Top 5 UFC Fights To Make In Aftermath Of Fight For The Troops 3 and Fight Night 32
5 attractive UFC matchups to make after Fight Nights 31 and 32
Well, it was a rousing week for UFC fans with a couple of great events from Fort Campbell and Brazil. UFC Fight for the Troops 3 and Fight Night 32 produced some terrific action with highlight-reel knockouts, breakout performances and a matchup involving two legends of the sport.
Army Ranger Tim Kennedy came through in impressive fashion on his big night as he destroyed Rafael Natal in the first round before his military brethren. Kennedy proved it doesn’t have to be a grinding affair for him each time out as he registered his first KO since 2007. Alexis Davis inserted herself into the women’s bantamweight title picture with a gritty victory over the ultra-tough Liz Carmouche. Other highlights included Rustam Khabilov showing he’s one to watch in the lightweight division by out-dueling rugged veteran Jorge Masvidal in a Fight of the Night effort. That fight featured a ridiculous spinning heel kick to the head from “Tiger” in the final round. Also of note were the performances of Dennis Bermudez and Francisco Rivera as they continued their win streaks in exciting fashion.
In Brazil, Vitor Belfort got his revenge on Dan Henderson for a prior loss in 2006 in Pride, and cemented his case for a middleweight title shot by becoming the first man to ever knock “Hendo” out. Light heavyweight Rafael Cavalcante rejuvenated his career with a first-round destruction of Igor Pokrajac, while Brandon Thatch and Jeremy Stephens both notched explosive knockouts to heighten their respective profiles in the welterweight and featherweight divisions.
After this past week’s solid offerings I thought I would play matchmaker and take a look at the Top 5 fights to make after UFC Fight Nights 31 and 32.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports
5. Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens
Bermudez continued to enjoy success in the 145-pound weight class as he defeated Steven Siler in a thrilling three-round affair in Kentucky. He’s now won five straight fights and just has a knack of being in entertaining fights. Stephens emerged as a force in the division by stunning Rony Jason in just 40 seconds in front of Jason’s Brazilian faithful with a devastating head kick. He’s 2-0 since moving down from lightweight. Stephens has an impressive knockout pedigree while Bermudez puts on a show each time out. It’s a matchup that would produce fireworks.
4. Rustam Khabilov vs. Jamie Varner/Pat Healy Winner
Khabilov passed a major test with a hard-fought decision win over veteran Jorge Masvidal at Fight for the Troops 3. Khabilov is 3-0 in the UFC and has already produced some highlight-reel suplexes and kicks in his relatively short tenure. He’s ready for another step up and with Pat Healy and Jamie Varner set to meet at UFC on Fox 9, the winner of that fight would be a terrific test for him. Healy and Varner are both big lightweights and tough competitors who have been in with strong competition during their careers.
3. Brandon Thatch vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Not surprisingly, UFC President Dana White is gushing over Thatch. “Rukus” is 2-0 in the UFC after he destroyed Paulo Thiago in Brazil with a devastating knee to the body. Thatch has 11 victories all by first-round knockouts. He’s trained with welterweight champion Georges St.Pierre and is clearly ready for a step up in competition. Kim is also coming off an explosive effort as he shocked Erick Silva in his last fight with a one-punch knockout in the second round of their spirited tussle at UFC Fight Night 29. Kim possesses tremendous grappling skills and would be a great test for Thatch as both men look to move up the 170-pound ladder.
2. Tim Kennedy vs. Michael Bisping
These two fighters have been involved in a trash-talking war on Twitter since Kennedy referenced a fight with Bisping after starching Rafael Natal at Fight for the Troops 3. Kennedy excelled in his first UFC main event and has been promised a major fight. Bisping has never ducked anybody and says he’s more than willing to meet Kennedy in April when he returns. “The Count” is recovering from an eye injury that took him out of his fight at UFC Fight Night 30 against Mark Munoz. Kennedy-Bisping would be a very meaningful matchup in the middleweight division and would have the potential to be an entertaining affair.
1. Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman/Anderson Silva 2 Winner
There simply can be no denying “The Phenom” his middleweight title shot after he became the first man to KO Dan Henderson. It was the first time Henderson had been stopped via strikes in his legendary 40-fight career. Belfort has been a destructive force since a loss in a light heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones, as he has now finished Henderson, Luke Rockhold and Bisping with remarkably placed head kicks. Belfort’s recent run would make him a formidable challenge to either Weidman or “The Spider.” Belfort has always wanted a rematch against Silva after being knocked out in spectacular fashion at UFC 126 in their 185-pound title affair.