The UFC was in Duluth, Georgia last night for UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs. Philippou, which proved to be a very entertaining night of fights.
With several big winners and losers, some interesting stories from top to bottom, there are a number of questions abound following the show and where the players go from here.
UFC Fight Night 35: Five Post-Show Questions
1. Where does Luke Rockhold fit in?
This is a tricky question, and in many ways it comes down to another question: which former Strikeforce fighter does Michael Bisping want to tangle with? The Brit seems to be the most in demand fighter in the UFC, though a lot of that has to do with the slightly limited field of challengers at 185-pounds right at this moment. However, it seems that Tim Kennedy’s mouth has secured him that bout and provoked Bisping’s ire, so Rockhold needs a different challenge. With two top middleweight match-ups set for this month, there are two real options for the former Strikeforce champion – the winner of Machida/Mousasi, or the winner of Jacare/Carmont. With Weidman and Belfort due to fight for the title later this year, Machida may opt to wait if he beats Mousasi, so the Jacare/Carmont winner would present the most immediate challenge for Rockhold.
2. Is T.J. Dillashaw Team Alpha Male’s most improved fighter?
There is certainly a strong argument for this. 2013 was a pretty successful year for Team Alpha Male, and bar one minor blip in Brazil, T.J. Dillashaw was the epitome of that success. After two knockouts in the space of a month in March and April, Dillashaw lost a controversial split decision in Brazil to Raphael Assuncao – though as Dillashaw stated in the cage last night, he believes he won that fight. Last night we saw the best version of Dillashaw ever without a doubt, with his striking a joy to behold. Despite getting hurt early with a kick, Dillashaw absolutely dominated Mike Easton on his way to a unanimous decision victory. While team mate Urijah Faber is the next in line for a UFC bantamweight title shot, Dillashaw can’t be too far off. In terms of the next fight for him, Michael McDonald is looking for another fight after losing to Faber in December, while Eddie Wineland fights Yves Jabouin in ten days on FOX. Either would make a good challenge for T.J.
3. Can Cole Miller back up his mouth?
Cole Miller is one of the most inconsistent fighters in the UFC, but last night he secured his first back-to-back wins since late 2008/early 2009. In his last fight, a dominant decision win over the outmatched Andy Ogle in Manchester, Miller provoked the ire of the crowd by calling out Conor McGregor and the entire continent of Europe (in that order). After submitting Sam Sicilia, Miller turned his guns on Donald Cerrone, seemingly to reignite some old rivalry the two have. While Cerrone at featherweight is a mouthwatering prospect, Miller may seem like an unlikely fight for the Cowboy to take. However Cerrone has had a torrid time of things at the upper end of the lightweight divison with losses to Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis and Rafael dos Anjos have pushed him down the top ten rankings. A move down in weight class may be the boost Cerrone needs, and Miller certainly offers plenty of opportunity to promote the fight going in. Miller is always dangerous, but his inconsistency means he is unlikely to be a serious UFC contender anytime soon.
4. What do Yoel Romero’s two third round finishes tell us?
Make no mistake, this was an impressive comeback from Romero against Derek Brunson. All three judges had Romero down two rounds and he absolutely needed a finish. The olympic silver medalist wrestler then turned on the same power we saw against Ronny Markes and Clifford Starks to thrill the fans with a knockout victory, and there is no doubt Romero is one of the newest fan favourites in the UFC. As one of no fewer than 86 UFC lightweights Romero has done well to stand out among the throngs, and more high profile fights will certainly be coming his way. Expect him to continue to fight on free TV due to his ability to entertain casual fans. Lots of options for a next opponent here, but what about K.J. Noons? The former EliteXC champion isn’t currently lined up and last fought in October, handing George Sotiropoulos his marching papers at UFC 166.
5. Is Charlie Brenneman a UFC caliber fighter?
Sadly, it seems the answer is no. Even at a lower weight class Brenneman was unable to get the job done and suffered the same problems on the feet that he has in the past. Against accomplised BJJ practitioner Beneil Dariush, Brenneman clearly thought staying on the feet was his best bet, but Dariush has some of the best set up striking I’ve seen on a BJJ fighter in a long time. While the future doesn’t look great for Brenneman, Dariush looks like a prospect with a lot of potential.
(Luke Rockhold photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)