Ryan Bader file photo: Sherdog.com
Ryan Bader vs. Rich Franklin
Based on what we saw from Bader against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the idea of matching him against Jon Jones seems less than ideal. It’s certainly no knock on Bader, but he’s simply not as far along in his development as Jones. And who is?
Sacrificing prospects against one another is a losing game all around, especially when the UFC has nearly every light heavyweight of note under contract. Among them is the durable Franklin. A southpaw with underrated striking technique and an overall level of versatility that eludes most light heavyweights, “Ace” is exactly the challenge Bader needs.
A single overhand right fastball from Bader and Franklin is going to sleepy town, but the same was said about Chuck Liddell when he fought the reformed school teacher. It also bears noting that Nogueira was just an extra gear away from dragging Bader into some deep water. Franklin might be the guy to finish what the Brazilian started.
Chris Lytle vs. Dong Hyun Kim
The classic “prospect vs. veteran” matchmaking angle is what Kim needs now more than anything else. The South Korean ground-and-pound ace fights with savvy that belies his relative inexperience against world-class competition.
Lytle fights with a masochistic edge that makes a mockery of his 52 fights worth of experience, but hiding behind that seeming recklessness is a skilled, dynamic fighter. Gameness is part and parcel of Lytle’s recent renaissance, and, if nothing else, he’ll make life hard on Kim any which way he possibly can. How this fight plays out is a plotline that needs resolution.
Evan Dunham vs. Jim Miller
Dunham should not be held responsible for the reprehensible judging that robbed him of a star-making win over Sean Sherk. A fight with fellow contender Miller is not only appropriate but the flat-out right thing to do. Poor judging, such as Cecil Peoples and Glenn Trowbridge displayed at UFC 119, should not be impacting the narrative of MMA.
Matt Mitrione vs. Christian Morecraft
Morecraft did far better against Stefan Struve at UFC 117 than anyone expected, and Mitrione has exceeded just about every expectation possible by carving out a spot in the UFC. Defensive wrestling is the hurdle Mitrione must clear if he’s to advance any further, and Morecraft’s ground-and-pound would make for a nice barometer of Mitrione’s ability to grasp the more challenging aspects of grappling.
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. A Sports Psychologist
The Octagon is for fighting, not chatting.
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