UFC Fight Night 35 Aftermath: What’s next for Luke Rockhold?

From the two minutes and thirty-one seconds we got to see of Luke Rockhold on Wednesday night, he looked fantastic. Costa Philippou is not a cakewalk, but with a great use of body kicks Rockhold was able to make it known there was a vast difference in talent between the two.

Rockhold is now 1-1 in the UFC and after making short work of Philippou he quickly let Jon Anik and fight fans know his choices for his next opponent,

“I’m not here to be good, I’m here to be great. I want my rematch with Vitor and I would like it here in the (United) States. I’ll go through anybody I have to get that especially Michael Bisping actually, that would be nice.”

Let’s take a look at who the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion could see in the Octagon next:

  • Michael Bisping: After being forced to withdraw from his fight against Mark Muñoz, Bisping has continued to hear his name  called out by seemingly every middleweight that wins in the UFC. It’s coming on nine months since ‘The Count’ last stepped inside the cage and according to Gareth Davies of The Telegraph, Bisping still needs to pass a peripheral eye test in order to be cleared by UFC medical staff. If his desire to fight Tim Kennedy doesn’t pan out, maybe an April-set matchup with Luke Rockhold would work.
  • The least impressive winner out of either Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi or Francis Carmont vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza: I say least impressive because the most impressive winner out of UFC Fight Night 36 could very well see the next title shot against the winner of Vitor Belfort and Chris Weidman. It’s no secret Dana White typically favors the more devastating finishers when a division is in a state similar to that of the current 185-pound division. With a new champion and a sport with its fair share of injuries, each of the UFC’s top-5 could be granted a title shot at a moment’s notice. Rockhold would need to beat one of the fighters previously listed if he wants to be on the the shortlist for a shot at the gold in the UFC middleweight division.
  • Vitor Belfort: We all know that this is the fight  Rockhold wants. Belfort ended the fight in violent fashion last May with a spinning heel kick in the first round. In order for this rematch to happen, two things need to occur. First, Rockhold needs to win his next fight and stay in the win column. Second, Vitor has to lose to Chris Weidman in their bout that has yet to be announced. If both of these outcomes happen, it is likely that Rockhold could see himself across from Belfort once again.

Three Questions for UFC 168

Will Uriah Hall show his potential?

As a member of Team Sonnen during the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter, Uriah Hall showed the most potential of any TUF prospect in recent memory. His knockout over Adam Cella had many people believing that Hall would find his way to the top of the middleweight division in no time. But a split-decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum in the TUF finale followed by another split-decision loss to John Howard at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen has brought Hall to a “win or go home” fight with UFC veteran Chris Leben.

Chris Leben is riding a three-fight losing streak with losses to Mark Muñoz, Derek Brunson and Andrew Craig. Not many fighters would still be with the UFC after a streak like Leben’s, but he is an alumni of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and Dana White has expressed his love for members of that cast. Regardless of the outcome of this fight, Dana will make sure Leben has something to do, possibly with the UFC gym in Hawaii.

My prediction: Leben presses Hall into action and pushes the fight to the 3rd round, but Hall lands a counter and a gassed Leben is unable to recover: Hall by 3rd round TKO.

What will become of the Rousey/Tate rivalry?

In March of 2012, Miesha Tate lasted until 4:27  mark of the first round against Ronda Rousey before finding herself caught in an armbar. Since then, Tate beat a now-retired Julie Kedzie and then lost to Cat Zingano, yet due to Zingano’s unfortunate injuries Tate now finds herself matched up with Rousey for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship.

As long as Rousey is champion, this could be Tate’s last chance at the championship in the UFC. I, personally, do not think she is an elite enough talent to contend again if she loses on December 28th. I think that the UFC was fortunate enough that Rousey and Tate don’t like each other enough to make the “rivalry” promotion work for a fight that is likely to end the same way as the first one. Saturday night, hopefully, will be the last we have to hear of the Rousey/Tate rivarly.

My prediction: Death, Taxes, and Rousey via armbar.

Will Anderson Silva reclaim the throne?

