UFC New Jersey was a card received with mixed emotions. It got off to a rather slow start, but picked up as the main card produced a mixture of upsets and dominations. In the Main Event, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson demolished Ryan Bader in less than two minutes and elsewhere Sage Northcutt rather shockingly picked up the first loss of his pro career. Let’s discuss what should be next for the following eight UFC on Fox 18 fighters.
Anthony Johnson should fight – Daniel Cormier/Jon Jones winner
It’s inevitable. After taking out Alexander Gustaffson and now Ryan Bader, Johnson only has one man left to face, and that man is Jon Jones. Despite Daniel Cormier coming out the winner of their bout in May, many believe Anthony Johnson is a bigger threat to Jon Jones than DC himself. Very few have been able to handle the power of ‘Rumble’ thus far, even Cormier commented on how shook up he was after taking a punch from him back at UFC 187.
Ryan Bader should fight – Glover Teixeira
Title aspirations seem further away now for Ryan Bader. A devastating first round loss is surely going to set him back in the pile of title challengers.
A man who has always contended near the top, Glover Teixeira, is coming off a win over Ovince Saint-Preux back in August and looked impressive in doing so.
Prior to that, he suffered two losses to the hands of Jon Jones and Phil Davis, not to be sniffed at by any means.
Both men are in a similar position in the division and Bader, who has seen more success as of late, will be willing to avenge a KO loss to Glover back in 2013.
Ben Rothwell placed himself in title contention with an impressive finish
Ben Rothwell should fight – Fabricio Werdum/Stipe Miocic winner
The Werdum vs Miocic fight hasn’t been announced yet, and Cain Velasquez vs Werdum could be more of a possibility if both men heal up quickly.
But it’s likely that Dana White and the UFC Brass will have given Velasquez his last chance after 196 as he has a plethora of fight pull outs in his arsenal thus far. I expect them to go with Miocic next, and if so I think Ben Rothwell has done enough to be #1 contender.
Finishes over Overeem, Barnett and Mitrione is a streak as impressive as any other in the division right now.
Josh Barnett should fight – Junior Dos Santos
Both fighters are coming off tough losses inside the past month, but shouldn’t be too physically drained from either bout to take much time off.
JDS didn’t get in to his usual rhythm last time round against Alistair Overeem and Barnett had good momentum heading in to last weekend’s card. It’s the perfect fight for where their careers are at right now.
JDS vs Barnett makes all the sense in the world right now
Jimmy Rivera should fight – Takeya Mizugaki
It looks like the UFC are putting a lot of promotion in to New Jersey native Rivera. Placing him on the main card was a bold move but it paid off with an impressive win over Iuri Alcantara.
It’s hard to know what’s next for Rivera, do you give him a Top 10 fighter after beating a top 15 guy or do you wait and give him an unranked prospect considering only has three fights thus far in the UFC.
In a division that needs contenders, I think a fight with Mizugaki would be perfect to determine whether he could hang in the Top 10. Mizugaki is coming off a decision win to George Roop in September and is currently ranked at #9.
Bryan Barbarena should fight – John Howard
Many were shocked to see under the radar Barbarena pull off a win over heavy favorite Sage Northcutt on Saturday.
But there were still a good percentage who believed that eventuality was a huge possibility. Barbarena is a tough all-rounder training out of a strong camp in the MMA Lab with the likes of Benson Henderson.
His win over Northcutt, while it may bring him so notoriety, isn’t title contention caliber by any means. If he stays at Welterweight though, I’d like to see him fight a veteran in John Howard. Howard is coming off a KO loss to Tim Means in December.
Beauty vs the Beast? It’s hard to find a better opponent for Sage Northcutt than Gruetzemacher
Sage Northcutt should fight – Chris Gruetzemacher
I believe Sage Northcutt belongs in the Lightweight division, as long as the cut is not too much for him. Taking the fight at WW seemed more suiting to his short notice opponent Barbarena rather than a permanent move to the division.
Let’s not forget Northcutt is only 19, so his body could develop and outgrow cutting to the 155 pound limit. But for now, a fight against TUF 22 contestant Gruetzemacher would be a nice return to the division.
Sage’s limited ground game was exposed at the hands of Barbarena on Saturday, but I feel if Sage can work on his takedown defence and keep the fight standing, his kicking game is second to none.
Gruetzemacher is not a pushover by any means though, and like Barbarena trains out of the MMA Lab. We could start a mini Sage vs MMA Lab war here.
Tarec Saffiedine should fight – Gunnar Nelson
Neither fighter is booked, and with a WW division that is for the majority matched, this fight makes a lot of sense. Saffiedine was coming off a long layoff, since September 2014, but looked steady in his return outpointing Jake Ellenberger to a decision.
Nelson is coming off a dominating loss to Demain Maia which is sure to be a learning curve for the Icelandic grappler.
A win for either men would propel them back in to title contention and could be a solid headliner for the upcoming European cards in April and May – in Zagreb and Rotterdam respectively. Both men are European so there’s your reason, Joe Silva.
Do you agree with these choices? Leave your comments below!