By Joe Osborne
While UFC 123 won’t go down as one of the best cards of 2010, it certainly wasn’t its worse thanks to some exciting finishes and close fights. Here’s a look at what could be next for UFC 123’s main participants.
Rampage Jackson – Jackson was lucky to pull off the split decision victory over Machida in a fight that could have gone either way. After the fight, there was lots of talk about a rematch, which Dana White immediatelyshot down. The UFC can go one of two ways with Rampage. They can give him the title shot against the winner of Shogun and Rashad Evans in a fight that would do big pay-per view numbers, or set up a #1 contender fight against the winner of Jon Jones and Ryan Bader. A one fight winning streak doesn’t exactly warrant a shot at the title, but Rampage is one of the UFC’s top draws, and money talks.
Lyoto Machida – The hype train surrounding Machida’s fighting style has come to a screeching halt. While he remains one of the top light heavyweights in the world, it appears as if people have his fighting style figured out. The once invincible Machida is now on a two fight losing streak and he still has a lot of tough fights in front of him. A fight versus the winner of Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin makes lots of sense and will make for a solid co-main event sometime next year.
BJ Penn – There’s no other way about it, Penn looked amazing against Hughes and displayed the skill that made him worthy in the discussion for the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Immediately after the fight, it was announced that Penn would headline UFC 127 in Australia against Jon Fitch. This is a great fight for both Penn and Fitch, as it will either show that Fitch is the clear cut #1 contender or that Penn has the ability to make a serious run at 170 pounds. Penn breaths new life into the UFC’s welterweight division, and a potential full-time switch to the division symbolizes a changing of the guard for the lightweight division who has recently seen an infusion of new talent thanks to the WEC merger.
Matt Hughes – Hughes probably won’t be in a huge rush to get back into the octagon, and it will be interesting to see where the 37 year-olds career goes from here. Chances of Hughes making any sort of run in the division are slim, but if he still craves the competition he deserves a fight against a top 10 talent. A fight versus Martin Kampmann might be interesting, or the UFC could go a different route and put together a rematch against Matt Serra who Hughes beat by decision at UFC 98.
George Sotiropoulos – This guy is on a serious roll, and deserves serious consideration for a title shot, but due to timing, he won’t get one anytime soon. With good reason, the UFC wants to put Sotiropoulos on the late February card in Australia, because of course, he’s Australian. Since many of the top contenders in the lightweight division already have fights lined-up, Sotiropoulos will take on Dennis Siver who has won six of his last seven fights. While Siver is certainly talented, he’s not on the same level as Sotiropoulos. With a victory over Siver, Sotiropoulos will become the clear cut #1 contender, but will probably have to wait a while to get his shot as the winner of Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis will be next in line for a crack at the title.
Phil Davis – Alright, somebody get this guy a fight. Mr. Wonderful is now 4-0 in the UFC, and although he might not be the most well rounded fighter in the division, he’s certainly displayed some serious skills and should be given a fight against some tougher competition. The UFC likes to take it’s time with its young talent, and while he may not be ready for a title shot anytime soon, a fight versus Matt Hamill makes a lot of sense for both fighters as they try to climb the ladder in the stacked light heavyweight division.
There you have it. UFC 123 is now in the books and its results will definitely set up some intriguing fights in 2011. The light heavyweight division is pretty much a mess right now with no clear cut #1 contender along with the long-delayed title fight between Rashad Evans and Shogun. The results of fights over the next few months will shed some light on the future of that division and will separate the contenders from the pretenders in the sports most talented division.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think is next for the above fighters and how do you think things will play out in the light heavyweight division? Have fun playing match maker, and we’ll do it all again in a few short week after UFC 124.
Joe Osborne is a sports and entertainment enthusiast who resides in Halifax, NS. To read more articles like this, visit WhatUpSports.com, or you can contact Joe at email@example.com.