MMA Analysis: Where Do Stars of UFC on FX 1 Go from Here?

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Top-to-bottom UFC’s first offering on the FX network was exciting with the judges only being needed twice on this ten-bout bill. The partisan crowd at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee were treated to a bit of everything tonight with a smorgasbord of submissions, deadly elbows and a big upset in one of the better free televised events in a long while.

As always after each major event I take a look at the winners of the top of tonight’s feature and see what comes next for them in their respective weight class.

Jim Miller:

The most accomplished member of the AMA Fight Club showed off why he’s still a player at 155-pounds defeating explosive striker Melvin Guillard despite being beaten on early by the Blackzillian team member.

Miller capitalized on the first mistake he made giving up his back when scrambling to return to his feet and secured a rear-naked-choke that forced him to fall backwards while he pulled on it with as much torque as possible.

Miller is seemingly a fight away from challenging for the lightweight title so a high-level challenger is warranted. Kenny Florian in discussion with his broadcast partner Jon Anik suggested pairing Miller with rising Brazilian prospect Edson Barboza who is fresh off the heels of his early knockout of the year nomination.

Personally, I think Barboza is a great prospect but stepping up to face Jim Miller is a huge leap up from the Anthony Njokuani’s and Terry Etim’s of the world, a more appropriate fight would be a clash with the younger of the unpredictable Diaz brothers, Nate.

Diaz just collected the biggest win of his career when he blistered the face of Greg Jackson product Donald Cerrone in a three-round beat down showing off brilliant hands and putting an emphatic end to his six-bout unbeaten streak.

After knocking off the person who was considered to be next in line after one of the better years any mixed martial artist has put on that puts him at the top of the pecking order, Miller is right there with him so why not pair them up.

Josh Neer:

“Bang” Ludwig has been on top of the world since he received word that his 6.06 second smashing of Jonathan Goulet is officially recognize as the UFC’s fastest knockout in history and looked to continue on his journey up the ranks before he was stopped by Josh Neer.

Following a brief exchange in their kick boxing match that pundits expected Neer chose to take it to the floor with a trip and while his opponent struggled to scramble to his feet he fell straight into a modified guillotine choke.

“The Dentist” is in his fourth stint in the elite mixed martial arts organization and was counted out by most heading into this bout but made them all take notice that the 44-fight veteran is here to stay.

Neer has proven himself as a tough test for anyone in the welterweight division and would be a good time to pair him up with a hot prospect to see where they place in the 170-pound ranks.

Lance Benoist might look inexperienced from his 6-0 record but he also had an unbeaten 14-0-1 record as an amateur before jumping in with both feet and  last time we saw him he edged ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ veteran Matt Riddle that earned him $65,000 for the ‘fight of the night’ bonus.

Both men bring all sorts of action to the cage and would determine if the newcomer can hang with the big boys in the division somewhere down the line.

Mike Easton:

Easton has long been considered a future player in the 135-pound division and he proved it again tonight with his 15 minute battle with promotional newcomer Jared Papazian pushing his record to 12-1 with two of those wins coming in the octagon.

Papazian was a hot prospect stepping in on short notice for this bout and delivered with an exciting battle with Easton getting the upper hand on all three score cards due to his aggressive striking game and ability to work from the clinch and do damage with his body shots.

Easton is climbing the ladder very quickly and is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the developing bantamweight class, pairing him up with some fellow winning 135-pounders would be his best next step.

Ideally, on the Japan card there is a clash between former title challenger Takeya Mizugaki and Chris Cariaso is set, the winner of that bout would be a great, entertaining fight and see where everyone stands right now.

Pat Barry:

“HD” Barry put on the performance everyone expected, apart from the moments when he defended submissions and regained his composure – The Death Clutch product had the obvious chink in his armor and has been showing signs of improvements on it.

After battling out of Christian Morecraft’s submission holds he caught with his a left-hook that put his lights out then followed up with a hammer fist before the bout was stopped.

Barry is exactly the sort of fighter that they want on these type of FX or Fuel cards and I would expect him to be paired up with another heavyweight fight that will be sure to deliver fireworks, a clash with Mark Hunt for instance if he got past Cheick Kongo would be appropriate.

Hunt is a former K-1 world champion and has shown improvements on the rest of his game despite seemingly being in the twilight of his career. Against Ben Rothwell he showed drastic leaps in his wrestling and cardiovascular fitness so the New Zealander would pose a real threat to Barry if he could get past the French striker in his return to Japan.

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