Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit put on an instant classic at UFC 154. Their fight, though largely dominated by GSP, saw both men bloodied and bruised at the end of 25 minutes. At the press conference, GSP showed up with an ice bag for his face, which was mostly bruised from his bout. In his reign as welterweight champion, this was the most damage GSP had taken since his upset loss to Matt Serra at UFC 69. But he came out victorious, looking as dominate (and healthy) as ever.
Meanwhile, in the co-main event, Johny Hendricks laid out Martin Kampmann with his signature left hand, which is quickly becoming the most feared punch in MMA outside of Dan Henderson’s H-Bomb. His knockout of Kampmann was almost identical to his 12-second victory over perennial contender Jon Fitch at UFC 141. At this time, Hendricks is the number one contender – but it appears that the UFC will look to book the Anderson Silva – St. Pierre super fight instead of giving Hendricks his shot at the title. But in my opinion, I think St. Pierre – Hendricks is the bout to book.
Hendricks said post fight that GSP had never fought anyone like him – and I believe that to be true. Hendricks, a two-time national champion wrestler in college, has the best credentials of anyone GSP has faced in terms of wrestling. Also, as mentioned above, he has one shot knockout power that few, if any, at welterweight can match. I’m sure I am in the minority, but I feel GSP-Hendricks is the way to go at this moment. If Hendricks stuffs GSP’s takedows, we could be in for a real barnburner on the feet. Let Silva fight Michael Bisping (if he beats Vitor Belfort) or the winner of Chris Weidman – Tim Plus, if GSP stays at 170 for the foreseeable future, we may get to see his grudge match against a certain Stockon bad boy who is set to come off of suspension in February.
Here are five other bouts to book in the aftermath of UFC 154.
Matt Riddle versus Dan Hardy
Riddle cut amazing promo for a bout with Hardy after UFC 149 and again after UFC 154. He’s an exciting fighter who seems to be improving every fight out, and I think he has earned a step up in competition. A bout with the resurgent Hardy, who is coming off a dominant decision win over Amir Sadollah, makes too much not sense to book at this point. I think it would it would be a great way to open the UFC on Fox 6 card in January or even as opening fight on a major PPV card. I can’t see this fight being anything other than exciting.
Carlos Condit versus Martin Kampmann
Both men lost at UFC 154, albeit in different ways. Condit proved that he was a top-flight welterweight in his loss to St. Pierre, and almost finished the champ in round three while Kampmann got separated from his senses . Both men, however, are now back in the pack of a very crowded welterweight division, and will need a big win if they want to make a another run at the top. These two should be booked for a rematch sometime in 2013, with the winner in prime position to get back in the title picture at 170. If not this bout, a match up with the aforementioned Nick Diaz would make a lot of sense for either Condit or Kampmann.
Ivan Menjivar versus TJ Dillashaw
Menjivar took UFC rookie Azamat Gashimov’s arm home with him on the prelims of UFC 154, and he set himself up for some fun bouts at 135. I have my doubts about Menjivar as serious contender at bantamweight, but at the very least, he will provide stern tests for young fighters. That is where is Dillashaw comes in. The 26-year old Team Alpha Male product is currently injured, but when he is healthy, a bout between these two would give the victor a chance to get a Top 10 opponent in a bantamweight division currently in flux. The battle between Dillashaw’s smothering too game and Menjivar’s sneaky good jiu-jitsu game would be a fun stylistic match up for an FX or FUEL TV main card.
Rafael dos Anjos versus TJ Grant – Matt Wiman
dos Anjos put forth his best UFC performance against Mark Bocek by stifling the Canadian’s every offense move. He has had his highs and lows in his UFC career, but he appears to be finally putting together. Currently on a three fight winning streak, dos Anjos is that territory right above the mid-tier, but he not quite a contender. The winner of the Grant-Wiman, which takes place at UFC on Fox 6 in January, will be on the same level as dos Anjos in the lightweight pecking order. The winner of this potential bout could get a crack at the top levels at 155, which in the UFC, is incredibly deep and could get even deeper soon if Gilbert Melendez and/or Eddie Alvarez make their way to the UFC.
Darren Elkins versus Clay Guida – Hatsu Hioki winner
Elkins was impressive in his UFC 154 victory over Steven Siler, battering his opponent with takedowns and ground and pound for majority of three rounds. At 4-0 at 145, he is need a bigger name, and one that could force him to fight on the feet. The winner of Guida – Hioki would not only give Elkins a Top 10 foe, but also take him out of comfort zone. Guida would likely be able to defend his takedowns, and Hioki was the jiu-jitsu game to threaten Elkins off of his back for the first time 145. Either way, a bout with either of these two men would give us a real read on what Elkins ceiling is as a featherweight contender.