By Benjamin Bieker
Edson Barboza vs. winner of Diego Sanchez/Takanori Gomi
Barboza showed that his hands have just as much power as his kicks do in this fight, but a win against the relative newcomer Lucas Martins does not do much toward getting a title shot. What it does prove is he needs to fight more top fighters. A match with either Sanchez or Gomi would test him on his feet or the ground. So, lets see what Barboza is made of, and if he really can challenge the veterans of the sport.
Nik Lentz vs. Chan Sung Jung
The change in weight has done wonders for Lentz as he was absolutely dominate in his performance against the formerly top ranked Diego Nunes. The problem is that as Lentz continues to fight opponents he can take down at will he will never be tested. The grappling acumen of Jung has been documented with nearly ten submission wins in his career victories. Even if the fight goes to the ground, we will see if Lentz can withstand a real offensive fighter off his back.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. winner of Jacob Volkmann/Bobby Green
Nurmagomedov is the new force in the lightweight division, and with three straight wins with two finishes he needs to be tested. Volkmann and Green can give Nurmagomedov a test in two different aspects of his game. Volkmann has the ability to take nearly anyone down, and Green has the power in his hands to test Nurmagomedov’s chin. Those are two parts of his game fans will want to see tested on his ascent to the top.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Travis Browne
Gonzaga has fought some of the best fighters in the world, but he seems to lose when he strays away from his ground game. The knockout win over Cro Cop did not help since it may have made him overconfident in his standup game. Since his return to the Octagon, he has beaten both of his opponents by submission. Browne recently was upset by Antonio Silva and needs to beat someone tough to show he deserves his spot among the best heavyweights. Plus, with only three decisions in a combined 35 fights you know one of their nights will end early.
C.B. Dollaway vs. Lorenz Larkin
Dollaway is a grinder that is for sure. Unfortunately, his chin does not hold up that well when put under pressure; so, even though he claims to shot for the top he may have a rough time if he cannot defend the hard punches. He may be a nice welcoming fight for recent Strikeforce import Lorenz Larkin who can test Dollaway’s chin, but at the same time he can test Larkin’s ability to defend a shot.
Vitor Belfort vs. Ronaldo Souza
While Belfort claims to want a rematch with Jon Jones it makes no sense when he seems to be a lot better when fighting at middleweight. That is where he should stay until he can earn another shot at the 185 lb. title. Souza has a great ground game, but he needs to be tested on the feet if he ever wants to prove he can challenge Anderson Silva for the title. So, why not have him fight the second best striker in the division? It could easily headline and cary outside of PPVs just on name value alone.
What are your thoughts?