Jim Miller file photo: Sherdog.com
A serious night of action -- like the one that occurred at UFC Fight Night 22 on Sept. 15 in Austin, Texas -- requires some equally serious matchmaking for the future. Step aside, Joe Silva. I got this.
Nate Marquardt vs. Wanderlei Silva
It’s easy to forget that Silva beat Michael Bisping and has as legitimate a claim as anyone to middleweight title contention. Injuries have him on the shelf for the time being, but he will be back in early 2011. Pitting him against Marquardt would give the UFC another welcomed middleweight title challenger.
Besides the upcoming No. 1 contender’s match between Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami at UFC 122, there are no obvious title eliminators in the offing -- a problem this bout addresses nicely. As for the violence factor, Silva’s raging bull style strikes a nice counterpoint to Marquardt’s composed cage generalship, and if recent history serves as any indication, “The Great” brings his “A” game against Brazilians. See Wilson Gouveia, Demian Maia and Rousimar Palhares.
Considering both men are on the wrong side of 30, the time is now to slot one of them into a contender’s bout. Might as well make it happen by creating this high-stakes affair and cutting Silva loose like some sort of Brazilian kraken.
Charles Oliveira vs. Terry Etim
After collecting the most significant win of his career, on short notice no less, Oliveira would appear to be in perfect position for a title run. However, reality tells us he’s an incredibly talented 20-year-old who had to rally back against an out-of-shape and strategically challenged Efrain Escudero.
A step sideways or even a step backward would be the right move for him, especially since the UFC has already lined up Gray Maynard for a lightweight title shot, with Evan Dunham and George Sotiropoulos close behind. Etim can provide the appropriate sort of challenge for “Do Bronx,” as he shares the precocious Brazilian’s offensive flair but lacks the wrestling chops needed to neutralize him.
A murderer’s row of wrestlers awaits Oliveira, and the UFC would be doing itself a disservice by throwing him in against one of them. Besides, Etim is far from an automatic win for Oliveira -- especially if Oliveira does not start disavowing himself of the notion that jiu-jitsu is superior to the wrestling.
Jim Miller vs. Antonio McKee
This might be jumping the gun a bit since McKee’s UFC deal has not yet been finalized, but something tells me he’s not about to spurn UFC President Dana White so he can continue toiling in relative anonymity. This leaves the question of who the debuting Wrestlesaurus Rex will fight and, more importantly, who he should fight.
Tossing some overmatched bottom feeder to a grown 40-year-old man from the projects would be an exercise in cruelty. Miller is the ideal opponent for McKee. A solid wrestler in his own right who has developed the striking and guard skills to frustrate top control-minded opponents, Miller presents the kind of problems McKee simply never ran into against sub-UFC competition.
No one knows how much time McKee has left in the game, but it would behoove the UFC to find out how he fits into its long-term plans as soon as possible. With Miller rocking a five-fight winning streak and McKee nearing his eighth year without a loss, you’re looking at a serious title contender if and when they fight.
Cheap Shots & Quick Thoughts
Cole Miller vs. Kurt Pellegrino: Grating as Miller’s diatribes against his contemporaries may be, he has earned a step up in competition. Let him go against Pellegrino so he can find out how much harder it is to finish a top-flight lightweight.
Brian Foster vs. Greg Soto: There are fighters out there who are either going to win in spectacular fashion or end up on someone’s highlight reel. Foster seems like that kind of fighter. Soto is coming off a brilliant come-from-behind win over Nick Osipczak and has some inventively brutal ground-and-pound. This is a match made in violence heaven.
Follow Tomas Rios as he catalogs the downfall of his apartment’s cleanliness on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Tomas_Rios.