Fights To Make After UFC Fight Night 26

By Rick LaFitte
Chael Sonnen
Winslow Townson USA Today Sports

After an entertaining night of fights at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston, let’s put on our matchmakers hat and put together some fights we’d like to see for a number of the main card participants.

The main event saw an impressive return to the win column for Chael Sonnen, who forced a first-round tapout of former light heavyweight champ Mauricio ‘‘Shogun’’ Rua via guillotine choke. Sonnen was immediate with the direction he’d like to take in calling out Wanderlei Silva. I think that’s a fight that definitely caters to most fans. The “Axe Murderer” will likely be more than receptive to accept the challenge to avenge his Brazilian counterpart.

If not Silva, how about Vitor Belfort? Sonnen against any Brazilian is always good theatre. It’s unclear what is next for Rua, as it was no doubt a bitter pill for him to swallow. Any potential title shots at 205 pounds he had are clearly dashed with the loss. Perhaps a rematch with Dan Henderson might be the way to go. Their classic encounter at UFC 139 was one of the greatest fights in UFC history. If not “Hendo”, unfortunately retirement might have to be considered for the true MMA warrior.

Travis Browne showed true grit in a spectacular come-from-behind first round stoppage of fellow Heavyweight Alistair Overeem. Browne was in serious trouble after a brutal combination of knees and ground and pound from “The Reem”, but managed to survive the onslaught and completed the remarkable rally back from the brink of defeat with a tremendous left front kick, followed by hammer fists to end the night for Overeem.

Browne against fellow upstart Stipe Miocic would seem a solid match to make. Miocic is a guy who saw his stock rise dramatically after a three-round beat down of Roy Nelson at UFC 161. Another possibility would be for Browne to take on the winner of this month’s matchup between veterans Josh Barnett and Frank Mir at UFC 164. Browne showed plenty of heart and character in the Overeem victory, and the spectacular, decisive finish has now made him a very prominent player within the heavyweight ranks.

Bantamweight Urijah Faber survived an early scare to post a decision win over Brazilian Yuri Alcantara. Faber showed his veteran savvy in being able to survive a tough opening frame and employed a ferocious ground-and0pound game with elbow after elbow to turn the tide in his favor. ‘‘The California Kid’’ could be an ideal candidate for a couple of potential superfights.

For one, you could have Faber move back up to featherweight to tangle with Frankie Edgar. Faber has expressed an interest in that option, and it would seem to be a tremendous matchup on paper. Both are cardio machines and traditionally involved in exciting bouts, so it would seem a no-brainer to make. Another attractive option could be to have Faber stay at the bantamweight division and perhaps tangle with current flyweight Champ Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.

Johnson could move up in weight for the marquee affair mainly because there remain a couple of fights that need to play out at the championship level at bantamweight. First off, interim champ Renan Barao squares off against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165, with champion Dominick Cruz awaiting the winner as he gears up for a return in early 2014 from a lengthy absence. Either option for Faber, be it Edgar or Johnson, would seem appealing to fight fans.

Welterweight Matt Brown continued his sensational career revival and likely moved into top-10 territory with an impressive 29-second stoppage of veteran welterweight Mike Pyle. Brown has now reeled off six straight wins, many of them coming in impressive fashion. I’m not sure the post-fight call-out of current welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre will have any traction, but it’s clear Brown is brimming with confidence.

I’d love to see Brown tangle with the winner of this month’s rematch between Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann. As appealing as that might seem, an even better option could be Robbie Lawler. Both veterans are enjoying a career renaissance and with their aggressive styles, it would have the makings of an all-action war.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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