Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night 25

By Brian Knapp Sep 17, 2011
A lot can change in 53 seconds. Just ask Jake Ellenberger.

In less than a minute, Ellenberger (Pictured, File Photo) transformed himself from one more face in a deep talent pool of young welterweights to legitimate title contender, as he wiped out former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields in the UFC Fight Night 25 main event on Saturday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. It was his 26th professional victory, but it may have carried as much weight as the 25 others the preceded it.

At 26, Ellenberger has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his 31-fight career, including a nine-second knockout of Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons in 2007. Now, in the midst of an impressive five-fight winning streak inside the UFC, he has displayed the kind of high-level consistency demanded of contenders. No matter who is next for “The Juggernaut,” it figures to have a significant impact on the 170-pound division.

A closer look at the six matches we want to see made in wake of UFC Fight Night 25:

Jake Ellenberger vs. B.J. Penn-Nick Diaz winner: With a pair of brutal knee strikes from the clinch -- one to the midsection, the other to the head -- and follow-up punches on a grounded and dazed Jake Shields, Ellenberger made himself a factor in the welterweight title picture. He now owns a stellar 5-1 record in the UFC, the lone blemish a disputed decision loss to former WEC champion Carlos Condit. Ellenberger’s wrestling skills, durability and nose for the knockout figure to keep him competitive in virtually any fight. Penn and Diaz will duke it out in the UFC 137 co-headliner in October, and, with Zuffa LLC brass unlikely to pit either man against champion Georges St. Pierre, the winner could perhaps serve as a final hurdle for Ellenberger before he challenges for welterweight gold.

Jake Shields vs. Josh Koscheck: Shields was an unfortunate victim and undoubtedly had a lot on his mind entering his ill-fated showdown with Ellenberger, having lost his father less than three weeks ago. Alas, competition has no time for sympathy. In wake of being stopped for the first time in more than a decade, Shields may want to take some time away from MMA to clear his head and his emotions. Considering what he has already accomplished, when he does return, the 32-year-old figures to seek out no less than the cream of the welterweight crop. Koscheck will collide with hall of famer Matt Hughes at UFC 135 on Saturday in Denver, likely entering the Octagon as a significant favorite against the former champion. Provided he can get past the cagy and still-dangerous Hughes, Koscheck could provide a route for Shields to get back in the fray at 170 pounds.

Court McGee vs. Ed Herman: Not many -- if any -- will match McGee’s fighting spirit. What he lacks in pure talent he more than makes up for with his grit and determination. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 winner willed himself to another victory at UFC Fight Night 25, as he captured a unanimous decision from South Korean brute Dongi Yang in the co-main event. McGee has won eight fights in a row, three of them in the UFC. The resurgent Herman, who has rebounded from two reconstructive knee surgeries to finish Tim Credeur and Kyle Noke, poses a number of threats, with heavy hands, strong wrestling and a stout submission game.

Alan Belcher File Photo

Belcher was too much for MacDonald.
Alan Belcher vs. Demian Maia: Is Belcher ready for truly top-flight competition at 185 pounds? After his one-sided thrashing of Jason MacDonald, perhaps the time has come to answer that question. The Roufusport representative has always had the tools, but inconsistency and injuries have held him back. At 27, he has spent plenty of time in the grooming stage and warrants a significant step up in competition. Provided Maia can dispatch Santiago -- an excellent middleweight who cannot seem to get over the hump in the Octagon -- at UFC 136, a matchup with Belcher could prove a nice fit.

Erik Koch vs. Mike Thomas Brown: Koch’s ability is undeniable, but, at 22, he needs and deserves more seasoning before he attempts to climb in the cage with someone like champion Jose Aldo or No. 1 contender Kenny Florian, the two men who will vie for the 145-pound throne at UFC 136. Brown returned to the winner’s circle at UFC 133, and, with his punching power, grappling chops and experience as a former titleholder, he would provide a more than serviceable litmus test for a prospect in Koch’s position.

Evan Dunham vs. Jacob Volkmann: Consecutive losses to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard derailed Dunham for a time, but the 29-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt remains a superb lightweight. He battered “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 alum Shamar Bailey with a variety of strikes at UFC Fight Night 25, kept himself upright against an aggressive and durable wrestler and put an end to his two-fight skid. He may have to take small steps before he gets himself back in the picture at 155 pounds, but he has time on his side. Volkmann, an elite wrestler who has made a successful move to lightweight, has quietly pieced together a string of four straight wins. Ring the bell, gentlemen.


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