Another weekend and another UFC card; UFC 163 wasn’t a fantastic card but it certainly wasn’t awful, either. It reminded me a lot of UFC 149 but with a main event that delivered buttressed by a solid (but controversial) co-main. Vinny Magalhaes apparently retired in the cage after a hellacious thumping from Anthony Perosh., among other notables, and now it’s time to look at the aftermath of UFC 163 and play Joe Silva. Who’s next for the most intriguing winners (and losers) from this card?
Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas – Lamas was pulled from UFC 162 because his opponent got a title shot instead. Out of the Top five of the featherweight division Aldo has yet to beat Lamas, who makes for a similar fight as Chad Mendes. If Mendes thrashes Clay Guida accordingly he could leapfrog Lamas, of course, but Aldo already has a first round KO of Mendes and the UFC goes with new contenders before repeats. Lamas gets the call and depending on how bad Aldo’s foot injury is we could see this fight by the end of the year. It could potentially get added to UFC 167 or the next Fight for the Troops, as well, or in early January potentially. It all depends on how healthy Aldo came out of the fight; that foot looked broke but reports are saying it wasn’t.
Phil Davis vs. Shogun Rua – Davis beat the #1 contender, and looked like he belonged in the elite discussion of the division, but he’s not ready for a title shot yet. He needs one more final seasoning before he gets Jon Jones and a scalp like Rua on his record is the final piece of the puzzle. Davis needs a veteran name, and a big win, before he gets a title shot. I could see Wanderlei Silva in this slot as well since he’s staying at 205. Shogun is the only guy who makes sense if he isn’t given a title shot (which could happen depending on Teixiera/Bader). Davis looks the same to me right now as Gustafsson did after his fight with Rua; about to get to the point of being title worthy … but not quite there yet. Agonizingly close, though. He lost to Rashad and has wins over Little Nog, Machida and Gustafsson. That’s pedigree enough for a title shot but the eyeball test shows us that he needs one more fight and he’ll cross the line definitively.
Thales Leites vs. Ed Herman – What a way to come back after four years out in the cold! After coming back as a late replacement because his teammate on Nova Uniao happens to be Jose Aldo, his teammate, Leites ran through Tom Watson in pretty impressive fashion. It wasn’t pretty but with a full camp Leites finishes Watson. His gas issues have been pronounced throughout his career but my guess is that the notice had more to do it with than anything else. Leites has some value and we need to find out how much in the gas tank he has left. Herman would make for a nice second fight, especially with a full camp for Leites. I could see Tom Lawlor being in this spot as well as; Leites is going to get a name but not too big a name. Someone with enough cache to make the undercard spot worth checking out but not anyone on the vestige of the Top 10 will be about right. The winner of Uriah Hall vs. John Howard could be here as well.
John Lineker vs. Ian McCall – Lineker looked great but didn’t make weight. He won’t get a title shot until he at least does that once; the UFC values excitement first but making weight (and passing drug tests) matters just as much. It’s a key to professionalism for Zuffa; guys who make weight without a problem and win do better than those who can’t make weight (but still win). It’s a confidence thing; Lineker needs to do it against someone elite before he gets a title shot. McCall is probably the third best flyweight in the world, losing close decisions to Joe Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson, and needs another win to get a title shot.
Cezar Ferreira vs. Lorenz Larkin – Vitor Belfort’s prodigy wrecked a TUF Brazil 2 contestant in pretty quick, and easy, fashion but he’s not going to be pushed into big time fights soon. Ferreira is the TUF Brazil equivalent to Forrest Griffin; the UFC has big plans for him and he won’t be dropped into the fire until he’s ready. Larkin lost a tough fight to Carmont but his ceiling is starting to come into focus. He can be a gatekeeper to the fringes of the Top 10, potentially, but probably not much higher. Tor Troeng could be in this spot as could Andrew Craig. Ferreira is going to get a winnable fight against someone who’ll stand and “bang” instead of a wrestler. Ferreira is going to be brought along like Erick Silva; slowly with good matchups meant to build him up.
Chan Sung Jung vs. the loser of Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida – That shoulder injury was nasty and I’m not sure if he’ll fight again in the next year or so. But if he does the loser of Mendes/Guida makes an awful lot of sense. That fight is a near default title eliminator and the loser of it will probably get someone elite on the rebound.
Lyoto Machida vs. the loser of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson – Machida is in a bad spot now. He was forced to go the Jon Fitch route to get another shot at Jon Jones, after he was dropped like a piece of luggage at UFC 140, and just lost a fight in the same spot that Fitch did (against BJ Penn). He has an awkward style that makes for a tough matchup, and sometimes awful fights. But he won’t get a big step down in defeat and the loser of Jones/Gustafsson (especially if it’s the Swede) makes a ton of sense. The fact that he’s teammates with Glover Teixiera and Antônio Rogério Nogueira makes it difficult to find matchups for him as they’d be good matchups as well. Rashad Evans would make for an interesting rematch, so don’t discount that as well.
Jose Maria Tome vs. the loser of Gaudinot/Elliott - Tome looked like he belonged in the Top 10 of the UFC flyeweight division. He may have been stopped by Lineker in the second but he looked great in the first. The loser of Gaudinot/Elliott is still Top 10 and makes an awful lot of sense. I could see Phil Harris in this spot, too.
Tom Watson vs. Chris Leben – Watson has traded wins and losses in his three fight UFC stint so far, of course, but I don’t think he gets cut after UFC 163. They have a Manchester card and they always stock them with as much local talent as possible. My guess is he finds his way onto the main card of Bisping/Munoz in a must win fight. Leben is in a similar spot and both guys are guys who love to throw. This’ll be the “sloppy, awful brawl that you somehow really get into” of the UFC on Fox Sports 1 card in England.
Josh Clopton vs. Marcus Brimage – Clopton has lost two in a row and might get cut. His fight was really good, though, and my guess is he sticks around because Americans losing to Brazilians in Brazil is a near given in the UFC most times. Marcus Brimage had a banger of a fight against Conor McGregor and this could be another fun brawl.