Now that The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale, which took place live at The Pearl At The Palms in Las Vegas, is behind us, the question “where do we go from here” still stands. We will now look at what can possibly come next for the evening’s marquee fighters.
Martin Kampmann: Now riding an impressive three-fight win-streak, “The Hitman” has toppled top tier names in the division such as Jake Ellenberger, Thiago Alves, and Rick Story. Kampmann finds himself within reach of a potential shot. Realistically, the Dane’s contentious setbacks against Diego Sanchez and Jake Shields were poorly rendered decisions, which held “The Hitman” back longer than necessary.
Given the strength of his recent wins, and the fact that Kampmann is the only man in the UFC welterweight division to hold a win over interim champion Carlos Condit, it seems almost criminal to not set that match up. Condit, however, plans on sitting out until champion Georges St-Pierre makes his return. What seems to be the most natural fit in lieu of Condit would be a clash with Johny Hendricks for the incumbent number-one contender slot.
Next up: Johny Hendricks
Jake Ellenberger: After a disheartening loss to the Hitman, all the steam “The Juggernaut” had built up en route to a title shot seems to haze fizzled. While the heavy-handed wrestler is still certainly one of of the top dogs in the division, he’ll have to wait for his turn at a title shot now.
A rematch with Rick Story seems to be the most fitting option for the Nebraskan, assuming Rick Story gets by UFC newcomer Brock Jardine later this month. The two first met on the regional circuit in 2008, where “The Horror” took a unanimous decision victory. With both men suffering recent losses to Kampmann, a second meeting between the two wrestlers may just become a reality.
Next up: Rick Story
Michael Chiesa: After putting a stamp may very well be the greatest story in the history of “The Ultimate Fighter”, season 15 winner Michael Chiesa now sits in a position where he will either be slowly brought along or face a big jump in competition. What’s best for Chiesa at this point would be a match-up with a lower mid-tier lightweight. A meeting with someone like John Cholish seems ripe for the young Washington native. For a bigger jump in competition, fellow TUF Winner Mac Danzig, who recently bounced another TUF champion in Efrain Escudero from the promotion would also make sense.
Next up: John Cholish or Mac Danzig
Al Iaquinta: This season’s runner-up finds himself in a less favorable position than his conquerer, but if past season’s are any indication, Iaquinta’s next challenge may very well be one of his house mates. Team Faber’s number-one pick, a bout with Team Cruz’s top choice in Justin Lawrence seems appropriate.
Next Up: Justin Lawrence.
Charles Oliveira: After a virtuoso performance against the always tough Jonathan Brookins, it may be time for the Brazilian dynamo to take the next step up the featherweight rankings. While match-ups with Hatsu Hioki or “The Korean Zombie” would be exciting, Both men seem to be poised for a title bout against 145 lb. kingpin Jose Aldo. A bout with the winner of early July’s Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie tilt may be what’s next on the docket for “Do Bronx”.
Next up: Winner of Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie
Jonathan Brookins: It’s been a rough ride for Brookins, who has failed to put together a sustained win-streak inside the octagon behind winning The Ultimate Fighter 12. Given the idea that losers are often matched with losers, a match-up with season 14 champion Diego Brandao, who is coming off a loss to Darren Elkins at UFC 146, seems like a logical next step for the wrestler.
Next up: Diego Brandao