MMA Analysis: What's Next for UFC 136 Winners?

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UFC 136 went down this past weekend in Houston and by all accounts it was a pretty decent card.  Granted, “pretty decent” is far from the epitome of kudos but all in all the card delivered in terms of action, excitement, and even some drama sprinkled in to make witnessing it in a bar full of drinking patrons that much more enjoyable.  But, all that UFC action leads to some pretty pertinent questions.  Chiefly among most fight fans are the upcoming prospects for the night’s notable winners.  So with that being said, let’s look at what may be next for this weekend’s winners.

Frankie Edgar

I’m actually ashamed to admit that I thought Maynard would come into this rematch and simply destroy Edgar.  Yeah, I know, I failed to give the UFC lightweight champion his props.  Then again, it seems that many people were sleeping on the Jersey native who has done nothing but beat the pdds his whole career.  Simply put, Edgar’s knockout of Maynard has to be one of the most definitive statements a champion can make in a fight.  Needless to say I’m pretty sure that Edgar silenced the haters with his gutsy performance.  Hell, I know I won’t doubt the kid again.

So who’s next for the champion?  ESPN’s Brett Okamoto has a pretty good post on possible contenders and I’m included to agree that the most logical fight for Edgar and the UFC is against from WEC champion Ben Henderson.  While I was one of the guys screaming that Jim Miller deserves a shot at the belt, following his loss to Henderson this bout makes the most sense.  Sure, Clay Guida is waiting in the wings and is coming off a huge victory over Anthony Pettis, but given Henderson’s marketability and the fact that such a bout would again cast Edgar as an underdog (a role that seems to motivate him) I think it would be a natural fit for early 2012. 

Jose Aldo

Damn, you have to feel bad for Kenny Florian.  This is a guy who does everything right, takes no shortcuts, and trains his ass off and yet he keeps coming up short in his biggest fights.  Then again, he was facing one of the greatest fighters in the sport right now in Jose Aldo so it’s not as if “KenFlo” lost to an absolute scrub.  While it wasn’t Aldo’s most impressive performance, his fight with Florian Saturday proved that he was able to make the necessary adjustments when needed to grind out a grueling fight.  As Aldo continues to beat recognizable names in the Octagon the general populace may soon begin to echo the sentiments of the die-hard MMA fans that have long-held Aldo up on a pedestal. 

It appears that there is already talk of fellow WEC transplant Chad Mendes getting a crack at Aldo and his bantamweight title.  While that looks like it would be a fantastic fight on paper (the wrestling of Mendes vs. the striking of Aldo) it looks like UFC president Dana White is holding on to hope that his subtle nudges of Frankie Edgar cutting down to 145lbs.  White has come out and said that if Edgar should move down to bantamweight he would get an immediate title shot against Aldo.  Personally, I don’t think Edgar moves down.  He likes not having to cut weight and he’s the freaking champion at 155lbs.  Would you move down if you didn’t have to?  No, me neither.  Which leaves us with the consolation prize of an Aldo-Mendes fight, though, truth be told that’s not bad for a contingency plan.

Chael Sonnen

I can neither confirm nor deny that Chael Sonnen may have been quoted as saying, “Whatcha going to do when Chael Sonnen, and the Sonnenmaniacs, come for you brotha!”  Actually, I made that last quote up, but it’s not like it was that far off the mark of Sonnen’s actual post-fight quote, or post-fight interview for that matter.  In dominating game but out-gunned Brian Stann, Sonnen got on the microphone and basically challenged Anderson Silva to a “loser-leaves-town” match.  For a fighter who has made a career out of saying the most outlandish stuff imaginable, this verbal assault took the cake.  Silva, who was in attendance, seems to be getting more and more annoyed at Sonnen and his tactics.  Of course, Sonnen is keenly aware of this and using this as leverage to get a rematch with the champion. 

Funny thing about Sonnen and his smear campaign is that it seems to be influencing White.  Whereas White had been slow to sanction a rematch of the 2010 bout that saw Silva almost lose his title but with Sonnen’s constant campaigning it appears that the UFC prez may be warming up to the idea.  In fact, it appears almost certain that Silva’s next bout will be a rematch with Sonnen sometime in 2012.  Though, Dan Henderson’s imminent return to the UFC may spoil that.  Still, if you ask me, the UFC has to make the rematch now while the buzz is considerable. 

Nam Phan

Say what you will about Nam Phan but the dude comes to fight.  Hell, his “Fight of the Night” war with Leonard Garcia not only righted the wrong from the initial encounter but showed the world that we may have a new brawler to love.  Actually, calling Phan a brawler is a disservice to his skill set, but it’s hard to expound upon Phan’s technical mastery when he’s winging bombs with murderous intentions.  Clearly, Phan is not ready for the uppermost echelon of lightweight fighters but another credible victory over an upper-mid tear fighter (Dennis Siver?) could put him in talks to face a top-ten fighter. 

Joe Lauzon

Hailing from neighboring Louisiana probably led Melvin Guillard to think that he would have a homecoming of sorts against the BJJ whiz Joe Lauzon.  In fact, somebody must have forgotten to explain to Guillard that Lauzon was not there to show up on his personal highlight reel.  Guillard’s overconfidence cost his dearly when J-Lau caught him in a rear naked choke.  While it may be one of Lauzon’s most important wins it’s unclear as to where the UFC has him in their lightweight title picture.  While I don’t think that he is top-ten ready, he does present a difficult outing for any of the mid-tier fighters in the division.  Maybe matching him up with a Jim Miller or Clay Guida could give him the pop he needs to be considered a viable contender.