Top 5 Fights To Make In The Aftermath Of UFC 168

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Why these five fights make the most sense after UFC 168

Chris Weidman
Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports

The UFC’s year-end finale in Las Vegas produced plenty of exciting finishes, but will unfortunately always be remembered for the horrific leg injury suffered by Anderson Silva in his failed quest to regain the middleweight title from Chris Weidman. Whether we will ever see “The Spider” inside the Octagon again after UFC 168 is a major storyline to follow moving forward. The legendary 38-year old Brazilian underwent surgery on his broken left leg that was suffered after a second round leg kick was checked by Weidman. He’s looking at a 3-6 month recovery. For a second straight time, Weidman likely won’t receive the credit he’s deserving of because of the freakish and gruesome end to the fight. Weidman seemed to picking up where he left off at UFC 162 before the fight came to a screeching halt.

Ronda Rousey continued her dominance as the women’s bantamweight champ and saw a second and third round for the first time in her career before utilizing her patented armbar to remain undefeated. Travis Browne emerged as a major force in the heavyweight division with a tremendous performance against a proven veteran. Dustin Poirier and Jim Miller improved their stocks in the featherweight and lightweight divisions, while Michael Johnson continued his positive career upswing with a second straight solid effort.

As always, there were other competitors who saw their careers take significant hits because of negative results on the card. Veteran Chris Leben’s UFC tenure may be over after getting stopped by Uriah Hall, while Josh Barnett’s heavyweight title hopes were derailed in a major way. Miesha Tate gave a solid account of herself, but failed to get her revenge on Rousey, while former TUF winner Diego Brandao failed in the biggest test of his career.

As I always like to do after a major UFC event, I will take a look at the top five fights to make in the aftermath of UFC 168.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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5. Jim Miller vs. Edson Barboza

Jim Miller
Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports

Miller picked up a much-needed victory as he registered a first-round submission victory over Fabricio Camoes in Las Vegas. It solidified his top-10 ranking at 155 pounds as the veteran continued to show that he’s a tough assignment for anyone. Miller is always traditionally involved in entertaining fights, and there’s no doubt a battle against Barboza would continue that trend. Barboza survived a rocky first round in his most recent battle against Danny Castillo at UFC on FOX 9 before rallying to win a hard-fought majority decision. Barboza definitely has dynamic skills, and a fight against Miller would tell us whether he is indeed top-10 material.

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4. Dustin Poirier vs. Cub Swanson 2

Dustin Poirier
Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports

Poirier turned in a stellar performance in his first-round dismantling of Diego Brandao at UFC 168. He’s rebounded with impressive back-to-back wins after losing to Swanson. Both are legitimate top-five featherweights pursuing title hopes in 2014. Poirier has revenge on his mind and Swanson is in need of a major fight when he returns. The rematch would be likely be another thriller, and the winner would find themselves behind only Chad Mendes as title contenders in the 145-pound weight class.

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3. Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum

Travis Browne
Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports

Browne’s stock is through the roof after a becoming the first fighter since 2006 to stop Josh Barnett via strikes. A well-placed knee to the face followed by brutal standing elbows spelled the end in just 60 seconds. Werdum is on a strong roll since his return to the promotion and had been waiting patiently for a title shot against heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. A shoulder injury for the champ has changed those plans, and so Browne vs. Werdum would produce a very deserving next title challenger for when Velasquez is ready to return.

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2. Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann

Ronda Rousey
Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports

Whether you like her or not, it’s hard not to admire the skill set that the women’s bantamweight champion brings to the table. Rousey turned in a dominant performance and ended her feud against Miesha Tate at UFC 168 in emphatic fashion with a third-round submission win to stay unbeaten. Clearly, UFC President Dana White thinks highly of “Rowdy” as she will make a quick turnaround to face McMann in the main event of UFC 170. McMann is also undefeated in her career and is a former Olympic medalist in wrestling. She made a successful Octagon debut back at UFC 159 when she stopped Sheila Gaff. Her grappling skills will be a good test against Rousey’s judo background.

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1. Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort

Chris Weidman
Jayne Kamin-Oncea USA TODAY Sports

Weidman stayed unbeaten with his second-round victory over Anderson Silva due to an injury stoppage at UFC 168. While he showed the skill to check the challenger’s leg kick, the win won’t be remembered as a dominant performance by the champ because of the horrific broken leg that ended Silva’s night and possibly his career. Weidman will truly receive the praise he deserves if he can derail Belfort’s title hopes. The veteran Brazilian had a sensational 2013 with three dominant stoppages, becoming the first man to ever stop Dan Henderson via strikes. It's a no-brainer that Weidman vs. Belfort is already set for 2014.