Five UFC tilts we'd love to see

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

If the UFC brass knows a fight will sell, it doesn’t take long for the organization to crank up the hype machine.

Jon (Bones) Jones barely had enough time to enjoy his destruction of Mauricio (Shogun) Rua before he found himself face-to-face in the octagon with teammate Rashad (Suga) Evans.

MMA fans want to see these guys settle their score. And why not? The storyline is tremendous — it’s like Shakespeare with ground-and-pound.

The two refused to fight each other while training under coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn at Jackson’s Submission Fighting and MMA training camp. Then, Evans was injured preparing for a light-heavyweight title fight, opening the door for Jones to step in and face Rua.

Prior to the Rua fight, Jones let it slip he would take a fight with Evans, if offered. Evans, backed into a corner, responded that he’d have no choice but to accept.

The tension between the two mounted. Jones ranted on a media conference call about how he hates being asked about Evans, who took exception to those comments and called Jones “insecure.”

Since Jones’ title victory, Evans has left Jackson’s team and set up shop at Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla. He has also unloaded on Jackson for creating the messy situation by initially agreeing to train Jones, who he is now referring to on Twitter as “Judas Jones.”

Stylistically, it makes for an interesting fight. If anyone knows Jones’ weaknesses, it’s Evans. He’s also familiar with the light-heavyweight champion’s wrestling and timing.

Another done deal to come out of UFC 128 is a rematch between bantamweight champion Dominick (The Dominator) Cruz and Urijah (The California Kid) Faber. It’s also rumoured the two could act as coaches later this year on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

After snagging a unanimous decision over Eddie Wineland in the co-main event, Faber made it clear he’s going for Cruz’s belt.

Faber is the only man to beat Cruz, submitting him with a guillotine choke at WEC 26 four years ago. Cruz still seems bitter about the defeat and has made it a point to tell anyone within earshot how much he dislikes Faber.

However, a lot has changed since then. Cruz, in particular, has developed his game, putting it all together and Abecoming even more elusive and unpredictable on his feet.

Now that we’ve got the no-brainers out of the way, it’s time to play matchmaker. Here are three fights I think should happen next.

For Rua, a rematch with Quinton (Rampage) Jackson makes perfect sense. At PRIDE Total Elimination in 2005, Rua turned Jackson into a human punching bag in one of the most vicious beatdowns in MMA history.

Jackson meets Matt (The Hammer) Hamill at UFC 130 in Las Vegas on May 28, but has long said he aims to avenge the loss to Rua. Even if Hamill pulls off the win, that shouldn’t stop Rua and Jackson from squaring off one more time.

The revenge angle sells itself and the fight will be a war with both guys will look to prove a point at the other’s expense.

Nate (The Great) Marquardt has joined the not-so-exclusive club of fighters who have called out Michael (The Count) Bisping, which by now probably houses roughly 90% of the middleweight division.

Since Marquardt is hot off a dominant performance over Dan Miller, and most of the other top middleweights are tied up at the moment, he’s a logical choice to face Bisping.

Yushin (Thunder) Okami is stuck in career purgatory waiting for that elusive title shot against Anderson (The Spider) Silva. Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort has verbally agreed to fight Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva. The only problem is Wanderlei seems more interested in facing Chris (The Crippler) Leben. Brian (All American) Stann is slated to meet Jorge Santiago in May and Demain Maia squares off with Mark (The Filipino Wrecking Machine) Munoz at UFC 131 in Vancouver.

That leaves Marquardt, Rousimar Palhares and Chael Sonnen as possible opponents for the cocky Brit. However, Palhares seems an unlikely opponent after he suffered a bizarre TKO loss to Marquardt last September.

I’d like to see Sonnen get the fight, simply because the pre-fight trash talk would be epic. If Jorge Rivera got under Bisping’s skin with some light-hearted YouTube videos, Sonnen will burrow himself deeper than a tapeworm.

But Sonnen is serving a suspension by the UFC as he awaits sentencing following his guilty plea to money laundering charges. It’s expected he will receive no jail time, but the whole ordeal pretty much puts him out of the running.

Marquardt is currently toying with the idea of dropping to welterweight, but he’d stick around at 185 pounds for a crack at Bisping.

And, you have to feel bad for Jim Miller. He’s riding a seven-fight win streak, yet that lightweight title shot seems just outside his grasp.

Miller deserves to face the winner of UFC 130’s championship bout between Frankie (The Answer) Edgar and Gray (The Bully) Maynard, both of whom own decision wins over him. However, had those two not gone to a draw in January, Anthony (Showtime) Pettis would currently be challenging for the belt.

Should Pettis get past Clay (The Carpenter) Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale this June, it stands to reason he’s next in line.

So if Miller is forced to fight one more opponent to earn his title opportunity, he should get the loser of the Maynard-Edgar bout. That way he can avenge one of his losses before going for the gold.

neil.springer@sunmedia.ca


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