UFC 129 was a historic event for several reasons. It featured two title fights, it featured a UFC legend and Hall of Fame member retiring, and it featured over half the night’s fights ending with stoppages, many of which were dramatic and amazing. And now once again it’s time to ask: what’s next? What does the future hold for Georges St. Pierre, Jose Aldo, Lyoto Machida, and others?? 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 129: “St. Pierre vs. Shields”.
Next for Ben Henderson: It’ll be only the best for “Smooth” from here on out. Henderson’s tenacity, cardio, and punching power all looked very impressive in his UFC debut, as did his trademark flexibility. Henderson may fight John Makdessi next, who is undefeated and scored a dramatic spinning backfist KO at UFC 129. Other potential fighters for this year and beyond include Dennis Siver, George Sotiropoulos, and Clay Guida. The Lightweight division is still getting itself sorted out right now, so it’s hard to nail down an exact opponent, but I do think that Henderson will get a pretty big name for his next challenge.
Next for Vladimir Matyushenko: I think it’s time that Matyushenko met Antonio Rogerio Nogueira again. The two fought at an Affliction card back in 2009, with “Little Nog” winning by TKO in Round 2. But things have changed since then: Nogueira appears to be struggling to stay afloat in the super-competitive Light Heavyweight division, while “The Janitor” just got done with one of the fastest victories of his career. I think it’s time to see if “Little Nog” should still be considered amongst the 205 elite, or if it’s time for Vladimir to ascend to such a status.
Next for Randy Couture: Have we seen the last of Randy Couture? The world may never know. It would only moderately shock me if Couture waited a few years and then announced that he’d fight at 50 years old, just to prove that he could. In the near future, though, expect Couture to get offered up some kind of deal, kind of (but not exactly) similar to the deal Chuck Liddell took, which Couture may or may not take due to his film career. If nothing else, I think Couture will put the headset back on and be a guest announcer for at least a handful of UFC shows.
Next for Lyoto Machida: If Matt Hamill beats Quinton Jackson, then it’s time for the Rampage/Machida rematch so many wanted after Jackson won a controversial decision. If Jackson does beat Hamill, Machida could end up facing someone like Ryan Bader, Forrest Griffin, or Rich Franklin. I think Machida proved a lot in this fight with Couture, and I think the UFC is going to put Machida right back in the shark tank for his next bout.
Next for Jose Aldo: It’s currently rumored that Aldo’s next opponent will be Chad Mendes at UFC 133 in August. Mendes is an undefeated 10-0 fighter with two (T)KO’s and two submissions. I think it’s likely that Jose Aldo will beat Chad Mendes, and if he does, Aldo will then most likely face Kenny Florian in a bout that I think shows clear favoritism for Florian. Nonetheless, I think Aldo will beat both Mendes and Florian.
Next for Georges St. Pierre: I certainly know what I want to be next for GSP: either a super-fight with Anderson Silva or a “title vs. title” match with Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz. But I know that there’s a mountain of red tape preventing both of those fights from happening. So here’s what I think is most likely for GSP: Carlos Condit. Condit will steamroll Dong Hyun Kim, and with the rumors and speculation all coming to naught once again, GSP will fight Condit near the end of the year.
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 129?