Ronaldo Souza choked out Gegard Mousasi in impressive fashion with a guillotine. Is a title shot next for the middleweight star?
Ben Rothwell shocked the MMA world when he knocked Alistair Overeem out in the first round. Is "Big Ben" a heavyweight contender now?
Matt Mitrione dispatched Derrick Lewis in just 41 seconds. Has he reached his prime as an MMA fighter at age 36?
We’ll try to answer those questions and more below.
Gegard Mousasi is a pretty good grappler. "Jacare" made him look like an amateur and then finished him with a guillotine choke in the third round. Souza has won seven straight and deserves a title shot. But he will likely have to fight again since Chris Weidman won’t defend the belt until December against Vitor Belfort.
Who’s next: Tim Kennedy-Yoel Romero winner
With Weidman tied up with Belfort and Luke Rockhold now fighting Michael Bisping in November, there aren’t many top-five matchups left for Souza. Lyoto Machida is coming off a loss and you wouldn’t want someone who has already lost to Weidman to knock off "Jacare" as a title contender. That leaves the winner of this great fight between Romero and Kennedy. Both are in the top 10. That’s a perfect fit.
Remember how good Mousasi looked in submitting Mark Munoz in the first round back in May? That’s how lethargic he looked against Ronaldo Souza on Friday night. Granted, "Jacare" deserves a lot of the credit for his superior grappling. But Mousasi continues to be an enigma. Still, he’s one of the best 10 middleweights in the world.
Who’s next: Tim Kennedy-Yoel Romero loser
Mousasi was a title contender and he should remain in the top 10, but now he has lost to two of the best middleweights in the UFC in Lyoto Machida and Souza. He has a lot of work to do before being considered for an opportunity at the title. But he is still only 29. Maybe we haven’t seen the best out of Mousasi yet. The loser between Kennedy and Romero will still be relevant at 185. That’s an interesting bout.
Wow. What a return for Rothwell. "Big Ben" was out for more than a year after testing positive for elevated testosterone levels, then went and leveled Alistair Overeem with some big punches en route to a first-round TKO. Rothwell went from irrelevant to a serious contender in the heavyweight division in a snap. Wild stuff.
Who’s next: Antonio Silva-Andrei Arlovski winner
It wouldn’t be a total shock to see Rothwell in the heavyweight top 10 when the new contender rankings come out Monday afternoon. That’s as much of a commentary on the state of the division than how good Rothwell is — string together a win or two and you’re in title mix. "Bigfoot" and Arlovski meet Saturday in Brazil. The winner will also be in a good spot and a slugfest with Rothwell would be fun.
Overeem has provided his fans with one disappointment after another since coming to the UFC. He has now lost three of four and there are some people on Twitter wondering if he should retire. Overeem’s chin has been questioned, but Rothwell shouldn’t have found it. Overeem is too good of a kickboxer to get KO’d like that.
Who’s next: Josh Barnett
The thing about Overeem is that as many times as he gets beaten, he’s still a big enough name and interesting enough personality to draw in his next fight. Barnett is the same type of guy. Both are legends of the sport and have never fought each other. Overeem-Barnett could headline a FOX Sports 1 show or even be a co-main event on FOX or pay-per-view. It’s almost a novelty fight, but both are still ranked heavyweights and not too far out of title contention.
Mitrione started his pro MMA career when he was 31 years old. He’s never had a pro fight anywhere but the UFC. Now, at age 36, the former NFL player seems like he is finally reaching his potential. Mitrione has steamrolled Shawn Jordan and Derrick Lewis with first-round knockouts in his last two fights. The top 15 could be next.
Who’s next: Stefan Struve
Mitrione was supposed to fight Struve at UFC 175 in July until Struve fainted in the locker room before the potential bout and doctors called it off. Struve is coming off a frightening heart ailment and maybe wasn’t all the way back. It seems like he’s going to continue fighting, though, so why not rebook that bout? It made sense in July and it would still make sense later this year. Struve remains ranked No. 13 among contenders.
Lauzon had arguably the best moment of the night Friday when he finished Michael Chiesa in the second round just two months after finding out his son was free of cancer. It’s an incredible story and Lauzon just keeps winning UFC fights and fight-night bonuses. He might never win a title, but Lauzon is a UFC great in his own right.
Who’s next: Carlos Diego Ferreira
At 30, it’s hard to see Lauzon as a real title contender. But what he can be is an excellent gatekeeper in the loaded lightweight division. Ferreira is an up-and-comer who has won his first two UFC fights, the most recent a TKO of Ramsey Nijem at UFC 177 last month. Lauzon and Ferreira are both excellent at Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so this would be a delight for grappling fans. It’s also a chance for both to get ahead at 155.
John Moraga grabbed onto Justin Scoggins’ next and didn’t let go.
It was looking like Moraga’s time as a flyweight contender might have been over. After losses to champion Demetrious Johnson and No. 1 contender John Dodson, Moraga absolutely needed a win against Justin Scoggins to stay in the hunt and he got it with a slick second-round guillotine. He’ll remain in the top five after all.
Horiguchi is No. 14 among flyweight contenders and is regarded highly as someone who could earn a title shot as early as 2015. The 23-year-old is arguably the best prospect coming out of Japan in MMA. If he can beat Delos Reyes in two weeks, he’ll need a step up in competition. Moraga represents that. After already earning a title shot, Moraga will likely keep getting prospects like Scoggins and Horiguchi.