A hectic spell which saw four UFC events taking place in the space of eight days is now over and it’s now time to take stock and see what’s next for the big winners on the cards.
McGregor capped off a scintillating night of fights at UFC 189 with a fairy-tale finish against Chad Mendes, rebounding from a tough start to stop him with punches late in the second round to become the new featherweight interim champion while skyrocketing him to even greater heights as the biggest star in the sport.
What comes next is obvious for all to see – the title unification bout with Jose Aldo absolutely has to happen, and with there now being even more interest in the fight (if such a thing is even possible!), the talk is that the UFC are targeting The Dallas Cowboys 100,000 seater stadium to house the showdown at the end of the year.
Lawler’s stock unquestionably rose at UFC 189 after he successfully defended his welterweight title against Rory MacDonald in one of the best title fights ever to grace the Octagon. Lawler has become a savvy five round fighter now who’s becoming better at pacing himself, but knows how to dig deep when the chips are down and bring out the killer instinct when required.
It’ll be interesting to see what the UFC decides to do for his next title defense. A trilogy fight with Johny Hendricks is clearly a strong possibility, though after two separate five-round wars between them in little over a year already there is still a sense that fans would like to see a fresh match-up before revisiting that one.
With that in mind Carlos Condit, who recently returned with a win over Thiago Alves and is ranked No.4 in the division, would make for a highly entertaining alternative, though Hendricks would no doubt be fuming if that’s the option the UFC decides to go for.
Thompson is really starting to flourish in the UFC’s welterweight division and while a win over Jake Ellenberger at the TUF 21 Finale may not mean as much as it would have a few years ago, it’s still a big feather in his cap, particularly due to the highlight-reel nature of the finish, and has sent him to No.9 in the rankings.
As for what’s next, former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine is just one placed above ‘Wonderboy’ at No.8, and given both are talented strikers that sounds like a good stepping stone before mounting an assault on some of the biggest names in the top 10.
Mir showed that despite his advancing years and a losing streak not so long ago that he’s still a very dangerous man at UFC Fight Night 71 with as devastating a KO as you’ll see all year. It wasn’t a showcase of fluid, technical striking skills though, and he’d be wise to put a little more emphasis on defense next time out.
The UFC’s heavyweight division is wide open at the moment, so anything is possible for Mir’s next fight. I’d be tempted to put him up against another veteran in Ben Rothwell next who’s three places above him at No.7 in the rankings after a three-fight winning streak.
Bisping was given a real run for his money against Thales Leites this past weekend at UFC Fight Night 72, but he prevailed in the end and so he’s now compiled back-to-back wins, now holds the 3rd most victories in UFC history and still hasn’t given up hopes of a title shot in the future.
A good stylistic match-up next would come against Gegard Mousasi, but that would require waiting around until late in the year since Mousasi has to get past Roan Carnerio at UFC Fight Night 76 in September first.
If the UFC is looking for an alternative, how about Lyoto Machida who will be looking to rebound after suffering back-to-back losses recently. This would also serve as a match-up to test Luke Rockhold’s claim earlier in the year that Machida was essentially “an upgraded version” of Bisping.