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Opening Round: What’s Next? (UFC on Fuel 1 Edition)

The UFC’s debut on Fuel TV went off successfully with the only real complaint involving the main event being too incredible for the trappings of a three-round bout. Though Jake Ellenberger emerged as a true force to be reckoned with in the welterweight division, the near comeback by Diego Sanchez gave testament to “The Dream” still having a good deal of gas left in his tank.

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.

Ivan Menjivar def. John Albert via Submission Round 1 (Rear-Naked Choke)

Sanchez-Ellenberger may have been Fight of the Night but Menjivar-Albert turned in “round of the night” after going back and forth in the first frame with Albert nearly picking up a victory before “The Pride of El Salvador” made his nation glow with a submission finish. A great fight between two guys with a lot of wins ahead of them.

What’s Next for John Albert: A fight against a fellow prospect works so I’ll go with Alex Soto,also a newcomer who has a bright future but needs some experience
What’s Next for Ivan Menjivar: With wins in four of his last five and the only loss a decision to Brad Pickett back in WEC it’s time for a step up in competition a la Scott Jorgensen

T.J. Dillashaw def. Walel Watson via Unanimous Decision

Dillashaw’s wrestling is a difference-maker, especially when considering some of his ground-and-pound abilities. However, he still seems a bit small for 135 and I think an eventual run at flyweight might make sense. Watson on the other hand has seemingly regressed since his debut.

What’s Next for Walel Watson: I can see him getting one more chance after winning his debut and losing a hard fought decision prior to this bout; something with Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto could be fun based on their styles, speed, and fact each needs a win to maintain a divisional pulse.
What’s Next for T.J. Dillashaw: The Team Alpha Male fight shouldn’t be brought along too quickly so another mid-tier opponent makes sense such as the winner of Takeya Mizugaki-Chris Cariaso at UFC 144

Stipe Miocic def. Philip De Fries via Knockout Round 1 (Strikes)

I was surprised at how bad De Fries looked despite his early attack on Miocic who weathered the storm and maintained his unbeaten record. I was also impressed the crowd knew Miocic was American and still did a mild “USA” chant in the bout.

What’s Next for Philip De Fries: Give him a fight in England to capitalize on his nationality against another European like Jon Olav Einemo and call it a day
What’s Next for Stipe Miocic: I think Dave Herman would be a great test for him even though he’s coming off a loss since he’s a solid adversary but clearly beatable as well.

Ronny Markes def. Aaron Simpson via Split Decision

I thought Markes did a great job against Simpson, showing poise for a 23-year old against a seasoned competitor like the “A-Train”. Truly, is there any camp hotter than Nova Uniao right now? Also, even though it was a Split Decision it’s hard to disagree with the judges’ decision either though Simpson does deserve credit for a gutsy showing.

What’s Next for Aaron Simpson: He’d won three in a row entering the bout and was clearly in the fight throughout so there’s no reason to give him anything other than a challenge such as Jason Miller would provide (plus they were supposed to fight in 2011 as is)
What’s Next for Ronny Markes: If he can hang with Simpson, as he did, he’s ready for another veteran a la Ed Herman

Stefan Struve def. Dave Herman via TKO Round 2 (Strikes)

Struve deserves full credit for taking a few shots on the chin and didn’t fall or even stumble for that matter. If he continues to refine his striking, maintaining distance when necessary and using his long arms to throw looping shots, he’s going to be a force to reckon with for years to come. I was disappointed in how tentative Herman looked. Hopefully the loss knocked some sense/drive back into him. He’s a young guy with lots of success and it may have understandably gone to his head.

What’s Next for Dave Herman: I’ve already mentioned Miocic but if that doesn’t come through a bout with Matt Mitrione could be fun
What’s Next for Stefan Struve: He’s ready for another “name” opponent and I think Gabriel Gonzaga fits the bill

Jake Ellenberger def. Diego Sanchez via Unanimous Decisiom

Other than the obvious need for two more rounds there’s nothing to complain about here. The exchanges were well-paced, well-placed, and welcome to all who watched based on the power/technique involved. Ellenberger looked incredible, using the emotion of the crowd to his advantage instead of crumbling or playing it too safe. Also, Sanchez’s heart was commendable, choosing to leave it all in the cage instead of fight with his chin down. Kudos to both and the organization for a fun fight and a rematch I’d love to see any day down the road.

What’s Next for Diego Sanchez: With Martin Kampmann-Thiago Alves fighting in early March I’d love to see Sanchez against the winner or loser; he has a rivalry with Kampmann based on their fantastic first offering and controversial result while Alves vs. Sanchez would be caged dynamite
What’s Next for Jake Ellenberger: Since Carlos Condit appears to be twiddling his thumbs for ten more months it’s clear there is no other choice for Ellenberger than the winner of Johny Hendricks vs. Josh Koscheck

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


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