Now that Georges St. Pierre has retained his welterweight belt for the fifth time and the defeated Josh Koscheck is nursing a broken orbital bone, what’s next for these two headliners and the rest of the fighters on the UFC 124 fight card?
Georges St. Pierre: With little or no immediate injuries sustained in his five-round domination of Josh Koscheck, St. Pierre is ready to get back into the Octagon very quickly, having volunteered to fight at April’s UFC 131 event in Toronto. Whether or not GSP is back this spring or later in the year, it’s likely that he’ll be facing number one contender Jake Shields. A super-fight between the French Canadian and Anderson Silva is also on Dana White’s radar.
Josh Koscheck: It was numerous stiff left jabs that caused the damage to Koscheck’s eye and ultimately saw him losing on the feet for five full rounds. I guess daring the welterweight champ to stand and bang with him wasn’t the best strategy after all. Other than Paul Daley who basically ignores the ground aspects of MMA, Koscheck hasn’t done well as of late against fighters that have superior striking skills. Losses to Paulo Thiago, Thiago Alves, and GSP demonstrates that he’ll need to refocus his efforts on that aspect of the game if he’s ever to be a champion in the 170 pound division.
Stefan Struve: Struve is slowly but surely packing on muscle to his lanky 6’11” frame. When he started fighting in the UFC, he weighed in around 235 pounds. At UFC 124, he tipped the scales at over 250. As the Dutch fighter gets closer to the 265 pound max for the heavyweight division, I think he’ll be much more of a force in the division. Now that he’s quickly dispatched the smack-talking McCorkle, I expect Struve to face a top-15 opponent. Cro Cop would certainly be an interesting match-up.
Sean McCorkle: Although McCorkle had the weight advantage over 5-2 Stefan Struve, ‘Big Sexy’ was unable to escape the guard of the 6’11” Dutch fighter in order to capitalize. Struve was eventually able to sweep McCorkle, landing in full mount ending the fight via strikes. Having entered the Octagon on only one previous occasion, McCorkle really had no business being a co-main event fighter at one of the bigger pay-per-views of the year. Despite being an odd selection as a headline fighter, McCorkle was unable to capitalize on the enormous opportunity. Now 1-1 in the UFC, a fight against 2-0 Mike Russow might be a more appropriate challenger.
Jim Miller: With a win against up-and-comer Charles Oliveira this weekend, Miller continues his quiet ascent up the 155-pound rankings. Now 8-1 in the UFC, Miller is ready to say that he’s the number 3 lightweight in the organization. Unfortunately for Miller, there’s a bit of a log jam in the division. Champ Frankie Edgar will face Gray Maynard on New Year’s Day, while WEC Champ Ben Henderson takes on Anthony Pettis later this week for the next shot at the UFC belt. Beyond that, Kenny Florian, Evan Dunham, and George Sotiropolous are also vying for contendership. With both Florian and Dunham suffering loses in their last fight, I’d like to see Sotiropolous and Miller fight for number one contender after the UFC-WEC lightweight unification fight takes place.
Charles Oliveira: Fighting a top-five lightweight on the main card in front of a record-breaking crowd proved to be too much for the 21-year-old up-and-comer. Despite the loss, I expect Oliveira to have a significant presence in the 155 pound division over the next few years. Instead of throwing him to the wolves, as the UFC did on Saturday night, it’s likely that the Brazilian will face a fighter with equivalent experience in his next bout.
Mac Danzig: Danzig was likely as stunned as the Montreal crowd was when he knocked out Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson, who just two years ago, fought BJ Penn for the lightweight belt. This is a huge win for a fighter that has struggled over his last five fights. Prior to Saturday’s win, Danzig went 1-4 in the UFC and was on the verge of being released with one more loss. Instead, the TUF 6 winner could get the kick-start he needs to make a run at the belt. Tyson Griffin would be an interesting next clash for the Pennsylvania fighter, especially knowing that Griffin needs a win extremely bad. Also, having Danzig face one of the newly acquired WEC lightweights like Jamie Varner or Bart Palaszewski, would be good options as well.
Joe Stevenson: Dana White has already made it clear that Joe “Daddy” isn’t going anywhere. Despite having lost five of his last eight fights, including Saturday night’s scrap against Mac Danzig, Stevenson’s aggressive fighting style is likely the reason he’s still employed with the UFC. Unfortunately it was that aggressiveness that got him KO’d by Danzig. Expect the UFC brass to give the entertaining TUF 2 winner at least one more shot to keep his job with the organization.
Thiago Alves: The Dolce Diet has done wonders for Alves’ pre-fight weight management. With no issues cutting weight prior to his bout against John Howard, the Brazilian looked fresh in the three-round decision. Following his Saturday win, Alves called out fellow welterweight Jake Shields as a potential next opponent. Unfortunately for ‘The Pit Bull’, the UFC has championship plans for the number-one contender. With virtually all of the top welterweights in the UFC booked over the next several months, perhaps a rematch against Josh Koscheck is appropriate while the dust settles in the division.
John Howard: Howard was beat to the punch in basically every single striking exchange in his fight against Thiago Alves. Despite getting thrashed for three rounds, I’ve got to hand it to the Boston native. He stayed in the pocket testing his chin against the heavy-handed Alves. Howard has now lost two fights in a row, and will likely receive one more opportunity to prove that he belongs inside the Octagon. A fight against Mike Pyle would be a good test for Howard’s long climb back up the 170-pound divisional ladder.