With an absolutely epic main event to cap a tremendous card, UFC 139 is in the books. You can read what Shawn thought of the card as it was happening but now it’s time to pick the five most intriguing fighters from the card in terms of who they ought to fight next.
Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson 2 – It was easily the fight of the night and demands a rematch. There’s no other way.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann – Wanderlai’s in a bad spot. He might not have much left in the can but he’s such a big name that you can’t feed him tomato cans or stick him on a preliminary fight. So you need a big name for him. Stann likes to fight in a similar manner and is coming off a big loss to Chael Sonnen; this could be a great fight with someone much more suited to his skill set. Silva passed on the fight once but this could be a great one at the right time for him.
Ryan Bader vs. winner of Vladimir Matyushenko/Alexander Gustafsson – Bader seems to have gotten back on the winning track with a decisive victory over Jason Brilz. He’s still a Top 10 fighter in the division and needs someone comparable. The winner of that fight would be a stiff challenge to Bader and the winner vaults into potential title consideration immediately thereafter. A fight against Forrest Griffin could be a fun one that establishes the same thing, as well.
Urijah Faber vs. Dominick Cruz – I made the case a short while ago that Renan Barao deserved a title shot based on his absolute dismantling at UFC 138. Faber looked just as good and defeated a better opponent than Barao did; you can argue that Faber deserves the chance to finish his trilogy with Cruz before Barao gets a title shot. Cruz is hurt with a broken hand from the Mighty Mouse fight, however, so if he can’t be ready in a short while one can argue that Faber/Barao would be a great fight for a #1 contender or Interim Title.
Nick Pace and Shamar Bailey vs. Guys Outside the UFC – There’s no excuse for missing weight as poorly as both of these guys did. Pace especially, coming in over six pounds against a former champion in the division, and it’s blatantly disrespectful to do so. Bailey made the weight previously, which makes his inability to hit 156 such a shocker this time around. I can’t imagine either fighter sticking around in the UFC after this weekend’s debacle and maybe a jaunt into the realm of local fighters looking to make a name wouldn’t be a bad thing. It has helped a handful of other fighters in the past, like Gabe Ruediger, become more professional in this capacity. Both Pace and Bailey can potentially belong in the UFC based on their abilities; one imagines that Zuffa won’t put up with such poor fight preparation and cut loose both men early next week.