Benson Henderson already ruled the roost at 155-pounds heading into Key Arena when he defended his championship against Cesar Gracie-trained fighter Nate Diaz but he had his naysayers who believe that Frankie Edgar should have those ten-pounds of gold wrapped around his waist.
Last night Henderson silenced the haters and did so in downright dominate fashion. Diaz desperately wanted to bring the championship home to the 209 area code but his entire game was shut down and it was essentially one-way traffic for 25 minutes, so one sided that Marcos Rosales inked two 10-8 rounds for the MMALab product.
Henderson was hardly the only fighter to bring the thunder on the big-stage though – Alexander Gustafsson, Rory MacDonald and Matt Brown also added another tally for the win column.
Before an event even wraps up the inevitable question of ‘what’s next?’ is pondered by us violence lovin’, borderline sociopathic fight connoisseurs so I will do my best to play matchmaker and book some action to light up that television screen.
Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez
Gilbert Melendez has been standing on the outside looking in for far too long. The two-time titlist for the soon-to-be defunct Strikeforce organization has waged a lot of wars inside the six-sided cage and come 2013, he gets to lock horns with the elite at 155-pounds.
Henderson currently sits atop of that logjam and Saturday night on the biggest stage he’s competed on he made it clear that he doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon but he isn’t the only champion in town. Melendez is widely regarded as one of the best at lightweight and many believe he is the uncrowned king of the division.
It’s that whole ‘Stranger comes to town’ story that ever Western in the history of ever has been based upon. Y’know the one, the stranger shows up in town with a big reputation, terrorizes the village before Clint Eastwood shows up to kick a saloon door, shoots him in the face and beds an attractive woman. Crowd cheers. Order is restored. Roll credits.
Rory MacDonald vs. Josh Koscheck
I stated in my predictions that I thought MacDonald was overrated. Well, after a fifteen-minute beating on BJ Penn I retracted those statements. Also, Rory’s got some serial killer vibes so I’m doing my best to stay on his good side now.
He awkwardly called out Carlos Condit post-fight but personally I don’t think it’s time to go back to that fight yet, a match-up with former title-challenger Josh Koscheck would be another real tough test for the Tristar product.
In his early-twenties and with his training partner George St. Pierre as the king at 170-pounds it doesn’t make sense for him to be fighting top contenders at this point so a fight against Koscheck is relevant, gets him some cage time and will be a real challenge.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones-Chael Sonnen winner
‘Shogun’ didn’t show up in terrible, sucking wind and winging haymakers within 7 minutes shape last night, he showed up ready to battle but the younger Swede was just too much for him. The former Pride Fighting Championships middleweight GP king got his licks in but Gustafsson took all three rounds on every score card.
Gustafsson, in my opinion, punched his ticket to face the winner of Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen in April. As the seemingly unstoppable Jones has thrashed everything that’s stood in his path as champion, Sweden’s top fighter poses a few stylistic hurdles that would cause problems for the champ.
Matt Brown vs. Mike Pierce-Seth Baczynski winner
Who would’ve thought that Matt Brown, a guy that was gifted a spot on the welterweight roster following three-straight defeats just two years ago would collect four victories in a borderline fighter of the year performance? I sure didn’t.
Brown continues to improve, has shown more in-cage smarts and most importantly just defeated Mike Swick, a fighter who was near title contention in two separate weight-classes.
Brown just needs to get back on that horse and go to work against some good opposition, the winner of next weekend’s Mike Pierce vs. Seth Baczynski bout in Australia would be fine. Either a stylistic test in Mike Pierce or the last man to defeat him before he put together this six fight win streak.
Well, that wraps us up for this edition folks. Be sure to check back next week for a double header with tons of matches to be made after double UFC events and debate away in the comments below.