be the best choice despite it looking yet another squash match on paper.
Alexis Davis - No one expected Davis to have much for Rousey, but that was still a devastating defeat for her. I think she'd be a perfect warm-up fight for Cat Zingano on her return, but thinking for a second about Davis' career, perhaps the best choice would be the loser of the recently announced bout between former title challenger Sara McMann and Invicta FC champion Lauren Murphy, which has been booked for UFC Fight Night 47 in Maine.
Matt Mitrione - A disappointing night for Mitrione, as his bout with Stefan Struve was called off at the last minute due to a health scare for the lanky Dutchman. Mitrione should expect a quick turnaround, and as veteran submission specialist Oleksiy Oliynyk came out of his UFC debut with a swift victory, Mitrione should get the chance to break the Ukranian's ten fight winning streak.
Uriah Hall - Another tepid display from the previously terrifying TUF finalist, but this time it was reasonable, as Hall had a horrific broken toe which he fought through from the first round onwards. Still, it's hard not to see him as someone who has all the tools to put a hurting on everyone outside the elite of the division but can't even pull the trigger against fringe talent. Another underwhelming TUF product is TUF: Brazil season one winner Cezar 'Mutante' Ferreira. Physically imposing with a stifling top game, 'Mutante' nevertheless leaves openings and has shown he can be hurt and stopped. Hall would have a chance to make a statement here, and Ferreira would have a chance to put a final nail in the coffin of Hall as a prospect to be excited about.
Russell Doane - Whilst the Hawaiian arguably deserved to beat Marcus Brimage, it's the dreadful 3-27 card that will stick in most people's minds after the event. What shouldn't be overlooked is that Doane showed a slick ground game, explosive takedowns, and a lot of grit to come through Brimage's cracking leg kicks. Rob Font made an explosive debut in both the UFC and the 135lb division by wasting George Roop in the first round, and looks a good fit for Doane's next opponent.
Urijah Faber - Faber has lost a step, but still looked clinical in dispatching Alex Caceres in the third round in the headlining bout of the prelims. Faber fuelled the fire of a possible matchup with the (probably shot) Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto post-fight on Fox Sports 1. With Yamamoto slated to fight on the September Japan card without an opponent, it looks likely that fight will be made. It seems a nonsensical piece of matchmaking, as Faber will gain nothing from it, and the Japanese fans will see one of their heroes get beaten easily. That fight was craved for half a decade ago, but has lost all its luster now. My choice for Faber would be Frankie Edgar at 140lbs should he beat BJ Penn at the TUF Finale tonight. Faber was the original choice to coach against Edgar on this season of TUF, but Dana White said he doesn't like catch weight fights too much. Saying that, UFC top brass had no worries booking Rich Franklin in a series of 195lb catch weight bouts, and both Faber, and to a lesser extent Edgar, are in exactly the same position Franklin was in a few years back; clearly inferior to the current champions but easily capable of knocking off other possible title contenders. If the catch weight idea is an unwelcome one, then as a former 145lb WEC champ Faber should have no problem moving back up briefly for a fight with a small featherweight in Edgar.
Alex Caceres - 'Bruce Leroy' gave a good account of himself tonight, just falling short of going the distance with 'The California Kid' which is an achievement in itself given Faber's canny knack of snatching submissions. Caceres still has time to develop, and has progressed a huge amount since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. The fight I want to see as soon as possible is Caceres versus Marcus Brimage. Both former TUF contestants who have improved leaps and bounds following the show, they look to have the potential of hitting the top ten with the right development, and both show athleticism and a good grasp of all facets of MMA.