What a return for Georges St. Pierre last night; Carlos Condit was game and nearly took the fight in the third and GSP persevered, taking a unanimous decision that was incredibly close. GSP looked like the old GSP, Condit looked like the second best welterweight in the world and a sizzling KO from Johny Hendricks put him firmly in the driver’s seat for a title shot. But will he get it? And what of the rest of the card, what becomes of them? It’s time we play UFC matchmaker and figure out who goes where amongst the five most intriguing winners and losers. You can read Shawn Smith’s PBP right here.
GSP vs. Anderson Silva – No better time than now to make the biggest fight in the history of the sport and one of the biggest in combat sports history, period. If the UFC really wants to build the narrative that MMA is the new boxing, and that the superfights can be made under the Zuffa roof, than what better way than to pack a stadium and needle in that Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather will never happen, then this fight needs to get made. If the UFC is serious about making the battle between the two best pound for pound fighters in the sport, then the time is now. But more on that later, because I could go on for about 1,000 words or so on why this fight needs to happen. If this fight can’t be made, which I doubt, look for his next title defense will be Johny Hendricks.
Johny Hendricks vs. Georges St. Pierre – It’s kind of hypocritical to want GSP vs. Andy Silver, for the superfight of the ages, and then want GSP to defend his title as well. But Hendricks has mercked out Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, sandwiched by a close decision against Josh Koscheck that was only close because Koscheck got a little eye-pokey, and has earned that title fight. Will he get it? I don’t know. The problem with Hendricks right now is that he’s waiting on GSP and Andy Silver to figure that mess out. If that doesn’t happen then he gets GSP. I could see him getting the winner of Rory MacDonald vs. BJ Penn or Jake Ellenberger, or maybe even the Strikeforce WW champion, if GSP takes on Silva and he gets a fight in the meantime.
Ivan Menjivar vs. Urijah Faber – Menjivar had a slick, slick armbar finish and is now a win away from a title shot. With Dominick Cruz out, and Renan Barao’s interim title defense status unknown so far, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that he gets Faber. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s Barao’s first title defense, either, or gets matched up with Michael MacDonald or Mike Easton either. Menjivar is closing in on a title shot and the next fight is someone in that top five category.
Matthew Riddle vs. Dan Hardy – Riddle really seems intent on picking a fight with Hardy, especially considering his apparent dislike of England because of a spitting fan years ago, but it also oddly makes sense now. Riddle is finding his spot as a good middle of the road welterweight who probably will never sniff a Top 10 ranking, it seems, and Hardy had his moment in the sun as well. It would make for a nice little brawl and crowd pleaser.
Patrick Cote vs. Alessio Sakara – He may have won on a technicality but this should’ve been a no-contest. I think the UFC gives them another go round, if only because it was bad reffing as opposed to anything else. Real bizarre fight to end the FX portion of the undercard, really, and I think they set it up again. Cote is in an odd spot where he’s the best middleweight on the regional circuit but a borderline UFC fighter. He’s not good enough for someone like Brian Stann but is too good for most of your prospects, as well. Tom Lawlor could be in this spot as well.
Martin Kampmann vs. Nick Diaz – Diaz is getting a big name when he comes back off his marijuana suspension. I don’t think he’ll be in a title eliminator but he’ll get someone in that Top 10 level to get his feet wet again. Kampmann is always up for a scrap and is a winnable fight for Kampmann. You won’t be picking off an immediate contender, either, as Kampmann is going to have to go back to winning a number of fights to get to where he was before he got cold-cocked by Hendricks.
Carlos Condit vs. the loser of Rory MacDonald/BJ Penn – Condit lost an absolute war to GSP but at this point can’t be considered anything but a win or two away from a rematch. A rematch with MacDonald would be interesting, especially considering how far MacDonald has come since their first fight, and Condit-Penn was scheduled at one time as well. Either fight would be interesting. Condit’s in a nice spot as the #2 with a close loss; his ability to get another title shot is much easier than someone like Jon Fitch, who got rolled by GSP in his only title shot. Josh Koscheck could be in this spot, potentially, as could the loser of Damian Maia vs. Jon Fitch as well. A rematch with Nick Diaz could be on the horizon, as well, but one imagines they’re going to keep them away from one another until it’s for a title or the right to challenge for one.
Steven Siler vs. Justin Lawrence – Siler and Lawrence are both solid prospects who just suffered their first losses in the UFC. One of the things Zuffa does well is put guys who’ve had a little scuff on their shine and let them get it back against one another. Andy Ogle would be another guy in a similar spot that could make for a good fight, as well.
Tom Lawlor vs. Ed Herman – Lawler and Herman were both guys on the cusp of a Top 10 guy who lost that fight to get there. I can see the UFC putting them together. A lot of people thought Lawlor won but no one’s going crazy about it, either, because it was a bad fight too. Lawlor’s antics put him in notice, though, and my guess is he gets a tough but winnable fight next.
Sam Stout vs. Mac Danzig – Stout and Danzig are exciting fighters who’ve hit their ceiling. Neither is going to be in the title mix but they’re good, middle of the undercard guys who can sneak onto the main card with a win streak.