Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson
Barboza looked great in this fight, but he crumpled when he fought Jaime Varner. If he wants to get to the top he needs to prove that he can hang when put under pressure. Pearson has the striking ability to test Barboza, and that is the challenge he needs.
Nik Lentz vs. Dennis Siver
Lentz put on a great performance against Diego Nunes, and he will continue to dominate until he fights someone that can defend his takedowns. Siver just dropped out of his fight with Cub Swanson, and just so happens to have great takedown defense. It would be interesting to see how Lentz does when forced into a stand-up battle.
Ronny Markes vs. winner of Brad Tavares/Riki Fukuda
Markes has won three straight fights, but he hasn’t yet proven that he is ready to challenge the top of the division. He needs at least another bout or two under his belt to get that shot. The winner of Tavares vs. Fukuda will have a decent win streak as well, and can most likely give Markes a real fight.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Takanori Gomi/Diego Sanchez winner
Nurmagomedov blasted through his first three opponents in the Octagon, and he needs to face someone that will not wilt under pressure. Gomi and Sanchez are both battled-tested veterans who have seen everything that Nurmagomedov will throw at them. They would be a good test to see how far Nurmagomedov may go in this sport.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Cheick Kongo
It is amazing that these two have been in the UFC this long but have never fought each other. Kongo has the striking to beat Gonzaga, but it is also very likely that Gonzaga could take out Kongo on the ground. For two fighters trying to get back to the top of the division, this is a logical next step.
C.B. Dollaway vs. Lorenz Larkin
Dollaway has claimed to be ready to assault the top of the middleweight division, but he needs to prove that he is able to stand with potent strikers. Larkin is one of the top fighters coming from Strikeforce, and he wants a shot at the best the UFC has to offer as well. Let these two fight each other, and whoever comes out at the victor will be ready for a top ten opponent.
Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold
Belfort wants to go back to 205 pounds and fight for the belt, but that division has way too many contenders for him to earn another shot at the title anytime soon. Meanwhile, at middleweight, a lot of the contenders have lost recently and left a void. Rockhold is fighter who has made his mark by capturing the Strikeforce middleweight title, and he has stated that he wants a fight for the UFC belt. The only thing stopping that is that he is not really known by the fans that buys pay-per-views. So let him fight Belfort, and if he passes that test he will earn name recognition and his title shot.