When I think of the most entertaining cards top to bottom so far this year UFC Live 4: Kongo vs. Barry and now UFC Live 5: Hardy vs. Lytle come to mind. These Versus (NBC Sports Network)/ Facebook cards are on a hot streak reminiscent of those good old WEC cards we became accustomed to on those Thursday nights. Last night we saw some old WEC mainstays like Ben Henderson, Joseph Benavidez and Donald Cerrone all collect victories in entertaining fashion.
So whats next for these 3 and some of the rest of the main cast of characters from last nights madness? Lets take a gander.
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Before we get to Smooth, Joe B-Wan and Cowboy it’d just be disrespectful not to honor the brightest star of last night’s show. Chris Lytle’s future won’t involve competing in Mixed Martial Arts, he’s done enough of that to last two lifetimes. He’ll likely continue his duties as a Firefighter and even has his eyes set on a seat as a State Representative in Indiana. What’s most important to Lytle though is having more time to spend with his family. This 36-year-old now former Mixed Martial Arts and Professional Boxer continues to add to a resume that would command Superman’s respect all the while remaining one of the most soft-spoken and respected athletes around. Here’s to a great future for the gentleman they call “Lights Out”. You’ve entertained us more than we could have asked for as a fighter and I hope it wouldn’t be too much to ask of you to please share the secret of your relentless energy and exuberance with me one of these years.
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After a dominant performance over the newest “next in line for a title shot guy” at 155, Ben “Smooth” Henderson may be the new #1 Contender. A Title Eliminator against Clay Guida makes the most sense but according to “The Carpenter” he doesn’t think a fight with Bendo is necessary. Guida explained on the UFC Live post fight show last night that since he beat the fighter that bested Henderson for the WEC title that he should get a crack at the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard 3. Henderson on the other hand took the “I’ll take whoever Joe Silva and Dana White” give me route when interviewed after his victory over Jim Miller.
The Zuffa brass tend to reward fighters with Henderson’s attitude more often that not. Guida makes a good argument when he brings up taking out Pettis but in the what have you done for me lately world of the UFC Henderson’s ultra dominant win in all facets of the game looked ten times more impressive than the wrestling clinic Guida put on Pettis. Guida should have to defeat Henderson before getting a crack at the title or Henderson should even be given one immediately should Edgar or Maynard come out unscathed. With a dominant win over Jim Miller, a former WEC Lightweight Champion and coming out on top in 12 out of his last 13 bouts all on his resume, he’s more than earned Guida. If Guida doesn’t like that then just give him whoever the Lightweight Champion is after October 6th.
After avenging his loss to Jamie Varner in a FOTN performance last September, the only fighter this guy can’t beat seems to be the man we spoke of above. Right now is not the time for Henderson vs. Cerrone III, but should Henderson capture the belt sometime in 2012 and Cerrone continue his winning streak it’s a strong possibility. For now a fight against BJJ Black Belt Rafael dos Anjos may be the best bet for Cerrone. The dangerous Brazilian is coming off a monster KO victory over former top contender George Sotiropoulos at UFC 132.
What’s next for Benavidez? A spot on a UFC Main Card one would hope! Everyone at 135 has to be hoping for the UFC to introduce its 125 division soon so they can stop taking beatings from a fighter in Benavidez who’s a bit undersized for the Bantamweight division. A title shot in the near future is out of the question unless current champ Dominick Cruz drops the belt to Mighty Mouse this October since Cruz has already decisioned Benavidez twice. With Dana White hinting that the Flyweight division won’t be introduced until early 2012 it would appear that Benavidez has at least one more fight left as a Bantam. If that is indeed the case, Scott Jorgensen or Brad Pickett seems logical for Benavidez next. As it stands now though these two already have opponents lined up for the fall so unless an unfortunate injury occurs these are both unlikely opponents for Benavidez in 2011. A fight against the fast rising Michael MacDonald may be a little much for MacDonald this early in his career but also could be a learning experience for the promising young star.
A move to the UFC Featherweight Division!
With so many Lightweights either already set up with a dancing partner this fall or moving up or down in weight, finding an opponent for a Top 10 guy looking to get back on his feet isn’t as simple as it seems. Either welcoming Sean Sherk back to the Octagon this fall or the winner of the Dennis Siver vs. Sam Stout contest that is set to take place in late October looks nice for Jim Miller at this point of his still young and very impressive career.
What did we learn from Sadollah’s fight with Duane Ludwig? Well the The Ultimate Fighter season 7 winner can take a hell of a beating and he still has plenty to learn. With all 8 of his fights being in the UFC I think its unfair to look down on his 5-3 record. A match up against Matt Brown has crowd pleaser written all over it. Or even Dennis “Superman” Hallman with some decent shorts on could prove to be a stellar Prelim card bout. Either way Sadollah should and most likely will be given some leeway win or lose considering the uniqueness of his situation.
It seemed inevitable that Hardy would be toast after four straight losses in the UFC. Not the case. According to Lorenzo Fertitta Hardy will not be cut from the promotions current fight roster. That said Hardy did express interest in taking time off to “reinvent” himself at the post fight presser letting us know that his head may be elsewhere these days. I’m not sure how close Hardy and Matt Serra are but if Serra ever does decide to fight again this could be a great match up for both guys. If that’s out of the question some time off and a fight against Matthew Riddle whether he wins or loses against Lance Benoist next month in Nola. Riddle like Sadollah has never fought professionally outside of the UFC and could be just the type of match up to keep Hardy interested in fighting. These are two exciting personalities that belong together inside of the cage before Hardy is forced to be let go due to excessive losing. Hopefully for the UFC higher-ups and Hardy’s intense fan base that isn’t the case.
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