UFC 147 saw the promotion return to Brazil, this time emanating from Estádio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte. While there was great consternation about the line-up of fights prior to the card, few were left complaining after several exciting bouts delivered. Now that the dust form the weekend has settled, it’s time to look at some viable options for the headlining fighters on the card.
Rich Franklin: While “Ace’s” rematch was contested at a catchweight, it is realistically his first bout en route to the middleweight division. The former champion stated after the bout that he’s interested in making another title run, as ill-advised as that may seem considering his history with Anderson Silva. Well, Franklin is in luck as no single division was hit harder by the recent slew of injuries plaguing the UFC.
While it’s a bit of a jumbled mess at the top of the division, it’s obvious who is working toward a title, and there is no lack of options at this point. Brian Stann, Alan Belcher, Vitor Belfort, and Michael Bisping are all currently on the inactive list. The timeline for Ace to meet with either of these men is there, but what seems the most promising is a middleweight tilt with the rejuvenated Alan Belcher or the perennial Michael Bisping.
Best case scenario: Michael Bisping or Alan belcher
Wanderlei Silva: While coming up on the losing side of things, it was a spirited performance by the beloved “Ax Murderer,” who was the only man to come anywhere near finishing the bout. The former Pride middleweight king has stated that he would still like to face Vitor Belfort, his original opponent for this weekend. Unfortunately for Wandy, Dana White says that fight is off the table.
We know Wanderlei and we know where he is in his career, his next opponent will be someone with cache. An ideal fight would be the against winner of the Yushin Okami vs Rousimar Palhares bout that was recently announced. Despite winning that bout, the victor of that bout would still have a deflating loss in recent memory and battling Wanderlei for an attempt to stay relavent in the Middleweight division seems ideal.
Ideally: The winner of Yushin Okami vs Rousimar Palhares
Fabricio Werdum: After blasting Roy Nelson with his newfound muay Thai skills for 15 minutes in February, the Brazilian jiu jitsu master did the exact same thing to Mike Russow, albeit in a more impressive fashion in about 2.5 minutes. “Vai Cavalo” says he wants the man who bounced him from the UFC in 2008, UFC Champion Junior Dos Santos. Unfortunately for Werdum, JDS has his plate full for quite some time with Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem both in line for title shots.
As I said after UFC 146, Frank Mir has become the man to beat to earn a title shot. While Mir is coming off a loss to Dos Santos, he stands in much the same space as Wanderlei Silva where the winner vs winner, loser vs loser idea is a moot point. Mir has a name and is a strong draw in the division, despite the fact that another title run is not all too realistic. A Werdum-Mir match-up serves as a perfect litmus test for where Werdum stands in the division. Not to mention, their bjj credentials and improved kickboxing abilities make for a promising match-up.
Next Up: Frank Mir
Mike Russow: Roy Nelson has already thrown out a challenge to Russow, with the special stipulation that the loser drop to light heavyweight, as absurd as that ideal seems. Unfortunately, the Chicago native is not one of the men beyond the loser vs. loser stigma. A match-up with Lavar Johnson or Brendan Schaub makes the most sense at this point.
Next up: Lavar Johnson or Brendan Schaub