As the UFC says farewell to China for the year, it was time to look back and see what was next for the main card winners from UFC: Macao. Critical bouts are bound to be made, especially for Michael Bisping and Tyron Woodley, who are ranked in the Top 10 of their division. It’s also interesting to see who is next for the winners of TUF: China. Either way, there are plenty of entertaining fights that could be made for the winners that is possible for the near future.
Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold
After the “worst performance of his life” against Tim Kennedy back in April, Michael Bisping (25-6) bounced back with a fourth-round TKO over Cung Le. “The Count” has alternated wins and losses in his past seven fights. However, with a performance like that, Bisping could build off that win and really start a streak. Although he defeated Le, Bisping didn’t move much in the rankings with his opponent being unranked.
Since he lost his UFC debut last year to Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold (12-2) started the year strong with a first-round TKO over Costas Philippou. He followed that performance up with his most recent win, a first-round submission over Tim Boetsch at UFC 172. Because of his 2-fight winning streak, the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is a Top 5 UFC Middleweight.
As interesting as Rockhold facing Lyoto Machida sounds, the feud between Rockhold and Bisping cannot be denied. The two have been going back and forth since Bisping made that comment a couple of years ago, labelling himself as the “Unofficial Strikeforce Champion” after he sparred with Rockhold. There is plenty of bad blood which makes this fight more of a need than a want for both the UFC and the fans.
Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia
It only took 61-seconds for Tyron Woodley (14-3) to follow up a poor performance against Rory MacDonald back at UFC 174 with a TKO over Dong Hyun Kim. After catching “Stun Gun” while he attempted a spinning strike, “The Chosen One” took advantage and finished him. He received plenty of criticism from his last fight, especially from Dana White, who said “he chokes in the big fights”. Woodley didn’t choke in Macao and is climbing the rankings once again.
Just like Woodley, Demian Maia (19-6) bounced back from a loss to Rory MacDonald and defeated Alexander Yakovlev at TUF: Brazil 3 Finale. The BJJ World Champion was a fight or two away from fighting for the title until a close fight to Jake Shields ended in defeat. Maia is 4-2 since moving down to 170 lbs. He has earned five Zuffa bonuses and holds notable wins over Chael Sonnen, Jon Fitch, Rick Story, and Dong Hyun Kim.
Depending on the status of his injury, Maia fighting Woodley would be intriguing. Though they are very accomplished in BJJ and wrestling, their striking has improved vastly. It would be interesting to see how Maia and Woodley match up.
Zhang Lipeng vs. Jake Matthews
Following his controversial Split Decision over Wang Sai to become the TUF: China Welterweight Winner, Zhang Lipeng (8-7-1) earned a more convincing win, handing Brendan O’Reilly his first loss with a Unanimous Decision. At 24-years-old and fifteen fights under his belt, Lipeng has plenty of time to grow in the sport and become one of China’s top fighters.
In the main event of the prelims at UFC Auckland, Jake Matthews (8-0) dominated Dashon Johnson for the first two rounds before submitting him in the third. Despite not making it past the opening round at TUF: Nations, a lot of hype surrounded “The Celtic Kid” after the season. Many talked about his improvements, especially at 20-years-old. He showed it in his last fight and remains undefeated in his professional MMA career.
With Matthews being a teammate of O’Reilly in Team Australia, he would get the opportunity to redeem his fellow TUF: Nations alum if the UFC gives him a fight with Lipeng. It wouldn’t be a big feud but it would make for a fun storyline.
Ning Guangyou vs. Mark Eddiva
In the TUF: China Featherweight Finale, Ning Guangyou (4-2-1) defeated Yang Jianping to win the season for his division. For someone who has started fighting professionally in 2007, he only has six fights in his career. At 32-years-old, Guangyou doesn’t have much time left in the sport but being the Featherweight Winner of TUF: China doesn’t hurt.
Back in March, Mark Eddiva (6-1) won his UFC debut, defeating Jumabieke Tuerxun with a Unanimous Decision. Unfortunately, he suffered his first defeat in his following fight at TUF: Brazil 3 Finale to Edimilson Souza. His first five wins before entering the UFC were all first-round stoppages.
With both fighters being not that young and having little experience, it would be appropriate for these two to get matched up next. Not only is this possible fight a great way to build the Asian market for the UFC, it’s also a great way to show how credible TUF: China is. It also proves whether Eddiva belongs in the UFC or not.
Do you have any other suggestions on who’s next for the UFC: Macao main card winners? Leave a comment below the article and/or send a tweet to @CagePagesFS.