Lavar Johnson vs. Matt Mitrione
Lavar looked great last night. Yes, he was taken down and mounted by Barry, who is not known for his ground game, but he still pulled off the win, and that’s what matters. with two wins in the UFC, it’s time for a a step-up in competition. While Mitrione is coming off a loss – he poses a lot more threats than Barry or Beltran. Matt will be able to strike on his feet, and will be able to test the ground game of Johnson further. His ground game is not top notch, so it will be a good marker for Lavar if it goes there. The match-up, stylistically spells out fireworks, which is usually the deciding factor when it comes to match-making for Joe Silva.
Alan Belcher vs. Loser of Silva vs. Sonnen
The middleweight division is kind of at a stand still. There are more contenders than there has ever been, but most of them are already locked up with opponents. You have Munoz vs. Weidman, Bisping vs. Boestch, Stann vs. Lombard, and then Silva vs. Sonnen for the title. It’s hard to say who deserves the next shot until some of these matches play out. The most deserving fighter out of the bunch may be Lombard, who has had a stellar career outside the UFC, but if he flounders and Munoz gets past Weidman, Munoz likely earns the shot. So it is logical that Belcher facing the Sonnen and Silva loser would make the most sense. Giving him a fighter at the top of the heap – plus, with a win over either, no one could deny his top contender status.
Johnny Hendricks vs. winner of Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann
Just like the middleweight division, the welterweights are jammed as well. With the champ out, in recovery, and the interim champ Carlos Condit waiting to unify the belts, there is no title fights likely till Dec. Beyond that, the division has some true contender match-ups. If Ellenberger gets past Kampmann it’s hard to say who deserves the shot at the title. Ellenberger would be on a six fight win streak, and his only loss in the UFC was on short notice to current interim champ Condit. Hendricks on the other hand only has four wins in a row but has added wins over Fitch and Koscheck in those. A match-up between the winner is only logical as it creates a true contender to the belt, and they will have to wait until end of the year for GSP’s return anyhow.
Nate Diaz vs. winner of Frankie Edgar vs Ben Henderson II
It’s official. Nate Diaz is truly a different fighter. I do not know when he turned the corner, but the Diaz who had losses to Maynard, Stevenson, and Guida is gone. Now he truly is the number one contender. People rumbled for Anthony Pettis to get a title shot because he has a win over the current champ, but his UFC career does not garner that much attention. A loss to the aforementioned Guida and a two fight win streak over low contenders Jeremy Stephens and Joe Lauzon do not merit a title shot. Diaz on a three fight streak might not seem like much, but you have to consider how he out-struck Gomi, gave Cerrone his first loss in the UFC when he was on a five fight winning streak, and just finished Miller – something no one has ever done. The UFC’s plan is to let Diaz get his rest and watch the outcome of this rematch closely.