UFC 148 marked the first of what should be many "International Fight Week" celebrations in Vegas during the 4th of July holiday week. The weigh-in itself saw over 10,000 fans show up, a record that should hold up for a very long time. The hype leading up to the event featuring what was dubbed as the greatest rematch of all time, however, could not have been measured on any scale. So what's next for Anderson, Chael and the rest of the gang that left it all in the cage this past weekend? Let's have a one way discussion, (or, as always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below).
• Anderson Silva
- The 10-time defending UFC middleweight champion could retire tomorrow and he would go down as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Luckily for us as fans - he's not. At the ripe young age of 37, it doesn't appear that Silva has slowed down at all as he heads into what will likely be the final handful of fights of his unbelievable career. When you're the best in the world you have a target on your back. Michael Bisping claims that he can put on a better performance than Sonnen did against Silva (yet he doesn't say that he can beat him). Strikeforce middleweight title holder Luke Rockhold has been quoted as calling Silva's win over Sonnen this past weekend a dirty one. While Rockhold will remain stuck in Strikeforce purgatory for the time being, Bisping is as worthy a 185'er as any to get the next crack at the "King of MMA". As a fan of the sport it's the match up I'd like to see most on the current UFC middleweight roster.
You also have to like Mark Munoz getting his shot if he can finish the undefeated Hofstra product Chris Weidman in impressive fashion during the mid-week at UFC on Fuel TV 4. Who is most likely to get the next shot at Silva though? He'll make his UFC debut at UFC 149 on July 21st against Tim Boetsch. If Hector Lombard destroys Boetsch like he's supposed to - making him undefeated in his last 26 fights - he will likely take on Silva for the belt at the year-end Vegas card.
• Chael Sonnen
- Sonnen had his two shots at the middleweight title and he blew both of them. It's not likely that he'll get a third unless someone else ends up with the strap before Sonnen himself retires. Well, let's just assume he won't win his appeal in regards to what may or may not have been a knee to the face of a downed opponent. So who's next for the gangster from the mean streets of West Linn?
Really, who hasn't Sonnen made verbal jabs at in the middleweight division or any other division for that matter? You have Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, or the school teacher Rich Franklin? Take your pick. Belfort and Silva have to be chomping at the bit for a piece of Sonnen.
Belfort has the ability to spazz out and TKO anyone with a quickness. If Sonnen really wants to see what illegal blows look like, signing a contract with Belfort may be his best bet.
A fight between Sonnen and Wanderlei gives Brazil another chance to root against their biggest villain and Sonnen a chance for his first win over someone with the last name of Silva.
The most intriguing of all could be Rich Franklin. If Franklin wants it, he deserves a shot at Chael after doing the promotion a solid by filling in on short notice for Belfort at UFC 147 in Brazil. With a win over a top five guy, it could be Franklin getting a third fight against Silva to close out his career before Sonnen gets his. Although you have to like Sonnen in this one if you saw the way Forrest Griffin's used his wrestling against Franklin when they met at UFC 126. The Franklin we saw against Wanderlei though looked like a guy who was having fun out there. This Rich Franklin, heading back down to 185, maybe he does have another little run in him.
Plenty more on Griffin, Mendes, Guillard and others after the break.
• Forrest Griffin
- The emotional rollercoaster that is Forrest Griffin still remains at the top of what used to be the most talent rich weight class in the sport. After taking a unanimous decision over Tito Ortiz, and stealing Tito's moment after the fight, Griffin unlike Ortiz will live to fight again. You have to forgive Forrest, he's just a little crazy is all. He should be rewarded with a "Mauler" for his tireless performance against Ortiz. You have the like the size match up here. The work ethic and ruthless leg kicks of the former champ against the fancy footwork and power precision striking of Gustafsson spells five-round main event on any FOX card.
• Chad Mendes
- After landing the solar plexus shot heard throughout the featherweight division on Cody McKenzie, Mr. Mendes will be given an opponent who may be able to hang with him for a minute. Ricardo Lamas is riding high after his upset victory over Hatsu Hioki in Jersey last month. This fight makes all the sense in the world for both guys right now.
• Melvin Guillard
- Guillard showed some patience in his dominant victory over Fabricio Camoes this weekend. While Guillard has been clamoring for a rematch with Joe Lauzon I don't believe he deserves it at this point. Lauzon beat him fair and square regardless of what Guillard has to say. It's understandable that Guillard wants a chance to redeem himself after that embarrassing loss but he'll have to win a couple more, and see Lauzon drop one or two more to earn it. Mark Bocek or Mac Danzig both make for quality opponents on any free tv main card for "The Young Assassin" and his quest back into the top 10 at 155.
• Cung Le -
Cung Le vs. Rich Franklin was originally tapped for the main card of UFC 148 before all the injuries and shuffling took place. Now that both fighters are coming off unanimous decision victories it makes all the sense in the world that these two take care of what Joe Silva had just recently planned for them. C.B. Dollaway would also be a favorable match up for Cung Le at 185 if the promotion would like to go that route.
• Tito Ortiz -
Cameos in network tv shows and roles in straight to dvd/blu-ray rentals. Also, being able to provide for his family and enjoy all the money he has earned as a great ambassador for the sport.
• Mike Easton
- After defeating a tough bantamweight like Ivan Menjivar that makes it 8 in a row for "The Hulk". Former #1 contender Scotty "Young Guns" Jorgensen finds himself at a crossroads dropping his last two. This would be a great test for Easton and also a great chance for Jorgensen to get himself back into the thick of things. This match up would likely earn either one or both of these fighters a performance bonus.