UFC 156 featured an irregular number of upset wins as three massive underdogs in Antonio Silva, Rogerio Nogueira and Demain Maia proved their worth last night, picking up outstanding wins over their opposition. The Strikeforce imports also showed their worth last night, with Bobby Green, Isaac Valle-Flagg and Tyron Woodley picking up impressive wins in their debuts.
Here are the fights to make after UFC 156:
1. Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas
Jose Aldo looked his usual dominant self on Saturday night, earning a reasonably safe unanimous decision over former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. The win is his eighth straight title defense since winning the WEC featherweight title and solidifies his spot as the true kingpin of the 145lbs division. Next for Aldo should be Ricardo Lamas, who took out perennial contender Erik Koch last week with some vicious ground and pound. Lamas is 4-0 since moving to featherweight picking up wins over Cub Swanson and Hatsu Hioki prior to defeating Koch.
There has been talk that Anthony Pettis may be getting the next featherweight title shot if he choses to move down in weight and whilst that would be an outstanding fight, I am not in favour of the UFC putting divisions on hold in order to make room for title challengers from different divisions. After Lamas, Aldo still has competition at featherweight including the likes of Korean Zombie so the division is far from emptied.
2. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua
‘Lil Nog’ looked outstanding in his upset win over former champ Rashad Evans. The win is a sort of resurgence for Nogueira, who had suffered losses to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis before recovering with wins over Tito Ortiz and Evans putting him at 2-2 in his last four fights. Next for Nogueira should be fellow legend Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, who is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Alexander Gustafsson. With neither man near the top of the food chain at light-heavyweight, a match-up between the two would be an interesting one.
3. Antonio Silva vs. Josh Barnett
Antonio Silva picked up one of the biggest wins of his entire professional career when he KO’ed top contender Alistair Overeem in the 3rd round of their bout on Saturday night. After a slow start for the Brazilian, he came out swinging for the fences in the third round and ended the fight with a vicious flurry that would be remembered in highlight reels for many years to come. Next for Silva should be a solid wrestler capable of testing the Brazilians ground game. He was controlled in the majority of his fight on Saturday night and lost a one-sided bout to current champ Cain Velasquez via some brutal ground and pound. A match-up with potential Strikeforce import Josh Barnett would be a great fight. It would offer up some time to determine if Silva would be the next contender and would be a great measuring stick for Barnett as he enters the UFC heavyweight division for the first time in eleven years.
4. Alistair Overeem vs. Mir/Cormier loser
Of all the upsets on Saturday nights card, this is easily the most disappointing and easily the most shocking as well. After a year on the sidelines after testing positive for increased levels of testosterone to epitestosterone ratio, Overeem returned with a chip on his shoulder and that cost him an opportunity to challenge for the heavyweight title in the next few months. Arrogance led to a missed opportunity and that will hopefully lead to a hungrier and deadlier Overeem who will not be interested in clinching with his opponents but knocking them out as he is infamous for. Whilst many would want to see JDS vs. Overeem, it is likely that the latest turn of events will lead to a Cain vs. JDS III match-up. In that scenario, the best match-up for the Dutch kickboxer would be the loser of the upcoming Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir match-up. It would be an elite level match-up and a big win would certainly put Overeem back in the title hunt.
5. Demian Maia vs. MacDonald/Condit winner
Another Brazilian to pick up an upset in at UFC 156 was Demian Maia, who “out-fitched” Jon Fitch en route to a unanimous decision win. The most obvious match-up for Maia would be a the winner of Rory MacDonald vs. Carlos Condit II. With Maia’s recent win, there really are not many other elite welterweights higher ranked than Fitch other than the MacDonald/Condit winner. That should be his next match-up and a win there would almost undeniably mean he will be challenging for the welterweight title.