UFC 170: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
It was the first time the bantamweight champion picked up a win without an armbar. Rousey used the submission to win her first eight pro fights and stopped her first seven foes with armbars in the opening round.
Although she's looked dominant in her first three UFC title defenses, Rousey still has a number of worthy contenders battling for a shot at her championship. Cat Zingano, UFC 170 winner Alexis Davis and Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino would all be intriguing challengers.
With another UFC event in the books, here are the matchups that should be next for Rousey and the rest of Saturday's competitors.
Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Tae Hyun Bang
If he wants to remain on the UFC roster, Yosdenis Cedeno is going to have to improve his defensive wrestling.
The UFC newcomer was taken down in the first two rounds, digging a hole that he couldn't crawl out from, despite a more competitive third stanza. Cedeno's split-decision loss to Ernest Chavez on Saturday was his first defeat since his meeting with The Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins in February 2010.
A bout with Tae Hyun Bang, who also recently lost in his own UFC debut, could allow Cedeno more chances to showcase his striking. No matter who he fights, the Cuban will probably be fighting for his UFC job next time around.
Ernest Chavez vs. Mitch Clarke
Ernest Chavez's MMA record is still spotless.
The 30-year-old made his first trip to the Octagon at UFC 170, where he leaned on his ground game to edge Cedeno on the scorecards. Now 7-0 as a professional, Chavez will look to make a name for himself in the UFC lightweight division.
Mitch Clarke has not fought in eight months, but he would be more capable of testing Chavez on the canvas than Cedeno.
Erik Koch vs. Alan Patrick
Erik Koch seems to have made a good decision in returning to 155 pounds.
At UFC 170, the former featherweight stopped Rafaello Oliveira in the first round. While a competitive fight with Koch might have been enough for the Brazilian to get another UFC opportunity, Oliveira is likely going to be released following a fourth loss in his past five fights.
Still only 25 years old, Koch can take some time to work his way up the tall lightweight ladder. A bout with Alan Patrick could result in a more competitive striking matchup.
Josh Sampo vs. Dustin Ortiz
After picking up a submission win in his UFC debut, Josh Sampo suffered his first setback inside the Octagon on Saturday.
The 29-year-old surrendered five takedowns over three rounds in his bout with Zach Makovsky. While Sampo showed a decent guard against a good grappler, he wasn't going to come out on top in a decision after spending more than five minutes with his back on the canvas.
Dustin Ortiz has also posted a 1-1 UFC record through two appearances, making him a likely adversary for Sampo.
Zach Makovsky vs. Ian McCall
Bellator MMA veteran Zach Makovsky is quickly becoming a serious title threat in the flyweight division.
Following a big win over Scott Jorgensen in his first UFC showing, Makovsky wrestled his way to another victory on Saturday. By beating Josh Sampo, "Fun Size" probably earned himself a shot at a top contender in the 125-pound class.
While he hasn't had too many fights inside the Octagon, Makovsky might not be far from a shot at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. If he can beat Ian McCall, Makovsky might get a chance to claim UFC gold before the end of 2014.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Russell Doane
At 24 years old, Aljamain Sterling just became a prospect worth keeping an eye on in the bantamweight division.
The Serra-Longo Fight Team member made his UFC debut on Saturday. Displaying a strong ground game, Sterling sealed victory by controlling Cody Gibson for more than four minutes in the third round alone. It was a strong finish he needed after giving away the second stanza on the scorecards.
As he looks to progress in the 135-pound class, Sterling could now meet Russell Doane, who also looked solid in the grappling department with a submission win in his own UFC debut against Leandro Issa.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Cody Gibson
At UFC 170, Pedro Munhoz and Cody Gibson both began their UFC careers with losses.
Munhoz found himself in a mismatch with bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao. He was picked apart by his fellow Brazilian all the way, resulting in a decision loss.
Gibson wound up in a more competitive matchup. However, despite a strong second round, he was not able to finish strong enough against Aljamain Sterling and also ended up falling on the scorecards.
Undoubtedly, Munhoz and Gibson will both get another shot inside the Octagon. They could meet one another in a battle for their UFC roster spots.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Renan Barao
A win over originally scheduled opponent Francisco Rivera would have been much more meaningful, but Raphael Assuncao may still be the next bantamweight title challenger by process of elimination.
In a workmanlike showing, Assuncao did what he needed to do in order to keep his winning streak going against Munoz on Saturday. The 31-year-old landed 100 significant strikes and mixed in takedowns against his overmatched opponent to secure a decision victory.
Assuncao has now won six in a row. He's the most highly ranked bantamweight without a loss to champion Renan Barao on his record. If former titleholder Dominick Cruz isn't ready to go soon, Assuncao should be Barao's next challenger.
Jessica Eye vs. Miesha Tate-Liz Carmouche Loser
Jessica Eye has had a rough February.
First, she had her first UFC win taken away due to a failed drug test following her bout with Sarah Kaufman. Then, on Saturday, Eye was beaten by Alexis Davis in a controversial decision that saw disagreements between the judges and MMA media, according to MMADecisions.com.
Because her loss at UFC 170 was debatable, Eye shouldn't take a big step backward. A bout with the loser of a matchup between former title challengers Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche could be coming.
Robert Whittaker vs. Bobby Voelker
With a knockout loss on Saturday, Robert Whittaker could go from the pay-per-view main card to battling for his UFC job in a hurry.
Some believed a matchup with kickboxer Stephen Thompson would allow Whittaker to unleash his ground game this weekend. Instead, the Australian opted to stand and paid for his decision a second consecutive loss.
If his next fight is a loser-leaves-town matchup, Whittaker should be paired with fellow brawler Bobby Voelker.
