Outside of Dominick Cruz, Barao doesn’t have a lot of legitimate tests on the horizon against opponents he hasn’t already beaten. Sure, there’s the winner of Urijah Faber-Michael McDonald, but Barao took each man out with relative ease when they rumbled. There’s also Raphael Assuncao-T.J. Dillashaw to consider, but neither seems to have what it takes to end Barao’s insane 31-fight winning streak. Since Barao has said he would fight at 145 pounds if teammate Jose Aldo hadn’t beaten him to the punch, it’s only natural the 26-year old would move up to featherweight once his fellow Brazilian departs for the lightweight division. Aldo still has a few fighters on tap if he wants to officially clean the featherweight division out, but the 145-pound champion is getting older and is putting a lot of stress on his body by continually cutting the amount of weight he does to defend his belt. Tragically, Nova Uniao saw one of their fighters pass away this week before an event under similar circumstances, and though there’s no reason to believe Aldo is in danger there’s certainly no reason to take unnecessary risk either. “Scarface” has said he’d move up to 155 pounds when his coaches tell him it’s time. He has little else to prove in his current divisional pool. Why not take a dip in a new one? Fans have been calling for Evans to dip down to 185 pounds for a long time based on his 5’11” frame. He’s certainly been successful as a light heavyweight, winning UFC gold during his run in addition to beating some choice competitors including Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Phil Davis, and Lyoto Machida. However, the thought of him mixing it up with a new batch of bad-asses is definitely intriguing and doable by Evans’ own admission. With only a few years left in his career, the 34-year old who celebrated his birthday this week needs to start considering “money” match-ups and many of those could take place at middleweight. Kennedy has considered dropping to welterweight before and it’s an excellent time to do so. There are already a handful of title-contenders in Kennedy’s current division, but that’s not necessarily the case at 170 pounds. If he can truly shed the 15 ticks necessary to move from welterweight he could find himself challenging for a belt sooner than later, especially with back-to-back wins already under his belt and third potentially in store this coming November when he takes to the Octagon for a second time in his career. There are definitely some deserving contenders out there for “Bones” at the moment and 1-2 more on the horizon. That being said, if he is able to keep on his current pace and continue holding on to the light heavyweight championship, there’s no doubt Jones will consider bulking up to heavyweight to test his skills in the sport’s most dangerous division. He stands 6’4” and has a longer reach than every UFC heavyweight save for seven-footer Stefan Struve. He could also put on the required mass to make 235-240 without it involving a bunch of baggage.
UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida’s decision to shed some pounds and compete as a middleweight sent ripples through the MMA world, giving fans and media members something new to salivate over. After all, with “The Dragon” being one of the brightest 205ers in the sport, the thought of him mixing it up against similar-sized, highly-skilled opponents is absolutely intriguing. Machida wasn’t the first UFC fighter to move divisions in hopes of finding additional success and he won’t be the last. In fact, expect a few of his notable peers to follow suit in the next twelve months. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)