Fights to make after UFC 173

UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw went down this past Saturday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event featured arguably the biggest upset in a UFC title fight, as T.J. Dillashaw stopped Renan Barao in round five, and in the process, became the first member of Team Alpha Male to win a title in the UFC.

In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier’s size and speed proved to be too much for Dan Henderson. Cormier used those attributes to beat up on Henderson for the better part of three rounds, before sinking in a shocking, fight-ending rear naked choke.

In a featured bout, Robbie Lawler moved one step closer to a rematch with Johny Hendricks by knocking out Jake Ellenberger in round three. Throughout the fight, Lawler was consistently one step ahead of Ellenberger and was simply the better fighter.

Takeya Mizugaki picked up his fifth straight win, as he was able to neutralize most of what Francisco Rivera threw at him. And in the first fight of the main card, James Krause picked up a TKO (injury) win over Jamie Varner. The end came after round one, when Varner was unable to continue due to a foot injury.

The undercard featured plenty of exciting match-ups and several memorable finishes. On a side note, former Ultimate Fighter contestants went 6-1, with the biggest win coming from the new bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw.

As is always the case after events, it is time to begin speculations as to what is next for the winners. The following are match-ups I’d make.

James Krause vs. Michael Chiesa

Both fighters were victorious this past Saturday night, albeit, each victory came under different circumstances. It is very difficult to figure out what we have in Krause. He made his UFC debut with an incredible win over Sam Stout, winning the fight by submission. He then suffered a “TKO” loss to Bobby Green; a fight that should have been a DQ win after he was repeatedly kicked low. He follows that up with a win over Varner, due to injury. Is this guy the Jimi Manuwa of the lightweight division?

On the other hand, aside from his loss to Jorge Masvidal, Michael Chiesa has been solid at lightweight. Chiesa has used his combination of wrestling, heart, and determination to get the job done, more often than not. A fight between these two young fighters would tell us which one of them is ready to take the next step up the ladder at 155.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Renan Barao

Who would have thought that this would be the match-up I’d make and that there would be no title involved? Takeya Mizugaki has to be rewarded for his five-fight winning streak, and what better way to be rewarded, than by getting a shot at the former champ? Let’s not kid ourselves, under normal circumstances, such a winning streak would have earned a fighter a title shot already. However, Mizugaki’s style does not lend itself to high praise and admiration. A win here, though, and all bets are off.

Contrary to his manager’s beliefs and my own fandom of Barao, he doesn’t deserve the next title shot, despite his previous 33-fight unbeaten streak. It’s not like he loss via flash KO like Anderson Silva did to Chris Weidman at UFC 162. He was thoroughly beat up in every round, did not win a round, and was finished in round five. Despite all of this, Barao could find himself right back in a title fight with a potential win over the surging Mizugaki.

Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown

I have to admit that I cheated on this one. It was already announced that Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown is going to headline UFC on Fox 12 on July 26, from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. While I would have liked to see Lawler get another crack at Hendricks, there is no timetable for the champ’s return, and so this is the next best thing. The big question that needs to be asked is “who is this Robbie Lawler and what has he done with the other Robbie Lawler?” I say that will complete respect. Lawler is simply knocking dudes out with alarming consistency.

How fitting is it for Lawler’s next fight to be against another fighter who has dramatically turned his career around? Matt Brown reminds me of a much more skilled Chris Leben. You hit the guy, you hurt him, and then he repays you three times over. He went from nearly getting stopped by Erik Silva, to destroying him over the next two rounds, to finishing him. At this point, you begin to wonder: does this guy even know how to lose anymore? Unfortunately, the clock is going to strike 12 for one of these stories. But man is this going to be a great fight!

Daniel Cormier vs. The winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Despite being 43-years-old, Dan Henderson, in my opinion, represents Cormier’s biggest win to date. Cormier, much to my surprise, dominated Hendo and put him to sleep with a beautiful rear naked choke. He’ll now await the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, which still does not have an official date and place. Cormier is a supremely gifted fighter that will present very unique challenges for either Jones or Gus. What he’ll give up in speed, technique, and reach, he’ll more than make up for in his uncanny ability to get anyone to the ground. While I would still favor Jones or Gus over “DC,” his win over Hendo proved that he is undoubtedly a force at 205.

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao II

Well, this is the rematch we’ve all been waiting for. Not really, but it’s the fight that makes sense and should happen. Enough cannot be said about the ease in which Dillashaw defeated Renan Barao. I’ve literally been in a state of shock since Saturday and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. I also have to admit that I was completely wrong. I mentioned that Dillashaw had no shot at beating Barao. Boy was I wrong. Dillashaw has two losses in the UFC. His first was to John Dodson, who he may never fight again due to Dodson fighting at flyweight. His second was to Assuncao; a fight he loss by split decision. Needless to say, he is chomping at the bit to avenge that loss.

Raphael Assuncao isn’t the popular choice here. But with how easy Dillashaw defeated Barao, Assuncao should definitely get the next shot. After all, as I already mentioned, he has a win over the champ. While that fight was razor close and no one can seem to agree on who they think won, a win is a win. The problem with this fight is that, with all due respect, it shouldn’t and probably won’t headline a PPV. That means that it’ll be the co-main event on a card featuring a more popular champion. Either that, or it’ll be featured on a fox card. That has less to do with Dillashaw and more to do with Assuncao’s drawing power.

Other fights to make:

Tony Ferguson vs. Mitch Clarke

Chris Holdsworth vs. the winner of Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka

Vinc Pichel vs. Leonardo Santos

Sam Sicilia vs. Akira Corassani

Li Jingliang vs. Chad Laprise

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