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Opening Round: What’s Next? (UFC 143 Edition)

UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit was as solid a show as the UFC has offered in some time and could have been legendary with a different strategy from new interim champ Carlos Condit. However, he took the smart route, outpointing Nick Diaz while constantly moving around and satisfied a vacancy in his trophy case if not the appetites of those in attendance. Now the question becomes, what’s next?

In What’s Next I’ll be looking at how all of the featured fights went while also offering up commentary on how I see things unfolding for each of the involved athletes down the road.

Ed Herman def. Clifford Starks via Submission Round 2 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Herman has looked great since coming back from knee surgery, picking up stoppages in all three of his bouts since returning in June. He’s clearly ready for a step up in competition while Starks, despite a few flashes, clearly has some growing to do in terms of competing at a consistently high level.

What’s Next for Clifford Starks: A grappling-centric focus in training and a future date with a fellow mid-tier fighter like Chris Camozzi.
What’s Next for Ed Herman: He seems to be on the right track-training wise; opponent-wise either the winner of this month’s bout between Yushin Okami-Tim Boetsch or perhaps Alan Belcher who he lost a Split Decision to a few years back.

Renan Barao def. Scott Jorgensen via Unanimous Decision

Barao impressed once again by overwhelming an always-game Jorgensen to pick up the decision win. The remarkable Brazilian has won 28 fights in a row and unquestionably the division’s top contender. Jorgensen is talented and will always win more than he loses but seems to have peaked as a Clay Guida type (i.e. close but no cigar).

What’s Next for Scott Jorgensen: A move to 125 would be ideal if doable; if not, a fight with Brian Bowles would make sense.
What’s Next for Renan Barao: If he’s willing to wait a few extra months he should get a title-shot since it would be shameful for the UFC to throw his winning streak out the window just to fill time when it could be used to market a major fight.

Josh Koscheck def. Mike Pierce via Split Decision

If Koscheck didn’t know who Pierce was before their fight he certainly does now. He barely scraped out a win and would have probably lost the fight 3-4 times out of ten if played out again in front of a different panel of judges. Credit to Pierce for once again fighting a top guy and looking good against him, as it seems to be his forte now.

What’s Next for Mike Pierce: His wrestling is where it needs to be, and he has some decent power, but could work on improving his overall boxing technique; a fight with Rick Story needs to happen based on an incident when the two of them trained together where Story beat up a new guy in the gym to prove a point.
What’s Next for Josh Koscheck: He only has a few more years left in him so the UFC should capitalize on his trash-talking ability and willingness to fight anyone if possible; the winner of the Thiago Alves-Martin Kampmann match-up in March would work as he could either avenge his short notice loss to Alves or face a new opponent who poses a number of challenges in Kampmann.

Fabricio Werdum def. Roy Nelson via Unanimous Decision

At only 6’0” it’s going to be hard for Nelson to ever be an elite heavyweight as indicated by his 3-5 record over his last eight fights with the wins coming against decent but not upper-echelon opponents. He fought valiantly against Werdum but in the end he’s only likely to win bonus checks, not belts. Werdum looked good and brought some much-needed Muay Thai with him, an encouraging sign for the future hopefully.

What’s Next for Roy Nelson: Maintaining his diet and possibly getting to 205 by the end of 2012; a fight with Pat Barry would be bananas but “HD” is unavailable so instead Nelson needs to be paired with an equally exciting option style-wise such as Cheick Kongo if the Frenchman gets by Mark Hunt at UFC 144.
What’s Next for Fabricio Werdum: More Muay Thai training and a June date with Frank Mir, as the bout would not only be excellent in nature but also determine a clear top contender for the winner of Alistair Overeem-Junior dos Santos.

Carlos Condit def. Nick Diaz via Unanimous Decision

What can be said about this fight that hasn’t been espoused already? Condit should be commended for maintaining his composure and criticized for omitting the importance of entertaining fans from his gameplan. Diaz deserves a pat on the back for bringing it on Saturday night and a kick in the butt for throwing a hissy fit after losing the decision. Ultimately the bout didn’t live up to the massive hype surrounding it but then again few fights ever do when anticipated as much as this one was.

What’s Next for Nick Diaz: A few months to chill out and then a rematch with Condit no matter what the interim champion’s camp might say now.
What’s next for Carlos Condit: The pressure he will face to fight Diaz again is going to be immense, especially with Dana White saying he’s open to making it happen. Sitting for ten months, possibly longer, makes very little sense for a guy who just had a seven-month period on the sidelines. There’s not only money but the building blocks for a legacy in fighting Diaz again and thus he’ll agree to it, mark my words.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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