5 Future Fights To Make In The Wake Of UFC 165

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Playing Matchmaker in The Aftermath Of UFC 165

Jon Jones
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, the greatest thing about being a fight fan is when something unexpected turns into something special. That’s what UFC fans were treated to in Toronto this past Saturday night at UFC 165 when what was anticipated to be another ho-hum title victory for light heavyweight champion Jon Jones against Alexander Gustafsson turned into an instant classic.

“Bones” was a heavy favorite in looking to secure a record-setting sixth-straight light heavyweight title defense, but you knew in watching in the opening round that this particular challenge was going to be formidable. After 25 minutes of thrilling action, it was the champion emerging with a narrow decision victory in what was easily the most difficult fight of his career. All of a sudden, the talk of how Jones was the pound-for-pound king who couldn’t be beat was replaced by talk of a rematch between the two warriors.

There were other very important matchups on the card as well that saw an interim bantamweight champion continue his path of destruction, and in the process get closer to a highly-coveted unification fight. We saw an athletic heavyweight contender raise his career stock and a couple of relative newcomers to casual fans deliver their finest performances to vault into the top-10 rankings.

After a UFC 165 event that still has everyone talking about a Jones-Gustafsson clash that ranks as one of the finest light heavyweight title fights in UFC history, I thought it would be a good time to play matchmaker and examine the attractive matchups that can be made in its aftermath.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2

Jon Jones
Tom Szczerbowski USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the biggest fight to make after what we witnessed in Toronto is a Jones-Gustafsson rematch. Having two talented competitors in the peak of their careers deliver the type of bout that we saw this past weekend, it is more than understandable why the common sentiment is "let’s see it again". That’s after both fighters have had some well-earned rest and relaxation, of course.

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Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

This would be an outstanding matchup between two lightweights who are just getting their due recognition as top-10 performers. Nurmagomedov improved to 21-0 in his career and a perfect 5-0 in the UFC when he beat down veteran Pat Healy over three rounds in a surprisingly dominant decision. As for dos Anjos, the Brazilian is fresh off the biggest win of his career against Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 27, and has won five straight fights.

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Francis Carmont vs. Mark Munoz-Michael Bisping winner

Francis Carmont
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Carmont has won 11 fights in a row and stayed unbeaten in the Octagon with a dominant effort against Costa Philippou. The Tristar gym product did what he had to do against Philippou by keeping him on his back for almost the entire fight, thus smothering his offense. A top contender like a Bisping or a Munoz would be someone for Carmont to show us whether he’s title worthy. Bisping and Munoz are set to fight on October 26 in England.

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Brendan Schaub vs. Stipe Miocic

Brendan Schaub
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

A two-fight win streak gets you noticed in the heavyweight division, and Schaub has that after a first-round choke out of Matt Mitrione. Schaub has added a few more elements to his game and does possess good striking, and is worthy of a top-10 opponent. As for Miocic, he received high praise for his three-round striking display in a decision victory against Roy Nelson at UFC 161. Schaub would represent a solid challenge and it would make for an action-filled fight between two good athletes

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Renan Barao vs. Dominick Cruz or Michael McDonald-Urijah Faber winner

Renan Barao
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

This one has a caveat to it as the UFC clearly wants the unification fight for Barao against Cruz in early 2014. Barao continued his winning ways by defending his interim belt against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 with a stunning second-round TKO. Barao has waited a long time for the Cruz showdown and if he’s able to return as planned early next year, that’s the fight that will be made.

If Cruz can’t return as scheduled and is stripped of his title, the next best option would be the winner of the December 14 fight between “The California Kid” and “Mayday”. While they’ve both lost to Barao before, they simply remain the top contenders if the Cruz unification bout doesn’t happen as scheduled.