Barnatt was written off by many (including myself) when it came to his chances of success against Craig. However, he came through in the end, using his superior reach to pick Craig apart until he crumbled. It was an impressive performance from the British youngster, giving his fans hope in terms of how 2014 may unfold. Barnatt isn’t ready for a Top 10 opponent yet but he definitely deserves another tough veteran like Craig. Names like Derek Brunson and Costa Philippou immediately come to mind as options, as do the winners of November match-ups between Tim Kennedy-Rafael Natal, Ed Herman-Thales Leites, and Lorenz Larkin-Chris Camozzi. Lineker’s hands are scary for any foe at 125 pounds. However, given the likelihood of him giving up a percentage of his purse after coming in heavy, he’s equally enticing. While his finish of Harris was wonderful, his continued issue with weight management is quite the opposite. What’s NEXT for him should be a date with Mike Dolce or some other nutritionist who can figure out how to get him down to flyweight safely and without further incident. Otherwise he needs to go back to bantamweight. Assuming he stays as a 125er, John Dodson is the clear cut choice for his next fight. Both are at the top of the division and the bout could definitely determine the division’s next contender. Who? Sakara probably asked himself the same question when presented with Musoke as an adversary. Chances are he’s quite familiar with the Swede now after being submitted in the opening round of action. Obviously Musoke won’t be headlining a card anytime soon but he’s definitely in position to win another big bout and subsequently score a featured fight on the UFC’s next stop in Sweden. For his next opponent, someone with a bit of name value but no real standing in the division (like Sakara) makes sense. Take Tom Watson or Bubba McDaniel for example. Also worth pointing out, Musoke is normally a welterweight so don’t be surprised if he drops back down to 170. The TUF: Smashes winner looked sharp against Tuck and should make for a tough draw no matter who he meets in his next match-up. His hands are good and his grappling is even better, plus he’s got lots of room to grow still at the age of 26. “Stormin” Norman is definitely up to snuff when it comes to scoring a higher profile pairing after going 2-0 in the Octagon and owning seven straight wins prior to the success. It’s time to give him a test like Tony Ferguson or K.J. Noons and see how he handles the challenge of a more-established opponent. Clearly Manuwa’s stand-up is his bread and butter. His strikes are crisp and come with a snap unlike most of his peers. However, his ability to handle a legitimate wrestler remains to be seen. He also needs to showcase his skills on American soil to erase any doubt about his need for a home-field advantage to come out on top. Ryan Bader would be a perfect selection, but he already has a December duel lined up. As such, giving Manuwa a fellow knockout artist like Thiago Silva would at least provide massive potential for fireworks in terms of how the action would unfold inside the Octagon. Machida’s move to 185 pounds was a perfect example of an athlete slimming down to a division better suited for his/her physique. He was great as a 205er but has the potential to be incredible at middleweight. He looked faster but didn’t lose any power as evident by his beautiful head-kick finish of Munoz. Machida is established enough to immediately jump into the discussion for a title-shot with one more victory under his belt. The two men best suited to serve as opponents in that regard are Vitor Belfort, who Machida has a personal issue with, and Michael Bisping. Gegard Mousasi is also worth considering but he doesn’t have the same mainstream appeal as the previously mentioned candidates.
Every win attached to
was crucial for the competitor who came out on top. However, in the big picture a handful of the victories were more notable in terms of the stakes involved. Here’s a look at six of the biggest instances of success including a couple of upsets, some solid showings, and even an instance or two of tilts with implications on title-contendership. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC Fight Night 30