With no title fights this month, Zuffa, the parent company of UFC and Strikeforce, used their weekly events to clear up some conflicts in their title pictures. Now, after UFC 131, and the recent TUF Finale, the landscape of MMA as a whole has been changed
The Lightweight division, likely the most stacked, with contenders Clay Guida, Melvin Guillard, Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller, Sean Sherk , Ben Henderson, George Sotiropoulous and Anthony Pettis all capable of challenging for the title at any given time. Last week’s TUF Finale saw Clay Guida wrestle his way to victory over WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, and moved into the Top 5 in the division. Guida was able to stifle Pettis’ creative offense, and his submission attempts with his relentless wrestling ability. While not the exciting, fight of the year candidate many hoped for, Guida earned a decisive victory.
In the week following, several huge announcements and revelations were made regarding title matches scheduled over the next several months. Jon Jones mentioned in an interview, that pending medical clearance, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson would be the first challenger to his newly won Light Heavyweight Title. The bout is currently targeted for UFC 135, in Denver.
Dana White also announced that Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz would be vacating his title in order to challenge Georges St-Pierre in October. Nick Diaz will have the option of fighting in UFC and Strikeforce if he isn’t successful in his title quest. Tyron Woodley and an unnamed opponent are likely to compete for the vacated Strikeforce Title.
With the recent addition of WEC fighters, a Flyweight (125 pound) division will also be added to the UFC, hopefully by the end of the year. The lack of experienced and marquee talent are the primary factors in the delay of the division, and UFC scouts will be scouring for fighters over the next several months.
Speaking of the WEC, Jose Aldo, former WEC and current UFC Featherweight champion can be a little more certain of his future after UFC 131. Without a clear cut contender, Kenny Florian (who once competed as a Middleweight), took on the 16-1 Diego Nunes, in what became a title eliminator. Florian waited until the second round to utilize his excellent jab and reach advantage on the much shorter Nunes. A loss to Nunes doesn’t hurt him too much in this case, as he falls to a still impressive 16-2, and is only 28 years old. Florian is said to “most likely” be receiving the next crack at the dominant Jose Aldo.
The main event of the evening featured knockout kings Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos in a number one contender’s bout. Personally, I feel like Junior Dos Santos, who had six consecutive UFC victories, should have been given his shot long ago in the shallow division. Saturday Night he solidified this belief, as he soundly and dominantly defeated Carwin. JDS displayed his outstanding jab, light footwork, and speedy combinations. In the third round, Dos Santos was able to take down Carwin twice, impressive considering Carwin’s collegiate wrestling credentials.
Dos Santos enters as an early favorite against Cain Velasquez, as he possesses inhuman takedown defense, and arguably the best hands in the Heavyweight Division. Velasquez is also coming off of an injury, and the date of the fight has yet to be determined.
A few other fighters to keep your eye on would be Chris Weidman, Mark Munoz and Dave “Pee Wee” Herman. Munoz is now 6-1 in the middleweight division, with his only loss being a controversial split decision to current number one contender, Yushin Okami. Munoz often works with the likes of Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, and the rest of Team Black House, so his guidance is at the top of the totem pole. His victory over Damien Maia puts him in an interesting position, as his teammate Anderson Silva may be training with a potential opponent in the future.
Herman, who is now 21-2 (one loss by DQ) in his MMA career, had an excellent, exciting comeback victory over Jon Olav Einemo. The 26 year old Herman, who was formerly known to not train at an intense level, and relied strictly on talent, has now hit the big time, and is likely to be a major contender in the future. I look for him to make major improvements in the near future, particularly in his stand up defense. When Herman was backtracking, his hands were low, and he held his chin up, being very lucky to survive a few exchanges with Einemo. Their back and forth slugfest was one of the better heavyweight fights I’ve ever witnessed within the USA.
Chris Weidman also moved to 6-0 Saturday, ending Jesse Bongfeldt’s 7 fight unbeaten streak. While the Middleweight Division has been cleaned out by Anderson Silva, it has its large share of prospects on the horizon. Let’s not forget Hector Lombard and Jacare Souza are also champion Middleweights that the UFC may look at acquiring soon.
Don’t forget next week, as the Strikeforce Heavy weight Grand Prix continues On Showtime. I’ll be live tweeting on the event, so be sure to follow me on Twitter!