Matches to Make After TUF 14 Finale

By Brian Knapp Dec 3, 2011
Jason “Mayhem” Miller struggled after taking the first round. | File Photo:

Bluster gave way to stone-cold reality for Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and it was not pretty.

Michael Bisping shellacked the colorful and charismatic “Bully Beatdown” host, scoring a third-round technical knockout in “The Ultimate Fighter 14” Finale main event on Saturday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Miller had been stopped on strikes only once previously in his 32-fight career. Bisping, who burst on the scene during Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” has rattled off four consecutive victories, his longest such streak since he began his professional campaign 14-0.

A dramatic shift in momentum unfolded in the second round, where Miller was reduced to little more than a sitting duck once his takedowns failed him. Bisping overwhelmed the former Icon Sport champion with volume and accuracy, leaving him fatigued, frustrated and desperate entering round three. Once there, Bisping scrambled into a dominant position on the ground and polished off his latest conquest with punches, elbows, hammerfists and knees to the body. It was over 3:34 into round three.

Bisping’s 12 wins inside the Octagon tie him with Kenny Florian, Chris Leben, B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez for 11th on the UFC’s all-time list.

In wake of “The Ultimate Fighter 14” Finale, here are seven matches we want to see made:

Michael Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort-Anthony Johnson winner: Bisping’s two previous encounters with truly elite fighters ended in defeat, as he lost a split decision to Rashad Evans at UFC 78 and got victimized by a Dan Henderson highlight-reel knockout at UFC 100. Now on a four-fight winning streak, the polarizing 32-year-old Brit has put himself in position to give it another go. While none of his individual skills move the needle, Bisping remains an underrated and underappreciated all-around presence at 185 pounds. Belfort and Johnson will throw leather with one another at UFC 142 on Jan. 14. Let “The Count” take a swing at the winner.

Jason Miller vs. Cung Le: Miller fell woefully short of the mark in his return to the UFC. Outside of a first-round takedown and some mild ground-and-pound, the 30-year-old Strikeforce veteran was no threat to Bisping. His inability to put the fight on the ground and keep it there led to a one-sided beating and likely left UFC matchmakers with far more questions than answers. Miller needs to return to the drawing board and tighten up his game in a hurry if he wants to remain relevant in the UFC. Perhaps a matchup with former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le would do some good for both men, provided the San Shou master desires another fight in the UFC in wake of his recent loss to Wanderlei Silva.

John Dodson File Photo

Dodson has a bright future.
John Dodson vs. Yves Jabouin-Walel Watson winner: Because of his thrilling style and experience, Dodson provides UFC brass with a myriad of options. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 bantamweight winner, who aspires to someday win titles in three divisions, is well equipped to thrive outside of his ideal weight class, at least until the UFC finds room for the flyweights. Save for the occasional lapse in focus, Dodson has very few holes in his game, and few 125- or 135-pounders can match his physical tools. The survivor of the Jabouin-Watson showdown at UFC 140 on Saturday could serve as a nice first test for Dodson as reality show royalty.

Diego Brandao vs. Nam Phan-Jim Hettes winner: No one can question Brandao’s drive and determination, but his submission victory in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 featherweight final exposed some chinks in the armor. An offensive juggernaut, the Brazilian often leaves himself vulnerable and exposed in pursuit of the finish -- a weakness upon which a seasoned, streamlined striker like Phan could capitalize. Hettes, an unbeaten
submission savant, poses a dangerous challenge on the floor.

Tony Ferguson vs. Edson Barboza-Terry Etim winner: Where Ferguson goes, fireworks follow. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 winner outpointed American Top Team veteran Yves Edwards in what can only be described as a valuable experience. A potent standup fighter with excellent wrestling skills, Ferguson will be a tough out at 155 pounds. Throw him the Barboza-Etim winner and see how far he wants to climb.

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Nick Pace: Dillashaw stood with one of the sport’s most gifted strikers and paid the price. Still, there is no shame in a defeat to Dodson. Another outstanding prospect spawned by the Team Alpha Male camp, Dillashaw figures only to improve from here, as he works daily with Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes. A matchup with Pace -- a highly regarded Team Tiger Schulmann export whose only three losses have come to former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, onetime UFC bantamweight title contender Demetrious Johnson and the well-traveled Ivan Menjivar -- might paint a more accurate picture of where Dillashaw stands in his development.

Dennis Bermudez vs. Leonard Garcia-Tiequan Zhang loser: Bermudez came within an eyelash of upsetting Brandao in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 featherweight final. However, his aggression cost him. After leveling the Brazilian with a picture-perfect counter right hand, Bermudez swarmed for the figurative kill. Not long after, his left arm was hyperextended and he was submitting to an armbar. On-the-job training can be a painful experience, especially under the glare of the UFC spotlight. With that said, Bermudez’s wrestling background and natural punching power make him an interesting prospect at 145 pounds. Provided his arm was not injured too severely, he could be looking at a return bout between now and the end of the first quarter of 2012. Send the Garcia-Zhang loser his way.


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