Tim Kennedy got the biggest victory of his career, defeating Michael Bisping at the TUF Nations Finale on Wednesday night in Quebec City. But Bisping might have an even bigger fight on deck.
Here’s what should be next for the major TUF Nations competitors:
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For the last couple of years, Kennedy has been one of the more underrated fighters in all of MMA. He can’t be that anymore, not after beating middleweight stalwart Michael Bisping. Kennedy dominated at times and his wrestling and grappling looked next level. It’s time to start talking about him as a title contender.
Who’s next: Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
Kennedy doesn’t want to fight guys who came over to the UFC with him from Strikeforce, but a bout against Souza makes a lot of sense. The two have already fought once with "Jacare" winning, but many thought Kennedy should have taken the decision. Kennedy-Souza wouldn’t be a clear-cut title eliminator — not with Vitor Belfort still hanging around — but it would get the winner close.
Bisping didn’t quite look like himself Wednesday night. Taking nothing away from Kennedy, Bisping has stuffed the takedowns of more accomplished wrestlers in the past and stayed off his back. He couldn’t do that at the TUF Nations Finale and one has to think he might not have been fully healthy.
Who’s next: Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva won’t fight again until 2015, but Michael Bisping should be his opponent when he comes back.
Maybe Bisping rushed back too quickly from the eye injury. Or maybe he really has peaked and is on the down side of his career. Either way, there’s logic behind this fight. Between it being Silva’s comeback fight and Bisping’s mouth, it would sell like crazy. The UFC won’t want to throw Silva right in there against a top contender coming off a broken leg and Bisping isn’t one of those anymore. Plus, Bisping will get some more time to get his eye fully healed since Silva probably won’t return until early 2015. Maybe the Super Bowl weekend card in Las Vegas would be a good fit.
The UFC has had opportunities to put this together in the past and it didn’t happen. Bisping would have made for a great foil, like a British version of Chael Sonnen. It can still be done, but time is running out. This could be the UFC’s last chance.
Patrick Cote wallops Kyle Noke in their co-main event fight Wednesday night.
Cote wanted to prove to everyone he was no longer just a striker and he did that convincingly in beating Kyle Noke. He still has a ways to go before he’s considered a welterweight title contender, though.
Who’s next: Jason High
Cote needs a step up in competition and High is not someone he’ll be able to bully like he did Noke at times. High is versatile. Like Cote, he can strike and grapple. Both are guys who are trying to find their footing in the UFC in their 30s. Both have also been cut by the UFC in the past and worked their way back. The fight would have an interesting story and on paper could be pretty exciting.
Dustin Poirier blasts Akira Corassani right before the fight was stopped.
Poirier was actually rocked very early in the first round by Akira Corassani, but managed to dig deep and fire back. The uppercut Poirier threw that led directly to the TKO was absolutely perfect. Textbook stuff. At 25, Poirier is a very scary guy in the featherweight division.
Who’s next: Dennis Siver
It’s about time for a step up in competition for the kid from Louisiana. Siver is facing a suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission for failing a drug test after UFC 168 in December, but could be ready to fight right around the time Poirier would be stepping back into the Octagon. Poirier has already lost to Cub Swanson, so he’s not quite in that top-five, should-be-getting-a-title-shot soon range. A win over Siver, who has become somewhat of a 145-pound gatekeeper, would put him in the conversation.
Sarah Kaufman (right) kept herself among the women’s bantamweight elite Wednesday night against Leslie Smith.
With her boxing as sharp as ever, Kaufman dominated Leslie Smith, who was a short-notice injury replacement. The Canadian looked great, though, regardless of the circumstances. And, at only 28, she’s still one to look out for in the women’s bantamweight division.
Who’s next: Miesha Tate-Liz Carmouche winner
Kaufman has the same problem as a few of the top women’s contenders at 135 do — they’ve already lost to champion Ronda Rousey. Tate and Carmouche are in that group and it might not be a bad idea to funnel them all together, mostly so they don’t knock off other potential contenders who have not yet lost to Rousey. Also, Kaufman-Tate might be bankable as a FOX UFC Saturday co-headliner or even FOX Sports 1 headliner. Kaufman-Carmouche could be a FOX Sports 1 co-headliner. Either would be a fairly high-profile fight for a division devoid of star power outside of the champ.