In sports, there’s a common theory that it’s difficult to beat the same team twice. In this case, UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman will have to accomplish just that, but instead of a team, it’s the greatest mixed martial artist to have ever lived. Weidman is looking to silence the people who think that his first win over Anderson Silva was a fluke, a flash in the pan. Weidman is looking to be a giant killer once again.
Anderson Silva will hold the status as the greatest fighter in the UFC’s history for the foreseeable future. Another loss to Weidman wouldn’t diminish the amazing feats that Silva accomplished in his UFC tenure. If, however, he comes in focused and is able to display the skills that led him to a UFC record 16 wins in a row, he can cement his status as legendary.

My prediction: Weidman is trapped in the Spider’s web. Silva by 4th round TKO.

Three Questions for UFC Fight Night 33: Hunt vs. Bigfoot

Can Mark Hunt stay in the title hunt?

One could argue Mark Hunt, is the best 9-8 fighter on the planet. Initially he was little more than a leftover contract from the UFC’s purchase of Pride, but over the past few years he has emerged as one of the best comeback stories in mixed martial arts. After four wins in a row, including knockout wins over Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve, the ‘Super Samoan’ came up short of a title shot after losing to former champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 160.

Now, Hunt is headlining against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in Brisbane, Australia, not far from Hunt’s native New Zealand. If he can come out on top against Silva, he will maintain his status as “Heavyweight Contender.” Injury concerns are always prevalent in the UFC and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunt found himself in a title fight if he can get back in the win column on Friday

What does Shogun have left in the tank?

It has become clear  Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will most likely be unable to find his way into a title hunt as he enters the twilights years of his UFC career. There were glimpses of the Shogun from his days as the Pride Grand Prix Champion, most notably his win over Lyoto Machida to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, but they merely that, glimpses. With Rua’s only back-to-back wins in the UFC coming against veterans Chuck Liddell and Mark Coleman in 2009, Rua has looked a shell of his former self and has since gone a meager 3-5.

When he steps into the cage opposite James Te Huna on Saturday, Rua is essentially fighting to prolong his career for at least one more fight. But if he loses, I would not be surprised if he decides to hang up the gloves for good and close the book on his storied career. Despite his mediocre record in the UFC, he will always be legend in the world of MMA.

Is Dylan Andrews a legitimate prospect?

Finally, a topic that doesn’t involve a fighter on the verge of retirement. Dylan Andrews has looked impressive since losing to Uriah Hall in the semifinals of season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter. He won his official UFC debut by with a first round knockout over Jimmy Quinlan and he followed it up with a third-round knockout over Papy Abedi. He’ll be facing another fellow TUF 17 cast mate in Clint Hester on Saturday  and with another win would warrant legitimate prospect status.

Three Fights to Make for Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz managed to keep his name relevant in the UFC’s lightweight division last night with a first-round TKO victory over Gray Maynard. Since his return to lightweight, Diaz has gone 4-2 with both losses coming at the hands of former UFC champion Benson Henderson and former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson, meaning that Diaz is not shunned from another title shot in his career. With that being said, he will need to string together a a few more wins over big named opponents  he has any hope of earning another title shot.

Here’s my list of opponents that I would like to see take on Nate Diaz:

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov: Since making his UFC debut in early 2012, the undefeated Russian has looked absolutely dominant. A fight with Diaz would give the UFC a chance to build Nurmagomedov’s contention status and it gives Diaz the opportunity to prove that he still belongs in the upper echelon of the 155-pound division. Plus this fight is almost guaranteed entertainment as Diaz would most certainly have plenty of interesting things to say about Nurmagomedov. Also if you did not see the video last month, Nurmagomedov once wrestled a bear cub when he was a 9-year-old…so there’s that.

2. Rafael dos Anjos: Although he’s riding a five fight winning streak against some decent opponents, his last against Donald Cerrone being his biggest, this does not guarantee a title shot for the BRazilian submission artist. A fight with Diaz with give dos Anjos his sixth straight win in a stacked division and two wins in a row against fighters ranked in the top 10 lightweights in the UFC’s official fighter rankings. For Diaz, the same reasons to take the fight against Nurmagomedov apply.

3. Diego Sanchez: Sanchez had already made it known  he wanted  the winner between Diaz and Maynard. Personally, this matchup is my favorite option  because it would most certainly be a strong contender for Fight of the Night. With Sanchez coming off one greatest fights in UFC history against one of Diaz’s best friends and training partners in Gilbert Melendez, why not  see if  lightning can strike twice? Out of all the possible opponents for Diaz, a matchup with Sanchez would definitely be the most exciting.

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