Fights to make after UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

April 22, 2013


Fights to make after UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

John Boldrick – In its seventh major network broadcast, the UFC had a lot to live up to. With that in mind, this Saturday’s UFC on FOX 7 card featured an interesting dynamic of Strikeforce versus UFC matchups, including a lightweight title unification that has been some time in the making. Now, we have an undisputed champion, an instant top ranked heavyweight and a slew of possible future matchups with the potential to intrigue. Let us peer into the crystal ball and look at some matchups for Saturday’s main card fighter.

Matt Brown vs. Dan Hardy- Coming into his fight with Jordan Mein, Brown was on a four fight win streak. The streak was partly the result of three vicious KO’s. Now, we can add another knockout to that list. The usual brawling of Brown was on full display, as he took the fight to his opponent. While Mein may be more known for his elbows, it was Brown who used the strikes to perfection.

That’s five in a row for Brown, who will likely end up on yet another FOX card due to his reputation for being exciting. It would be nice to see Brown against a top ten fighter, but we need the event’s original fight. Both Brown and Hardy are brawlers with big power who love to finish fights. Hardy recently turned around a four fight losing streak, winning two in a row. Can anyone say “fireworks”?

Jordan Mein vs. Bobby Voelker- Going into this fight, Mein knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. He knew it was going to be a dog fight and that was exactly what happened. Mein stood toe to toe with his adversary, trading big shots. Mein also continued to show off his stellar submission defense. When all was said and done, Young Gun couldn’t keep up, falling victim to a second round TKO.

Next up for Mein, pair him up with another gritty fighter coming off a loss. Voelker lost his last fight to Patrick Cote at UFC 158. In the fight, he showed toughness and a very game chin. Here, you have a perfect prelim to get fans excited for a great night of fights, as both guys bring it every time they step in the octagon.

Josh Thomson vs. winner of Jim Miller/Pat Healy- What a welcome back for The Punk. In his first octagon appearance in nearly nine years, Thomson looked more impressive than he has in some time. He used leg kicks to chop at Nate Diaz, mixing in a takedown or two as he went. In the second, Thomson was able to land a head kick and follow up shots to become the first man to stop Diaz with strikes.

Thomson just knocked off the number four ranked fighter in the UFC’s lightweight division. Next, match him up with the winner of the upcoming Miller versus Healy fight. Miller is currently ranked at number five, so Thomson could face another highly ranked fighter. If Healy is able to beat Miller, he deserves to be called a top fighter. Either way, a fight between well rounded veterans is on tap.

Nate Diaz vs. Joe Lauzon – Saturday simply wasn’t Diaz’s night, as he failed to become the second member of his camp to defeat Thomson. Diaz didn’t look like his normal self, as he failed to really get his combinations going. He still appeared cocky as ever inside the octagon, although this time it didn’t help.

Diaz has said he would like to move up to welterweight, but 155 is best division for him. At 170, Diaz’s size is too much of a disadvantage for him to be a legit threat. At lightweight, there are still a slew of interesting matchups, like one against Lauzon. While Diaz is ranked higher, a fight between the two would no doubt be a war, as each has some of the slickest ground work in the division to go along with solid striking. A fight between these two has to happen.

Daniel Cormier vs. winner of Junior dos Santos/Mark Hunt- In his UFC debut, Cormier let the world know why he is a top fighter. The Strikeforce grand prix winner took the fight to his opponent, a former UFC champion, using some big punches and a very heavy clinch game. Cormier was able to avoid the ground game for the most part and stay away from his opponents strengths.

Cormier, the current number three in the division, has to be in the next number one contender bout. It just makes sense. Have him face the winner of a UFC 160 heavyweight showdown. The Hunt/JDS winner may be ear marked for a title shot, but a matchup with Cormier is needed to find out who the true top contender is.

Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem – At Friday’s weigh ins, Mir was in great shape. He had built up quite a bit of muscle and looked like an absolute beast. Unfortunately for Mir, the success didn’t translate to the cage. Other than a quick flurry of knees and kicks in the third round, Mir wasn’t able to get his offense going. The former champ dropped the decision, pushing his losing streak to two.

Mir’s in a bit of a weird spot. He’s faced so many fighters in the division that just about any fight is a rematch. Let’s try to find a fresh face for him to fight. How about a match up with Alistair Overeem? Both are top ten fighters coming off losses, so the fight makes sense. The two have also traded verbal jabs in the media, adding a little fire to this fight.

Benson Henderson vs. winner of Gray Maynard/TJ Grant- Another close decision, another victory for Henderson. Henderson improved his UFC record to 7-0 with a split decision victory in a fight that could have gone either way.  Bendo started slow, but turned it on late to secure the win. His leg kicks were especially effective, cutting the challenger down.

It’s already been made official, but next up for the champion is the winner of an upcoming showdown between Maynard and Grant. The booking makes sense, as each are top ten fighters and will be on streaks with a win. Maynard will be able to match Henderson’s size and power while Grant has looked unstoppable at lightweight.

Gilbert Melendez vs. Donald Cerrone- Talk about a close call. Melendez’s fight with Henderson drew cries of rematch from the MMA community. His performance certainly deserves it, as Melendez proved to be a true test for the champion. The biggest asset of his attack was the fact that Melendez was someone that could not be bullied, unlike many of Henderson’s opponents.  His defensive wrestling was also on display.

The thing is, with so many rematches clouding up the title picture in recent years, the chances of Melendez getting one are pretty low. Look for him to fight another top of the division fighter instead. A Melendez versus Cerrone fight is sure to be a barn burner. Both have excellent standup and good ground games to boot. It would also be fun to see a little WEC against Strikeforce matchup.



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