Makovsky decided to drop down to flyweight after being released by Bellator and clearly made the right move. He’s gone 3-0 since including his surprising instance of success last Saturday night, taking out the always-game Jorgensen despite having fought less than a month prior and getting the bout on short notice. Makovsky’s grappling will keep him in most match-ups so expect him to be around the UFC for 2014 and possibly beyond. A clash with Chris Cariaso would work based on divisional standing and availability, though the winner of January’s bout between Dustin Ortiz-John Moraga is also a perfectly suitable option for Bellator’s former bantamweight champion. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Green is officially a legitimate threat at 155 pounds after stringing together seven straight wins including success in the Octagon over James Krause, Jacob Volkmann, and now Healy. While that isn’t exactly a murderers’ row of opponents, Green’s athleticism and ability to put opponents away while standing or on the ground make him a force to be reckoned with, and, at 27 years old, he still has time to improve before finding himself on the downside of his career. Green deserves a Top 10 name at this point to see how he stacks up against the divisional elite. Khabib Nurmagomedov is the only adversary fitting the bill without anything on the immediate horizon, though collisions between Jim Miller-Fabricio Camoes or Rustam Khabilov-Rafael dos Anjos are just around the corner as well. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
LaFlare doesn’t have the most exciting style but he’s definitely effective as evident by his three wins under the UFC banner. While McGee can be a bit shaky at times, beating him is still a nice feather to fly in LaFlare’s cap and should boost him into bigger bouts come 2014. A name immediately jumping out as a potential opponent is Josh Koscheck since the Ultimate Fighter OG needs a potentially beatable opponent based on his three-fight slide and doesn’t have anything booked while also having enough name value to give LaFlare a signature win if successful. Rick Story would also work in such a capacity. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Beating Mac Danzig isn’t anything to write home about at this point but Lauzon’s relative dominance in the rumble is (as are the hellacious elbows he delivered to slice up the Ultimate Fighter winner’s face). He’s not in position to face a big dog in the division based on consecutive stumbles to Jim Miller/Michael Johnson, but “J-Lau” is beloved by fans and a lock to entertain, so there’s no reason he can’t face a high profile foe. Think Edson Barboza or Donald Cerrone assuming “Cowboy” doesn’t drop down to 145 pounds as teased. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Faber and teammate Chad Mendes are mirror images of each other to a certain extent. Like Mendes, Faber fell in a title-fight to a Nova Uniao product and channeled the adversity into an impressive winning streak. He’s even arguably the Fighter of the Year after a 4-0 mark in 2013 including three submissions. The run of success and his popularity make Faber all but certain for a rematch with the winner of February’s face-off between champions Renan Barao-Dominick Cruz. Otherwise, there’s a slim chance he could draw Raphael Assuncao based on the Brazilian having won his last five fights. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Mendes has been on a tear since being finished in his title-fight with Jose Aldo nearly two years ago, picking up five wins including four by way of a strike-based stoppage. In reality, he deserves another crack at the championship and would be wise to hold out for the winner of Aldo-Ricardo Lamas. If that option never materializes based on an injury, controversial outcome, or Aldo receiving an immediate rematch in defeat, the only other logical adversary at this point is Cub Swanson. The Greg Jackson MMA product has also come out of his last five fights with a raised hand, isn’t on tap for a tilt at the moment, and went the distance with Mendes a few years ago while both were under WEC’s banner. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
At this point, there’s little doubt Johnson could end up putting together a run as champion on par with the greats like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. His finish of Benavidez was jaw-dropping and further separated “Mighty Mouse” from the pack. Outside of a super-fight with a bantamweight like Urijah Faber, the only semi-plausible opponents for Johnson at the moment are John Dodson (who he beat last January but not without some adversity along the way) or John Lineker (who has failed to make weight a number of times and is allegedly on deck for a duel with Ali Bagautinov at UFC 169). Neither is a great option, but that’s all the UFC has to offer at this point. (PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
UFC win lacking significance is akin to the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, there’s no question some victories have a larger impact on either a division or the involved individual than others. Such was certainly the case at where a few underdogs stepped up to the plate and knocked one out of the park, seasoned veterans rose to the occasion, and flyweight champ UFC on FOX 9 Demetrious Johnson turned in his best performance to date.