By Benjamin Bieker
Jason High vs. Kelvin Gastelum
There is no reason that Gastelum needs to be sprinted toward a title shot or the top ten. Let the TUF winner of 21 years old grow in the Octagon. High is someone that can give Gastelum trouble on the ground and with the submission game. That is something that Gastelum needs to be tested with to see just how good he is.
Darren Elkins vs. winner of Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier
Elkins made up for the knockout loss to Chad Mendes by using his cardio and will to win to get the decision over Hatsu Hioki. Obviously, he will not jump back into the top five with one win, and neither will Koch or Poirier after their recent losses. Let Elkins face off against the winner of Poirier and Koch to see who truly deserves their slot among the elite.
Brandon Thatch vs. Court McGee
Thatch was impressive with his knockout, but at the end of the day, Justin Edwards had not fought in nearly a year. Let Thatch fight someone who will not wilt under pressure, and someone who will not let the up and comer impose his will. McGee had a decent win, but it was not that one sided. Sometimes, fighters have to beat a few new comers before they get their shot at the top ten. That is what McGee needs to do after two close decision wins.
Dylan Andrews vs. Alan Belcher
Andrews come from behind win is one of the memorable ones, because after losing the first two rounds he did not give up and earned the knockout. It would be nice to see him against someone who can give him trouble on the feet, and Alan Belcher fits that bill. The former top ten fighter has lost two straight and would be a stern test for the hard hitting Australian.
Brad Tavares vs. Thales Leites
Tavares just based on his win streak needs a big fight, but if he had actually been impressive in any of them the fight would be a lot bigger. Leites is a world class fighter, but does not have the name recognition of a one. He can test Tavares to see how good he is, or just earn himself another win on his way back to the title he once fought for.
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway
Mizugaki did not read the hype that Perez had, and he went in and did what he needed to do to get the win. Unfortunately, the top ten at bantamweight has a lot of fighters coming off losses, injured, or already lined up for fights. Mizugaki can face off with Caraway who has won all but one of his UFC fights, and will be hyped due to him helping coach the next season of TUF.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Josh Thomson
Anjos did what all the other former number one contenders in the lightweight division of the UFC have done in defeating Donald Cerrone. The Brazilian born fighter should find himself in the top five of the division with that performance, and now he just needs to win a fight or two as the title confusion clears. Henderson and Pettis face off soon, but the issue is whether or not TJ Grant will get the title shot upon his return. It is all up in the air, but in the meantime Thomson is another fighter right on the cusp of a title shot. That is why a fight between the two makes perfect sense.
Donald Cerrone vs. Gray Maynard
Another big fight and another disappointing loss for Cerrone. He does not come up big in the big fights the same as Maynard. That is why a fight between the two will help to boost one of the fighters confidence on their way back up the lightweight ladder. For the one that losses, he may be looking toward some change whether it be camp, weight, or mentality to their fight game back on track.
Martin Kampmann vs. Mike Pyle
Both Kampmann and Pyle are fighters on the cusp of the top ten who have suffered losses recently in their career. Kampmann’s loss to Condit was not nearly as bad as Pyle’s loss to Matt Brown, but do not forget how fast Johnny Hendricks plastered the Danish fighter. Both have exciting styles, great grappling, and power in their hands. It has a great fight for the fans written all over it between two veteran fighters.
Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown
The UFC has given Carlos Condit three straight fighters who want to take him to the ground. Brown is someone that is willing to stand and trade with the former interim champion. These two both want to get to the title almost more than anyone else in the division. Condit needs to string together a few wins while GSP faces some new challenges or the title switches hands. Brown needs to prove he is better than the champion, and knocking out Carlos Condit would prove that to everyone. This may not be the fight that everyone thinks of, but it is the fight that needs to happen.
What are your thoughts?