Lombard answered questions about how he would perform as a welterweight by blasting Nate Marquardt into orbit less than two minutes into their match-up. With his 36th birthday coming up in February, Lombard’s competitive clock is ticking so there’s no reason to ease him along by handing him an inferior opponent. Fortunately, there are a number of 170ers scheduled for action in November at UFC 167 that would fit the bill in terms of a tough draw with some name value (Rory MacDonald, Robbie Lawler, Josh Koscheck, and Johny Hendricks for example). There’s no question Dodson is one of the hardest-hitting 125ers out there. Three of his four UFC wins have come as the result of a strike-based stoppage and he had champion Demetrious Johnson wobbled in their tilt. With only 19 flyweights on the roster, the UFC doesn’t have a lot of options for Dodson who definitely deserves a ranked opponent. Assuming John Lineker exits next weekend’s fight with Phil Harris unscathed and victorious, he would make a lot of sense for Dodson given his winning streak and equally heavy hands. Gonzaga is 4-1 since returning to the UFC with all of the wins featuring some form of finish. He’s coming off back-to-back knockouts but also has a polished BJJ arsenal at his disposal. As a longtime UFC veteran with some solid success as of late, “Napao” has the marketability to mix it up in a co-headliner or even main event depending on the size of the show. One interesting possibility for Gonzaga is Brendan Schaub. The TUF 10 finalist owns a past win over the Brazilian and is on a two-fight run of his own. Stipe Miocic is also worth mentioning given his 10-1 record and outpointing of Roy Nelson earlier this year. Melendez picked up his first UFC win in one of the year’s most amazing efforts. On multiple occasions, he and Sanchez decided to throw caution to the wind and start blasting each other in the pocket. Melendez got the better of Sanchez at times with the reverse being true in other instances. By bout’s end, Sanchez’s face was a mess including a gash over his eye likely to make even Freddy Krueger a little squeamish. The lightweight division is extremely deep, so the UFC’s matchmaking team should have no problem finding him a suitable foe. Rafael dos Anjos and T.J. Grant would both be excellent choices, as they’re on impressive winning streaks and would see their stock skyrocket by potentially beating Melendez. Few fighters if any have opened their career with the type of success “DC” has found thirteen bouts into his run. In addition to being undefeated, Cormier has taken out a number of Top 10 heavyweights despite his diminutive size including Josh Barnett, Antonio Silva, Frank Mir, and now Nelson. With light heavyweight in his future, a spot in a clash with champ Jon Jones is a logical fit for Cormier. However, Jones is already expected to defend his belt against Glover Teixeira in February so Cormier would have to wait until mid-2014 before his opportunity came around. As such, the next best thing is a go at Alexander Gustafsson who nearly beat Jones in September. Velasquez isn’t invincible as evident from his knockout loss to Dos Santos from a few years back, but the heavyweight champ is damn sure close to it. He looked excellent against Dos Santos in their main event meeting, out-striking the Brazilian boxer more often than not before eventually putting him away in the fifth frame. His next fight is extremely easy to predict, as Fabricio Werdum is all but locked into a duel with the dominant divisional king.
MMA fans may have felt like winners after an all-around entertaining show, but half of the competitors taking to the cage last night at
actually DID earn a victory at the event. While every instance of success was important, some of the performances were especially impressive and came in high-stake showdowns. There’s no way to know for sure what fate has in store for the triumphant parties but plenty of interesting options are out there. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 166