With a seven fight main card, a full post on future matchups to make just had to be made. Read below on what possible matchups will come from UFC 144 for guys like Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, “Rampage” Jackson, and more.
Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar II:
As discussed in Reaction from the Action, Edgar is deserving of a rematch after the close decision loss. While the lightweight division continues to remain stuck over the last few years, it is only right for Edgar to be given the same treatment that was given to BJ Penn and Gray Maynard.
Ryan Bader vs. Dan Henderson:
Henderson has turned down a few fights since his win in November against “Shogun” Rua, and he likely still has his eye on April 21st in case Rashad Evans is to withdraw from his scheduled fight with Jon Jones. However, he will need to step in the cage again sooner or later, and Bader is a prime opponent for him and likely someone that would interest Henderson.
Coming off of the biggest win of his career, Bader has moved back into title contention after a less than stellar first half of 2011.
“Rampage” Jackson vs. “Shogun” Rua II:
This was a fight that Jackson asked for after his loss at UFC 135 in September, but he was not aware that Rua already had a fight scheduled. Now with both coming off of losses, they now can step into the Octagon for the rematch of their first matchup in Pride in April 2005.
Anthony Pettis vs. Sean Sherk:
Also discussed in “Reaction from the Action” was Pettis’ title hopes, as he very well might be given a title shot after just two consecutive wins following a loss to Clay Guida in June. For Pettis, one more impressive win would almost certainly guarantee his chances. While Sherk has not been in action since September 2010 at UFC 119, he still remains a top name in the lightweight division and a tough matchup for Pettis.
Mark Hunt vs. Fabricio Werdum:
After Werdum’s win at UFC 143, I mentioned the winner of Hunt vs. Kongo could be the next possible opponent for Werdum. After Hunt’s impressive win over Cheick Kongo over the weekend, that matchup looks even better. Werdum was one of the few top heavyweights in Pride that Hunt never fought, and now that can be remedied with a matchup in the Octagon later this year.
Jake Shields vs. Jon Fitch
With Jake Ellenberger possibly facing the winner of Josh Koscheck/Johny Hendricks, the tier right below them with guys like Shields, Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann, and Jon Fitch is filling up. For Shields, a matchup with Fitch has been discussed for years. Now with Fitch coming off his loss to Hendricks in December and taking him out of the immediate title picture, the long-discussed matchup can come to fruition.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Jose Aldo
Hioki mentioned after his win over the weekend that he feels he would be best served with fighting a few more times before a title fight against Aldo. Unfortunately for Hioki, he is not the one that decides that. It seems most fighters are stating that they want a few more fights before facing Aldo, and that is thinning out the competition for the featherweight champion even more. Regardless, Hioki seems like the top contender that is available for Aldo to fight, and a matchup is still possible even against Hioki’s wishes.
Chieck Kongo vs. Antonio Silva:
Kongo came into the matchup with Mark Hunt with the wrong gameplan. If he does the same against Silva, he very well could be on his back for 15 minutes while the self-anointed “Bigfoot” slams those rather large fists into his face. With both coming off of first round losses, a matchup between the two is intriguing and could be the last chance for both to make a name in the heavyweight division.
Tim Boetsch vs. Ed Herman:
At first glance, this does not seem fair, as Boetsch is coming off the biggest win of his career in the comeback win over Yushin Okami. But with the middleweight division’s depth, things do not always play out fairly. The top contenders are likely set to face each other, names like Munoz, Weidman, Bisping, and Palhares. While a matchup with Bisping is possible, the UFC will likely give Bisping a better matchup in his next fight after losing to Chael Sonnen. Herman is not to be disregarded, as he has won three straight fights since returning from a nearly two year layoff.
Yushin Okami vs. Nick Ring:
For Okami, it had to be awfully hard to leave the arena after losing to Tim Boetsch in that fashion. Coming off of his loss to Anderson Silva in August, Okami was outmatched against the champion. But this loss could be even tougher to comprehend, as Okami was beating Boetsch at will. Then the third came and it was a completely different story. Now Okami finds himself stuck in the division with two straight losses, as many as he had the five years before combined. Setting Okami up with an opponent that can help him get back to his winning ways, something they tried to do with Boetsch, is not as easy as it sounds. But with Nick Ring, Okami would feel confident he can get over the current slide.
Takanori Gomi vs. Sam Stout:
There might not have been a better image on Saturday than “The Fireball Kid” with his hand raised in Saitama Super Arena. After a difficult first round, Gomi was able to overcome Eiji Mitsuoka’s early assault and defeat the fellow Japanese fighter in the second round. Now it is unlikely Gomi will ever challenge for the lightweight belt, but he remains an intriguing name in the division and deserves stellar matchups. A matchup with Stout would be just that, as the striking displayed between the two could not be more different, yet both are effective.
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Mike Pyle:
For “Sexyama” it likely will be ‘four strikes and you’re…still in’ as the Japanese superstar is a fan favorite wherever he fights. Well…except Japan. Akiyama looked good at 170, only slightly gassing out near the end of the third round against Shields. In five fights, he has never had an easy matchup. That very well may continue in a matchup with Pyle, who has been very solid in the last two years, posting a 4-1 record.
Joe Lauzon vs. Terry Etim:
Both coming off of head kick knockout losses, Lauzon and Etim would provide an exciting matchup that would likely provide a round of the year candidate with the way these two start off in the first round. With 12 event bonuses between them, chances are this would also provide some extra cash for at least one of them following the fight.