Matches to Make After UFC 117

Aug 9, 2010
Chael Sonnen file photo: Dave Mandel |

Fights make the world go round, or so I’ve come to believe after more than a decade of cramming almost nothing but MMA into my brain.

Limited perspective aside, UFC 117 made for some awfully complicated post-show matchmaking questions. In other words, here goes something and, maybe, nothing.

Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva

What Sonnen did leading up to his bout with Anderson Silva was something of a miracle. He turned an uninspiring title bout into a hotly anticipated must-see event thanks to an endless arsenal of rants and quips that ran the gamut from obscene to hilarious.

Throw in his dominant performance turned heartbreaking loss to Silva and two things become clear: He could use a break and an opponent willing to talk back to him. After all, every great heel needs an equally great face to truly shine, and there may be no fighter more adulated than “The Axe Murderer.”

Imagine giving Sonnen another six months to hype up a fight with Silva and then imagine the sort of verbal ultra-violence Silva will spew back at him. That six-month time frame should be enough time for Silva to not only heal up from knee surgery but also build up enough hate in his body to power a nuke.

There isn’t an MMA fan alive who wouldn’t want to see the end game to be had between these two.

Clay Guida vs. Efrain Escudero

Dave Mandel/

Efrain Escudero (above) would
be a test for Clay Guida.
Everyone should know by now that Guida is never going to challenge for the lightweight title, but he could retire tomorrow as a hall-of-fame gatekeeper. And that’s no small praise in a division loaded with real-life versions of the PCP zombies from “28 Days Later.”

Escudero is one of those super-zombies, and he’s exactly the kind of fighter that makes for bloody fireworks against Guida. The wild-haired ex-carpenter doesn’t seem to believe flight is ever an option. Escudero, however, has the game and guts to stay with him every step of the way.

The only obstacle to this fight is Escudero winning his upcoming bout with John Gunderson, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

Rick Story vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Both Kim and Story are on the cusp of title contention. More importantly, they’d make for the kind of fight that would put Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah to shame.

Watching these two battle it out for takedowns alone would be worth the price of admission given their reputations for physical dominance. With the UFC perpetually in need of fresh contenders, the winner would be a fight or two away from a title shot and we’d avoid another Fitch/Alves II scenario where contenders are recycled for lack of options.

Again, though, anyone who likes monster movies likes this fight. Just the idea of Story and his tenuously repressed rage squaring off against Kim’s blank, soulless gaze makes you wonder why MMA fighters aren’t making bank in those SyFy channel “Mega-Ultra-Monkey-Octopus” movies.

Cheap Shots & Quick Thoughts

Matt Hughes vs. Dennis Hallman Numero Tres: It’s the easiest sell and safest fight the UFC can put together for the ongoing “Country Boy Infinite Retirement Tour.”

Stefan Struve vs. Pat Barry: Because someone will either get laid out in horrific fashion or end up with his limbs looking like a modern art installation.

Johny Hendricks vs. John Howard: I really don’t care who Hendricks fights next as long as he gets on a main card. Howard will be available by the time Hendricks is ready to go again and is as good a choice as any.

Phil Davis vs. Anyone who can give him a fight: Easier said than done, but Davis hasn’t lost a single minute of his UFC matches. He’s certainly not ready for title contention, but he is ready to take a step up in competition and start getting some main card exposure.

Thiago Alves vs. Anthony Johnson: Winner gets the unofficial 175-pound championship of the world. Loser has to move up to middleweight. Problems solved.
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