The UFC made their 4th visit to Vancouver last night with an exciting four-fight main card on FOX that delivered from start to finish. Below, we’ll take a look at what could and should be next for last night’s four biggest winners: a grappling wizard, a former champion, a surging superstar and a grizzled vet.
Demian Maia: Maia extended his win streak to six in the main event of last night’s UFC on FOX 21 card by submitting Carlos Condit via rear-naked-choke. Not only did the finish appear virtually effortless (Maia took Condit down with a single leg, took his back and forced the tap just under two minutes in to the contest) it was downright shocking. Sure, when you pit a world-class grappler against a world-class striker – anything can happen. Maia winning wasn’t the shock – it was how quickly and easily he did it against one of the best welterweights of all-time. Condit hadn’t been submitted in over a decade and he was coming off a split decision loss to Robbie Lawler that many, including myself, thought he had won. This loss even had the ‘Natural Born Killer’ questioning if he belongs in the UFC following the fight. After nearly 14 years of high-level mixed martial arts competition – this could be a case of the mileage adding up or it could be that Maia is just that good this late in his career – it’s probably a little bit of both.
With Rory MacDonald (who recently signed with Bellator) and Carlos Condit out of the title picture for the first time in years, the welterweight division has finally sorted itself out after Vancouver. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is your front-runner for the title (currently held by Tyron Woodley) and Demian Maia is the guy who deserves a shot at the winner. Pretty simple, right? Then there’s Georges St. Pierre. The man who never lost his title, the lineal champ if you will, will make his return before the year is out. The question surrounding him is whether or not he even has the desire to get the gold back or if he’s more interested in a big name fight for a payday? All signs point to the latter – a rematch between St. Pierre and Diaz is currently the hot rumor – many believe the fight will headline UFC 206 in Toronto on December 10th.
When it comes to what’s next for Maia, I can’t come up with anything other than a title shot, he deserves the winner of Woodley versus Thompson. But as our resident Fight Wolff always says, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with,” shout out to Bill Munny. In the UFC, it’s easy to map out the future for any division – it just hardly ever ends up going as planned. You have to factor in that Woodley is already being a prima donna since winning the title and a guy like Nick Diaz, who hasn’t won a fight since 2011, is more likely to get a title shot in this day in age than Thompson or Maia. We’ll just have to sit back and watch the circus unfold.
What Should be Next: The winner of Woodley vs. Thompson.
What Will be Next: If he waits he may see his 40th birthday before a title shot, let’s hope not.
Anthony Pettis: While Pettis didn’t exactly look like championship material in his featherweight debut last night, he did establish himself as a viable threat at 145 lbs. More importantly, he put an end to a three-fight skid that he suffered at lightweight.
Pettis fought through everything his opponent, Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira, had and ended up beating him at his own game, finishing the fight with guillotine choke in the 3rd and final round. Oliveira, one of the larger 145’ers in the division, was a great first test for Pettis. He may still have some issues when it comes to the wrestling game but he’s still one of the most dangerous strikers and submission artists in the game. He could be ranked as high as #6 with this win over Oliveira which already sets him up for a fight that will hold major title implications next.
Max Holloway currently holds a nine-fight winning streak at featherweight and unfortunately will not get a title shot any time soon due to the Conor McGregor fiasco. The least the UFC could do for the “Blessed” 24-year-old out of Waianae is let him headline the 1st ever UFC Hawaii card against a star like Anthony Pettis.
What Should be Next: UFC Fight Night Hawaii ‘Holloway vs. Pettis’
What Will be Next: Tons of exciting match ups in store for Pettis if he doesn’t get Holloway. Yair Rodriguez and Cub Swanson are the first two that come to mind.
Paige VanZant: VanZant’s stock has never been higher following her highlight reel KO of Bec Rawlings last night in Vancouver. VanZant showed a ton of heart in defeat against Rose Namajunas last winter and followed it up with an impressive stint on Dancing With The Stars that helped get some new eyeballs on the sport. “12 Gauge” came out looking for the flashy KO finish in the 1st (she even attempted a crazy capoeira kick that would’ve blown the roof off the joint if it landed) but to no avail. In the 2nd, she’d find what she was looking for, landing a beautiful switch kick that would’ve made a young Daniel LaRusso fall in love for the very first time, improving her record to 7-2 with 2 T(KO) finishes.
Anyone asking for a title shot for VanZant at this juncture needs to slow their roll. As impressive as this finish was, it comes over a fighter in Rawlings who albeit tough will likely end her career as a .500 fighter. There are a lot of options for VanZant next but she’s still 2 or 3 wins away from the title. She’d match up very well against submission artist Maryna Moroz, or you could give her the winner of Joanne Calderwood versus Jessica Andrade at UFC 203 as well.
What Should be Next: Maryna Moroz or the winner of Calderwood versus Andrade.
What Will be Next: Same. The UFC will make the right move, they don’t want to rush VanZant just yet.
Jim Miller: Both Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon were fresh following quick finishes at UFC 200 just over a month ago and both men looked it. Their second fight (a rematch of their 2012 bloodbath) could’ve went either way, but in the end it was Miller who would earn a split decision victor the hard way from the Vancouver judges.
Miller tied Gleison Tibau (who is currently in the middle of a 2 year suspension) for most career wins at lightweight with 16 last night and he looked fantastic doing it. A fight against the winner of Evan Dunham versus Abel Trujillo (UFC Fight Night 94 – 9.17) at UFC 205 in New York (New Jersey’s Miller should be on this card) provides an exciting match up for the fans and gets the winner back into the UFC 155 lbs rankings.
What Should be Next: Miller vs. Dunham/Trujillo winner
What Will be Next: If he wants to be on UFC 205 then give the man what he wants. Miller versus anyone is a must watch.
image credit – UFC
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