Diego Sanchez, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Shane Carwin are currently number one contenders in their respective weight classes. Who are the next title shots going to after these guys and in the other divisions?
Diego Sanchez currently is set to take on B.J. Penn at UFC 107 on December 12th. After Sanchez the division is a little bit jumbled. The list of those standing in line would have to be Gray Maynard, Frank Edgar, and Tyson Griffin. Those would be the obvious next in line guys. Frank Edgar is set to face Kurt Pellegrino at TUF 10 Finale, which does not seem like a number one contender bout though the winner of that bout will be right a top the divison. Following those guys you have guys like Florian, Guida, Jim Miller, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk and even Nate Diaz rounding out the top 10. It would really make sense to have Tyson Griffin and Gray Maynard fight for the number one contender spot. The problem is Griffin and Maynard are teammates, however they are not as adamant about not fighting one another as the AKA welterweights or the Blackhouse Light Heavyweights (Machida and Anderson Silva). The other problem with either Griffin or Maynard is that neither are a marquee name. I would say Maynard has a slight edge of Griffin to get the shot. So out of the before mentioned guys Maynard is probably next in line, but he may need one more win to get the title shot. I do not see any contenders dropping down from 170 lbs though Koscheck has threatened a drop but, not rule out a big name signing. Takanori Gomi or Gilbert Melendez possibly. They may still need a fight to get a title shot, but that would help. For nwo we will go with Mayanrd as next in line.
Georges St. Pierre is currently sidelined with a groin injury, but he will be ready to go again in February. The problem is that a number one contender is not waiting nor does there seem to be a number one contender match in waiting. Mike Swick and Martin Kampmann were supposed to fight for the title shot, but Swick was forced out. Swick is now ready to go and he could fight before the year is over for the number one contender spot or since Kampmann lost to Daley at UFC 103 Swick could just inherit the number one contender status and fight St. Pierre in February. I wouldn’t mind that. However, others a top the divison are Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, and even newcomer Paul Daley. Fitch is set to welcome Almeida to the division in November. Alves is rumored to be taking on Paulo Thiago in December. Condit is 1-1 in the UFC and needs a big win before he is in the mix. Koscheck is calling for Hughes and the winner of that one could get in line behind Swick. My guess is Swick gets the shot in February or fights Daley in England this November for the shot.
A week ago the division was jumbled. Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt both had a case for the title shot. People had discussed Georges St. Pierre moving up to fight Anderson Silva. Yushin Okami is still in the mix. However, Vitor Belfort is the new number one contender at middleweight and the greatest threat to Anderson Silva yet. In fact, I think there is an easy scenario at middleweight. Line up Vitor Belfort and have him fight Anderson in December or January and around the same time pit Dan Henderson against Nate Marquardt and the winner of that one will get the next crack at the belt. I do not know Henderson’s contract status currently or if he is keen on the Marquardt fight, but that makes most sense….really.
Machida is the king of the division. He is set to take on “Shogun” in October, but after that what happens. UFC 107 was suppsoed to feature a number one contender bout between Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson, but Rampage’s involvement with the new A-Team movie has put that fight on hold until March 2010 or even later. I see two options. The winner of the Brandon Vera vs. Randy Couture fight at UFC 105 or the winner of the Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Luis Cane fight at UFC 106. If Machida were to lose to Shogun we could see Anderson Silva get that fight. I think Tito Ortiz has the marketability to get a shot, but he would have to win against Coleman and probably win one more. So…there is no clear contender in line now though 3-4 guys could earn that shot with a win in their next fight.
Shane Carwin is next up for Lesnar. For the first time in a long time there are several potential contenders to the heavyweight crown. After Carwin gets his crack it is unclear who is next. Cain velasquez was going to take on Carwin in a number one contender match, before UFC brass decided to just give the title shot to Carwin. Therefore it would seem logical that the UFC gave the next shot to the winner of the Velasquez vs. Rothwell fight. Plus, Velasquez has a big win over Cheick Kongo to his credit. Also, some could make a case for Anotnio Rodrigo Nogueira who is coming off of an impressive win over Randy Couture at UFC 102. However, I think Nog would need one more win and a re-match with Mir would be ideal. Mir is rumored to be fighting Kongo in December, but I think it would be better if that idea was scrapped that the UFC matched Mir vs. Nogueira and Kongo vs. Dos Santos. The winner of those fights would be high up the contender list. However, I do not know if any of those guys would leap from Cain Velasquez should he get past Rothwell at UFC 104.