Saturday night, UFC 187 emanated live on pay-per-view from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in LasVegas, Nevada. The event saw two titles on the line, with Daniel Cormier submitting Anthony Johnson to win the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, and Chris Weidman finishing Vitor Belfort in less than one round to retain his UFC Middleweight Championship. Below, LWOS books the fights for the main card winners and losers of UFC 187:
Daniel Cormier: Cormier did what he failed to do four months ago as he walked out of Las Vegas with UFC gold strapped around his waist. Obviously he did so under much different circumstances than he would’ve preferred, what with Cormier defeating Johnson for the strap and not Jon Jones, who vacated the title due to personal issues and trouble with the law. Cormier will take it nonetheless. For his first defense, he should fight Jon Jones or Ryan Bader. Of course Jones is the preferred fight, but his timeline for return is unknown. If Jones isn’t back in time to be Cormier’s first challenger, then it should go to Bader. The TUF 8 winner has won four straight fights, and five of his last six. Cormier and Bader were supposed to meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night 68 two weeks from now, but Cormier was pulled from the fight to replace Jones on Saturday night.
Anthony Johnson: Johnson fell just short of his achieving his goal, but his redemption story is still a great one, even without the cherry on top. Johnson is still one of the top 5 light heavyweights on the UFC roster, and he is just another win or two away from a second title shot. It’s rare that the UFC books someone coming off of a win versus someone coming off of a loss, but due to the shallowness of the division, I think it’s appropriate in this case. Next for Johnson should be the winner of Glover Teixeira vs Ovince Saint Preux. Teixeira and Saint Preux square off in the main event of UFC Fight Night 74 in August.
Chris Weidman: Weidman came out and did exactly what he said he would do by essentially walking right through Belfort. Weidman has now beaten three Brazilian legends of the sport in four consecutive fights, and it’s clear that he’s the best middleweight in the world. The champ’s next defense should be against Luke Rockhold or Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Jacare has won eight straight fights since a loss to Rockhold in September of 2011, and Rockhold has finished four straight opponents since losing to a TRT-assisted Belfort in May of 2013. Both men are more than deserving of the shot, and either way the UFC goes, the fans will be rewarded with a great fight.
Vitor Belfort: The title shot that Belfort was waiting nearly two years for was over in less than a round. Disappointing for Belfort no doubt, but the near-20 year veteran said he’s going to continue to forge on with his MMA career. A fight with Costas Philippou would be a good next step for Belfort. Philippou is a top 15 talent at middleweight, and just like Belfort, he prefers to stand and strike. The potential bout between them would no doubt end in a knockout.
Donald Cerrone: In August of 2013, Rafael dos Anjos defeated Cerrone by unanimous decision. Since that time, dos Anjos has won the UFC Lightweight Championship, and Cerrone has won eight straight fights, including his TKO victory of John Makdessi on Saturday night. Now, it’s time for the rematch. Dos Anjos vs Cerrone 2 is the fight to make, especially with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cerrone’s originally scheduled opponent for Saturday, still hurt. After 18 fights and 4 1/2 years in the UFC, it’s time for Cerrone to finally get a UFC title shot.
John Makdessi: Coming into Saturday night, Makdessi was riding a high off of a knockout of Shane Campbell one month ago after a year long layoff. He collected some goodwill by taking this fight on short notice, but unfortunately for him, Cerrone broke his jaw in their fight, and he could be facing another extended vacation. When he comes back, Makdessi should face the loser of KJ Noons vs Alex Oliveira. Noons and Oliveira are both strikers, like Makdessi, and either match up would be a fun one. Noons and Oliveira fight each other next weekend at UFC Fight Night 67.
Andrei Arlovski: Arlovski picked up an incredible knockout win over Travis Browne in arguably the Round of the Year on Saturday. Arlovski’s next opponent should be determined by how next month’s heavyweight title fight plays out between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. Next for Arlovski should be Junior dos Santos or Stipe Miocic. If Velasquez beats Werdum, then Miocic should get the next title shot, and Arlovski should fight dos Santos. If Werdum beats Velasquez, then his next fight should be with dos Santos, and Arlovski should fight Miocic in that scenario.
Travis Browne: Browne’s wild slugfest with Arlovski was awesome, but it resulted in his second loss in his last three fights. Browne is on a bit of a skid, but he’s still a top 10 heavyweight, just like Mark Hunt. Hunt has also lost 2-of-3, and like Browne, he loves to stand and bang. Book this fight.
Joseph Benavidez: Benavidez is the best flyweight not named Demetrious Johnson. He’s 7-2 as a flyweight with both losses to Johnson, and since his most recent loss to him, Benavidez has won three straight. Like I said earlier, it’s rare for the UFC to book a winner against a loser, but next for Benavidez should be Ali Bagautinov. Bagautinov lost to Johnson last year, then got suspended for a year for failing his post-fight drug test. Bagautinov is the perfect opponent for Benavidez because he’s yet to face him, and he’s a top flyweight contender.
John Moraga: All four of Moraga’s career losses have come to the top 3 flyweights on the UFC roster: champion Johnson, Benavidez, and two to John Dodson. Next, the former title challenger should take on another former title challenger in the form of Kyoji Horiguchi. Horiguchi was defeated by Johnson one month ago in the main event of UFC 186. Horiguchi is still a young, developing fighter, and the gritty Moraga will be a great test to see how the Japanese fighter bounces back from his first loss inside the octagon.