Mike Pyle (27-11-1)
Who he should face next: Ben Saunders (19-7-2)
After Mike Pyle’s impressive TKO victory over Sean Spencer at UFC Fight Night 82 it is clear the 40 year old veteran still has some gas left in the tank. Mind you it’s likely a very limited tank at his age. However he’s still a great measuring stick for up and coming welterweights looking to make a name for themselves in the UFC.
Yet sometimes it’s fun to see veterans of the sport face off against one another, especially when they’ve had long careers without ever crossing paths. That’s why it seems like a matchup with Ben Saunders (19-7-2) could produce some fireworks. Saunders is coming off a TKO loss to Patrick Cote in January so he should be on the same schedule as Pyle.
The matchup would determine whether or not Saunders has what it takes to make an actual title run while it would give Pyle an idea as to whether or not retirement is a viable option.
Misha Cirkunov (11-2)
Who he should face next: Francimar Barroso (18-4)
Canadian light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov is riding high on a six fight win streak including two victories in the UFC. After making a mess of Alex Nicholson’s jaw at UFC Fight Night 82 he should be in for a step up in competition next time out.
Cirkunov’s most recent win should have put him close to the top 20 in the division so another top 20 opponent would be ideal. The only issue is that there are very few top tier light heavyweights that are actually coming off a win in their last fight. One guy around the top twenty who is currently on a two fight winning streak is 35 year old Brazilian Francimar Barroso (18-4).
Barroso is 3-1 inside the octagon with victories over Ryan Jimmo and Elvis Mutapcic. Both men are finishers with nine of Cirkunov’s wins having been finishes while the same goes for 14 of Barroso’s 18 career wins. The winner of this bout should be ready for a top ten opponent and the loser would be looking to refocus.
Joseph Benavidez (24-4)
Who he should face next: John Dodson (17-7)
When a guy has won 11 of 13fights in the UFC it’s hard to argue against giving him a title shot. Unfortunately when the two losses in that run have come against current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson a title shot is unlikely. That is the case right now for Joseph Benavidez who won yet again this past Saturday when he dominated Zach Makovsky for a unanimous decision victory.
I don’t think it’s time just yet for Benavidez to move up to the bantamweight division. However one more victory as a flyweight has got to get him a third crack at “Mighty Mouse”. Another flyweight looking for a third crack at Johnson is none other than John Dodson (17-7). He lost his last fight, to Johnson, but before that he had won three straight against legitimate flyweight contenders.
The winner of this fight would get the ever illusive third title shot while the loser would likely be forced to move up a weight class.
Ovince Saint Preux (19-7)
Who he should face next: Short Notice Opponent or Quinton Jackson
In the past Ovince Saint Preux has stumbled against opponents in the top five of his division, but after another solid dominating win at UFC Fight Night 82, it looks like Saint Preux should get another chance to prove himself against the best of the best.
Saint Preux’s biggest problem is that all of the guys he could face he’s either lost to or they are already scheduled to fight. That’s why it might be in his best interest to wait by the phone for an injury replacement opportunity. But, if he isn’t interested in taking a replacement fight he could ask for a fight with veteran light heavyweight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (36-11).
It’s unclear whether the 37 year old Jackson will fight again inside the octagon. It’s been close to a year since he returned to the organization. If he does return he’d be the perfect name for Ovince Saint Preux’s impressive resume.
Roy Nelson (21-12)
Who he should face next: Derrick Lewis (14-4)
Roy “Big Country” Nelson was in desperate need of a win when he met Jared Rosholt at UFC Fight Night 82. Although it wasn’t one of his classic knockout victories it was a unanimous decision win against a young and tough wrestler.
Assuming he’s not going to hang his gloves up before he fights again, the UFC would be wise to put Nelson in a potentially fun fight. There is no reason to put him in a title eliminator or anything like that at this point in his career, so a fight that has the potential for entertainment is the way to go.
Although he’s on the rise, fellow heavyweight Derrick Lewis (14-4) is nowhere near ready to fight for a UFC title. But, he does pack an explosive punch and most likely he wouldn’t be afraid to stand in the pocket and trade with Nelson. Plus, a win for Lewis would be a huge accomplishment and a win for Nelson would be a feather in his cap to say he took out an up and comer at his age.
Stephen Thompson (12-1)
Who he should face next: UFC Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler (27-10)
There is no doubt that after taking out Johny Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 82 Stephen “Wonderboy” Thomspon is ready for superstardom. Seeing as Hendricks probably would have received a trilogy bout with current champ Robbie Lawler had he won, it’s only fair that Thompson get the same reward.
Thompson looked fantastic on his way to a dominating first round TKO of the former champ and other than a stumble against Matt Brown he’s been flawless in his pro MMA career. A bout with Lawler might play out the similar to the one with Hendricks, and it’d be interesting to see how a true veteran like “Ruthless” would handle the unpredictable karate style of Stephen Thompson.
Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer