By Ryan Busuttil
The UFC’s Middleweight division just got a lot more interesting! Less than a week after the almost 2 year feud between champion Anderson Silva and his “arch nemesis” Chael Sonnen concluded at UFC 148, many were wondering who the next challenger for Silva’s crown would be. The thought was that the winner of the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 4 would have a strong claim to the #1 contendership. Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman both had momentum heading into their 5 round fight, but it was Weidman who walked away with a dominating victory that has left people wondering if the Long Islander has proven himself ready for a title shot. Let’s take a look at who both main event fighters and the other main card winners should fight in their next bouts.
Going into this fight, I felt that Weidman had nothing to lose. He’s been in the UFC for a little over a year and already posted 4 victories, including one on short notice against former title challenger Demian Maia. In the Serra-Longo fighter’s first main event, Munoz was a slight favorite based on his experience. But, after dominating Munoz with wrestling and submission attempts in round 1, Weidman showed he could stand with the “Filipino Wrecking Machine” in the second round. After a slick elbow strike, Weidman finished off Munoz with a whole lot (and most would say too much thanks to referee Josh Rosenthal) of ground and pound en route to his victory. Weidman didn’t just beat Munoz; he straight out pulverized him. You could make a point that the first round was a 10-8 for Weidman and Munoz wasn’t able to do anything when he was on his feet either. But, the million dollar question: Is Weidman ready for Anderson Silva? He sure seemed to think so, politely calling out the champion after his victory. It’s hard to argue against him when he has a stronger resume than the rest of the division. Michael Bisping is coming off a loss; Brian Stann’s last win was against Alessio Sakara, whom Weidman defeated in his first fight; Sonnen won’t be getting another shot anytime soon; Alan Belcher has yet to fight a top-10 opponent since his return from injury. There’s only 1 man who can make a claim to a title shot, but he still needs to win his UFC debut. I’m talking about former Bellator Middleweight Champion, Hector Lombard. Lombard debuts at UFC 149 against Tim Boetsch and some feel that he will get a title shot with a victory. I say if he beats Boetsch, have Lombard and Weidman fight for the title shot. Silva usually only fights every 6-8 months, so a fight between Lombard and Weidman this fall will have them ready to face Silva in early 2013. If Lombard loses his fight, then I think Weidman is the only fight that makes sense for Silva.
Next Match: Weidman vs. Hector Lombard in early fall
Munoz came into this fight riding a 4 fight win streak. After an injury stopped him from fighting Chael Sonnen last January, Munoz had an opportunity to make a case for a title shot with a win over Weidman. If Munoz had won in the way that Weidman did, there probably would be less of a debate on if he was ready for a shot. But, it was not Munoz’s night. Weidman proved to be the better wrestler and the better striker. Add in all of the unnecessary shots he took thanks to the late stoppage, and Munoz suffered insult and injury. So what’s next for him? Give him the fight he was originally supposed to get earlier this year and give him a chance to get back into title contention.
Next Match: Munoz vs. Sonnen at the end of the year
James Te Huna
Most people will remember Te Huna’s “Fight of the Night” victory because of the amount of punishment that Joey Beltran took in the fight and how Beltran kept fighting back. But, Te Huna dominated Beltran on his way to a third straight win. He’s now 4-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to Alexander Gustafsson. This was only the second fight in Te Huna’s 20 fight career that went the distance and his previous 3 wins came via KO or TKO. I think Te Huna is ready for a tougher task in his next assignment.
Next Match: Te Huna vs. Thiago Silva later this year
The newfound welterweight looked impressive in his unanimous decision win over Kenny Robertson. Simpson’s wrestling was once again the difference-maker. Simpson wasn’t happy being unable to finish Robertson and said that he needed to work on that if he expects to compete with the division’s best, including his original opponent Jon Fitch. Fitch tweeted that he would be ready by the fall and I think that the original fight is the right one for both fighters.
Next Match: Simpson vs. Jon Fitch this fall
The Tri-Star fighter displayed some impressive BJJ by submitting Karlos Vemola in the second round. It was Carmont’s second straight victory via rear-naked choke and he is now 3-0 in the UFC. Carmont is not in the same middleweight tier as the main event participants, but he’s winning fights and deserves a well-known opponent for his next fight.
Next Match: Carmont vs. C.B. Dollaway this fall
Dillashaw made quick work of Vaughan Lee by submitting him halfway through the first round. The Team Alpha Male bantamweight earned his second UFC win. Dillashaw is in a tough spot being the in same division as his teammate, Urijah Faber, especially if Faber wins the interim title at UFC 149. But, the 26 year old is just getting his career started so the title isn’t in the picture quite yet. I’d give him a fellow victorious Ultimate Fighter alumnus for his next fight.
Next Match: Dillashaw vs. Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres later this year
Rafael Dos Anjos
The veteran lightweight earned a unanimous decision victory in a dominating performance against Anthony Njokuani. Dos Anjos is in the most crowded division in the UFC and he has been unable to break through the upper echelon. Pairing him up with a similar fighter makes sense for his next bout.
Next Match: Dos Anjos vs. Jacob Volkmann later this year
What matches do you guys want to see? Give me your picks below!
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