Joe Silva’s shoes: Who should be next for the UFC on FUEL TV 6 winners?

UFC on FUEL TV 6: Franklin vs. Le is in the books and for the third time this year, the Ultimate Fighting Championship delivered an outstanding fight card in the country of Brazil.

Cung Le, Thiago Silva, Dong Hyun Kim, Takanori Gomi, Jon Tuck and Tekaya Mizugaki were the big winners last night in as each man picked up a victory on the main card.

After every fight card, fans wonder who the winners will be matched up with next. With another night of UFC action in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look forward and put ourselves in Joe Silva’s shoes to play UFC matchmaker.

Winner: Tekaya Mizugaki
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Ivan Menjivar vs. Azamat Gashimov at UFC 154
Why They Should Fight: Tekaya Mizugaki is a gritty bantamweight who dominated Jeff Hougland at UFC on FUEL TV 6.

Mizugaki has been a staple in the bantamweight division since joining ZUFFA back in the WEC days. He has faced many of the division’s top fighters but has yet to cross paths with Ivan Menjivar. Both are long-time veterans of the sport and Menjivar’s well rounded style against Mizugaki’s smothering top attack would make for an interesting clash of styles.

Menjivar has a very tough fight in Azamat Gashimov at UFC 154 next week, but his experience should help him get a victory in that fight. Both fighters are in the middle tier of the UFC bantamweight division, so this match up would be more than suitable for any preliminary card on FUEL TV or FX.

Winner: Jon Tuck
Who He Should Fight Next: Reza Madadi
Why They Should Fight: Despite losing a split decision to Cristiano Marcello at UFC 153 in October, many feel Reza Madadi won the fight and should be treated like he is coming off a win. The UFC has done it to many fighters before, and on the heels of the controversial fight Madadi should be matched up with a fighter coming off a win – not coming off a loss.

Enter Jon Tuck.

Tuck was successful in his UFC debut, defeating Tiequan Zhang in one of the most exciting fights of the night at UFC on FUEL TV 6. The Guam-born fighter proved with the victory he has potential, but with just seven career fights he needs more experience before jumping too deep into the shark tank that is the UFC lightweight division. Madadi and Tuck are on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the UFC lightweight rankings, but not every fighter can be a champion or contender and, as of now anyways, both guys have a place in the UFC.

Winner: Takanori Gomi
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale
Why They Should Fight: No matter who wins between Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner at the TUF: 16 Finale, a future match up with Takanori Gomi is one to salivate over.

All three fighters are quick, explosive and versatile lightweights that like to throw strikes until their opponents are beat red or knocked unconscious.

Gomi is coming off a ‘Fight of the Night’ winning performance and should he fight Guillard or Varner, there would be a very good chance he could win the award again. With the Japanese fighter coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in over three years, Gomi seems to have more confidence in himself than ever before. That is bad news for his future opponents as the former PRIDE champion have proved in the past he had the skills to be a top-10 talent.

No matter which match up happens, the fans are in for a treat.

Winner: Dong Hyun Kim
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Mike Pyle vs. James Head at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale
Why They Should Fight: There aren’t many fighters in the UFC welterweight division that Dong Hyun Kim isn’t going to run through with his grappling abilities. However, that’s not the Korean fighter’s problem – it’s up to his opponents to stop him.

A future battle between Kim and the winner of Mike Pyle vs. James Head at December’s The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale makes sense. All three fighters have a knack for making opponents fight out of their comfort zone and it should be interesting to see which man could best implement their strengths when matched up against one another. Pyle has struggled in the UFC against opponents who are able to stifle his offense and Kim is notorious for grinding out his opposition until the final bell. Head, on the other hand, is making serious ground in the UFC after his upset of Brian Ebersole at UFC 149 last July. If he can get by Pyle in December, Head is a fighter to look out for.

The winner of Kim vs. Pyle/Head creeps very close to a top-10 ranking in the UFC welterweight division.

Winner: Thiago Silva
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Chad Griggs vs. Cyrille Diabate at UFC 154
Why They Should Fight: Thiago Silva is in the middle of a transition in his career. He finally picked up a legitimate win for the first time since mid-2009 and has just switched camps from American Top Team to the Blackzilians. While a lot of people would probably like to see the Brazilian face a top-15 light heavyweight after his submission of Stanislav Nedkov, it would be a good decision not to rush him.

Silva has been through a lot of struggles in recent years and is finally getting his confidence back. By no means should he get a gimme in his next fight, but he should get a match up that is winnable. The winner of UFC 154’s Chad Griggs vs. Cyrille Diabate bout fits the bill.

There is no doubt Griggs and Diabate are a level below Silva in the 205-pound pecking order, but it doesn’t matter. Either match up would give Silva the chance to build momentum with a second consecutive win while Griggs or Diabate would get the chance to take a step up in competition and prove their worth.

Winner: Cung Le
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami at UFC 155
Why They Should Fight: Cung Le is on the verge of a top-10 spot in the UFC middleweight division after knocking Rich Franklin out cold in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 6. With a win over a former UFC title-holder on his resume, the former Strikeforce champion is now deserving of another credible opponent.

The winner of UFC 155’s Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami fills the description.

Belcher vs. Le would be an outstanding striking battle where both men would likely stand toe-to-toe. Belcher would be higher in the ranks thank Le if he wins in December, however the UFC is in the business of making exciting fights and it would be a barnburner without a doubt.

An Okami vs. Le match up has a lot of potential on a number of levels. The most important being the fight could easily headline the UFC’s next show in Asia as both fighters have names in the market. Le has yet to face a grappling-based fighter in the UFC and it would be interesting to see how he deals with the smothering style of Okami.

Regardless of how it shakes out, booking Le against the winner of Belcher vs. Okami makes sense.


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