Stephen Thompson vs. Brandon Thatch
Stephen Thompson is a nightmare for anybody willing to stand with him.
At UFC 170, Thompson expertly picked apart Whittaker before scoring a knockout in the fourth minute of the first round. It was the third knockout victory for "Wonderboy" in only five UFC appearances.
Before he can be considered a contender, Thompson will need to have his wrestling tested again. These striking matchups are too darn fun right now, though, so let's see him fight up-and-coming knockout artist Brandon Thatch.
TJ Waldburger vs. Gasan Umalatov
TJ Waldburger's fight with Mike Pyle at UFC 170 was hugely pivotal for the 25-year-old Texan.
Beating the grizzled veteran would have suddenly made Waldburger a fringe contender in the welterweight division. Instead, he's now lost two in a row and could be fighting for his UFC roster position.
If he can't bounce back against Gasan Umalatov, who lost in his UFC debut against Neil Magny, Waldburger might benefit from a short return to regional competition.
Mike Pyle vs. Adlan Amagov
Even at 38 years old, Mike Pyle still isn't ready to go away.
The Top 15 welterweight took care of business once again at UFC 170, stopping Waldburger with some brutal ground-and-pound in the third round. Since losing to Brock Larson in May 2009, Pyle has only been defeated by Top Eight 170-pounders Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown.
Because he's only one fight removed from the loss to Brown, Pyle will probably be on gatekeeping duty for at least one more outing. Though, he'd still be looking at a real tough task against Adlan Amagov, who also stopped Waldburger recently.
Demian Maia vs. Dong Hyun Kim-John Hathaway Loser
Following back-to-back losses, former middleweight title challenger Demian Maia suddenly has to be wondering whether it is worth cutting an extra 15 pounds to compete in the welterweight division.
The first round of the Brazilian's bout on Saturday suggested he is best-suited for 170 pounds. Maia took MacDonald down and spent a good portion of the first round in the top position. However, the Canadian prevented Maia from spending much more time on the canvas in the second and third stanzas.
Forced to stand, Maia was picked apart with jabs and kicks en route to a decision loss.
Now looking at consecutive defeats, Maia will have to take a step outside the Top 10 in his next outing. A matchup with the loser of an upcoming matchup between Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway would allow the jiu-jitsu wizard to get his grappling going again.
Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Shields-Hector Lombard Winner
Although he's only one fight removed from a loss to Robbie Lawler, MacDonald is already back in the running for a shot at the welterweight championship.
The Canadian gave up a takedown in the first round of his bout with Maia on Saturday, but he stormed back to take a decision win. By beating Maia convincingly, MacDonald is looking like a fighter who could claim the 170-pound crown that was vacated by his Tristar Gym teammate, Georges St-Pierre.
With both fights taking place at UFC 171, the winner of a bout between Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley is likely to get a title shot against the winner of a championship matchup between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.
That means MacDonald could find himself in a title-shot eliminator of his own with the victor of another UFC 171 fight between Jake Shields and Hector Lombard.
Patrick Cummins vs. Robert Drysdale
Patrick Cummins would have been a promising addition to the light heavyweight roster had he begun his UFC career against a more reasonable adversary.
Facing a legitimate contender in Daniel Cormier, Cummins was steamrolled on Saturday. He'll get another shot inside the Octagon, but Cummins was forced into a somewhat embarrassing matchup to get things started at this level.
Like Cummins, Robert Drysdale has a lot of good tools on the ground, but he is also getting a late start to his UFC career at 33 years old.
A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler, Cummins might be willing to go to the ground with Drysdale should this matchup be booked. The UFC isn't going to find many fighters willing to roll with Drysdale, who is among the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world, so that alone makes this potential fight interesting.
Daniel Cormier vs. Rashad Evans
Daniel Cormier was able to ease into light heavyweight competition against Patrick Cummins at UFC 170, but he no doubt wants to face the division's elite now.
The most readily apparent option for Cormier's next adversary is to rebook the originally scheduled matchup with Rashad Evans. It was a fight that most were very excited about, but it was robbed away by an Evans injury at the last second.
According to ESPN.com, Evans is expected to be out six months as he recovers from knee surgery. While it may seem silly for Cormier to wait around for Evans while there are other options available, "DC" isn't likely to be fighting for a belt soon anyway.
Under the unsafe assumption that Jon Jones remains champion through his next two fights, a title-shot eliminator between Cormier and Evans is ideal. Both have developed heated rivalries with Jones, so the winner of a bout between the two would generate a sellable fight with the light heavyweight champion.
Sara McMann vs. Alexis Davis
Sara McMann broke Ronda Rousey's armbar streak but not in the way she was hoping.
After landing a few solid shots on the champion, McMann was forced into a clinch, where she was blasted with a knee to the body that sent her to the canvas. Before she could recover, McMann was rescued by referee Herb Dean, who many felt stepped in a tad early.
While she probably would have preferred to continue fighting on Saturday, McMann could get a rematch with Rousey more quickly as a result of that slightly controversial stoppage. If she can beat Davis, who picked up an important win over Jessica Eye at UFC 170, McMann would be right back in the running for another shot at the women's bantamweight champion.
Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano
Rousey is starting to find new ways to win, and that is scary for the rest of the women's bantamweight division.
At UFC 170, Rousey picked up her first knockout victory, stopping McMann with a knee to the body. If Rousey's striking ability nears her skill on the ground, she'd become nearly invincible against most 135-pounders.
Davis had a chance to jump ahead of Zingano on Saturday, but she only narrowly defeated Jessica Eye at UFC 170. If Zingano is healed from her knee injuries, she should be next to challenge Rousey.