What’s next for Michael Bisping, Mayhem Miller and the TUF 14 winners?
MICHAEL BISPING VS. DEMIAN MAIA: The ideal next opponent for Michael Bisping would be Brian Stann. It’s a sellable fight between one of the UFC’s most-loved fighters and one of its most-hated. They’re also two of the top middleweights in the UFC. But sources told HeavyMMA that Stann is not likely to fight again until March or April, which leaves him out of the equation.
The only other fighter that makes sense is Maia. He’s coming off a win over Jorge Santiago in October, and he’s also a top 10 UFC middleweight. A win for Bisping over Maia would cement him as a legitimate title contender and set him up for an eventual bout with Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen or Mark Munoz later in the year.
JASON MILLER VS. CUNG LE: Miller’s underwhelming performance against Bisping left UFC President Dana White unsure if he would even give Miller another fight in the UFC, but I think he’ll get another shot. Miller has a huge fan base and folks will tune in to see him, so it’s worth putting him back in the cage against Le, another middleweight who underwhelmed in his last fight. It’s an interesting style matchup as well, with Le’s striking taking on Miller’s ground game.
DIEGO BRANDAO VS. VAGNER ROCHA: Brandao has the potential to be an immediate player in the featherweight division, especially if he keeps putting on the kinds of performances he did in the TUF house and against Dennis Bermudez in the finale fight. I wouldn’t throw Brandao directly in the fire against a top featherweight just yet, though, which makes Vagner Rocha a great next opponent. We saw Brandao’s slick ground game with the armbar on Bermudez, and Rocha’s superb jiujitsu game could force Brandao into an exciting grappling battle. Brandao would have a significant edge standing.
JOHN DODSON VS. MIKE EASTON: Dodson, a pint-sized cartoon character of a fighter, has displayed some excellent power to go along with unbelievable speed. Easton, who won his UFC debut in October, is another short fighter with incredible speed. This one would be a lot of fun to watch.
TONY FERGUSON VS. DANNY CASTILLO: Whether you thought Ferguson actually beat Yves Edwards or not, you can’t deny that he’s made big strides since his time on the Ultimate Fighter. He’s defeated two cagey veterans in Aaron Riley and now Edwards, so there’s no point in taking a step backwards. Castillo got back to his winning ways with a win over Shamar Bailey at UFC 139, and he would offer a stern test in the wrestling department for Ferguson, who needs to prove he can hang with excellent wrestlers before he moves any higher up the lightweight ladder.