UFC 128 will likely be talked about for many months to come, whether it’s due to Mirko Cro Cop getting KO’d again, Jim Miller staking his claim atop the UFC’s Lightweight division, or the obvious: Jon Jones destroying Mauricio Rua. But now once again it’s time to ask: what’s next? What does the future hold after so much seems to have changed? Here’s my answer to just that: a new edition of my “What’s Next for the Winners and Losers” series of articles, now featuring UFC 128: “Shogun vs. Jones”.
Next for Mirko Filipovic: Retirement, if he knows what’s good for him. I’ve had my wars with Filipovic’s legion of fans in the past, but a strange thing happened to me at UFC 128. I found myself quite sad when I saw Cro Cop lifeless on the mat for the second time in a row. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, and I won’t speculate because I’ve never followed him that closely. But the evidence is staggering: Cro Cop is on the decline, and it may be better to hang it up now or else he risks becoming a Heavyweight version of Chuck Liddell.
Next for Brendan Schaub: With this win, Schaub took a crucial step forward on his quest for top-division status. I think the time has come for Schaub to rematch Roy Nelson, but that’s only if Nelson loses to his upcoming opponent, Frank Mir. Likewise, I’d love to see Schaub take on Cheick Kongo if Kongo loses his upcoming fight to Pay Barry. Also, Stefan Struve would be a good fit for Schaub, that’s a fight that’s been discussed and I think it’d be very entertaining. Schaub may not be a championship contender just yet, but he’s really beginning to find himself in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Big things are in store for Brendan Schaub in 2011.
Next for Jim Miller: I’ll be watching very closely to see how the UFC approaches Jim Miller now that he’s beaten another tough competitor. Miller may not deserve a title shot, but he’s very close. He’s on the short-list. Unfortunately he’ll have to wait awhile, because Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard have to fight again, then Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida have to fight, and then, on top of all that, the winners of those two matches have to fight. It’s a crowded Lightweight scene, but Miller is fast-rising to the top of it. He deserves a top-level opponent for his next fight.
Next for Urijah Faber: I think the man that many consider the WEC’s best asset and biggest star will have a very bright future in the UFC. Faber came off as a class act during his post-fight interview, and when he fought Eddie Wineland he fought with the style that made him a well-respected and a very entertaining champion. The WEC was always quick to put Faber into title contention, and the positives and negatives of that are best left for another day, but in the here and now I think the UFC will continue that trend. Faber is only one or two fights away from challenging for the championship.
Next for Mauricio Rua: A certain section of the “Shogun” contingent are already calling for him to drop down to Middleweight, and I honestly think that would be very interesting and I’d like to see it happen. My gut reaction is that it won’t, but if it does it wouldn’t surprise me too much, and I think Rua has a lot of interesting match-ups at 185. If he stays at 205, I think Rua should face Lyoto Machida for a third and final time, or perhaps Quinton Jackson. Rua needs to battle an established veteran, both for the sake of nostalgia and to keep him alive in the UFC’s ever-crowded Light Heavyweight scene.
Next for Jon Jones: Rashad Evans, and another dominating victory. I once swore I’d never again bet against Jon Jones, and Rashad Evans won’t be the fighter that makes me break that promise. I don’t even know who that fighter is, since I don’t see anyone beating Jon Jones at Light Heavyweight. It may be the hype getting to me, and I may be getting my hopes up too high, especially given the “Light Heavyweight curse”. But I said it was “The Era of Bones”, and I truly believe that.
And that’s what I think, fans and friends. But what about you? What do you see happening in the near and not-so-near future of the big winners and losers of UFC 128?