After losing his belt to Rashad Evans, and then suffering a humbling knockout defeat to Anderson Silva, former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin got his career back on track at UFC 106 with a split decision victory over Tito Ortiz.

Immediately after the event there was a strong push, from Ortiz in particular, for a rematch, with both Griffin and UFC boss Dana White appearing willing to entertain the idea.  There was also speculation that the two could coach the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter ahead of the rubber match.

That idea now appears to have been put on hold however after the weekend announcement that Ortiz will now coach opposite Chuck Liddell on the upcoming season of the show.

Another likely match-up appeared to be Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who got off to an impressive start in the division by convincingly defeating up and coming prospect Luiz Cane.

In a recent poll on this site asking who Nogueira should fight next, the most popular match-up by far with 44% of the vote was Forrest Griffin.  Despite the interest in that fight, it has just been announced that Nogueira will now face Brandon Vera at UFC 109 instead.

So where does that leave Forrest Griffin?

Firstly he needs time to heal from a foot injury which  is likely to keep him from competing in the early stages of 2010.  After that Griffin himself has stated that he wants to continue to challenge himself against the top fighters in the division.

The problem is that along with the fighters mentioned earlier, many of the divisions top stars are already tied up with other fights.

It seems unlikely that he will be next in line for a title shot, and to be fair it’s not something that he himself has called for.  Even if there were plans to line him up against the loser of the Lyoto MachidaShogun Rua rematch, that fight isn’t scheduled until May 1st next year, and the UFC won’t want Griffin on the shelf for that long.

A rematch with Rashad Evans is currently out of the picture since Evans is set to fight Thiago Silva at UFC 108 in January, and then will have his hands full with a much anticipated rematch with fellow TUF 10 coach Quinton Rampage Jackson.

Thiago Silva could remain a possibility, particularly if he were to emerge victorious against Evans. If he lost however, this may be a fight that is unlikely to capture the fans imagination.

Could Rich Franklin Be Up Next?

One option that stands out is Rich Franklin who is expected to make the move to 205lbs after spending his last two fights at a catchweight of 195lbs.  He is currently taking an extended break from the octagon after his knockout loss to Vitor Belfort, but is expected back in the spring / early summer.  That would appear to fit in with

While he has lost some of his main event credibility in recent times, Franklin is still a well respected fighter, and a fight between two of the organizations most likable stars would be a marketable fight.  A potential stumbling block is that, after coming off a loss, the promotion may be looking to give Franklin a more gentle introduction to the division.

Beyond that another choice could be the fast rising  Jon Jones.  Though he lost to Matt Hamill at the weekend due to a disqualification, his dominating performance impressed all who witnessed it, and suggests he is ready to take a step up in competition.

It has to be remembered however that Jones is still only 22, and has been fighting professionally for less than 2 years.  Will the UFC be willing to risk his continued development and growing reputation by throwing him in against a former champion so soon?

Personally I think the Rich Franklin fight makes the most sense from the available options, but as always it will be interesting to see  the UFC’s take on it in the new year.

Article by RossC