With the UFC announcing that Dan Henderson would face Rich Franklin at UFC 93 in Ireland, two of the biggest available names for UFC 91 are now gone. However, there are still a few high profiled fighters without scheduled fights who would be a nice addition to the card. From the surefire pick to the long shot, here are my top 5 choices for additions to the card.
1. Lyoto Machida
Machida has been on the sidelines since May, but rumors are now circulating he will take on Thiago Silva at UFC 93, a fight that was supposed to happen at UFC 89, before Silva was injured. Let him fight sooner. As good as ‘The Dragon’ has been, the UFC has tried everything to prevent him from getting a title shot, which is probably part of the reason he hasn’t fought sooner. Machida would likely be granted a title shot on either the condition he A) Starts having more exciting fights in the eyes of the UFC brass or B) Wins his next 30 fights to put him at 43-0. I’m still not sure what will come first, but having Machida on the UFC 91 card would make the card significantly more appealing.
2. Paulo Filho
Regarded by many as the number 2 middleweight in the world, the Brazilian remains undefeated at 16-0. With the WEC disbanding of their middleweight division after their November card, Filho will likely end up in the UFC before long. Maybe Dana and co. decides to forgo Paulo‘s final WEC fight with Chael Sonnen and move Filho up to UFC 91? His entry would be reminiscent of when a relatively unknown Anderson Silva stepped into the octagon for the first time 2 years ago.
3. Nate Marquardt
Although not the biggest name at 185 lbs, Marquardt is one of the top middleweight fighters in the entire world. Marquardt looked fantastic in his last fight, a knock out win over Martin Kampmann. The difficulty would be finding him a suitable opponent. Maybe if the UFC scraps Paulo Filho’s last match in the WEC they can bring him over early against Nate? In the words of Joe Rogan “That would be an interesting fight.”
4. Josh Koscheck
One of the top 2 or 3 170 lbs fighters in the world, Koscheck’s name on the card would raise it up a few notches. Once again, finding an opponent for him may be difficult. A long shot, but maybe training partner Jon Fitch, who has been out of action since August 9th would step up and fight him. They have said they would do it for the right price. Can Dana make that happen? That’s highly unlikely, but finding a suitable opponent for Koshcheck, now or in the future may prove to be more difficult than Joe Silva wants.
5. Shinya Aoki
Aoki made comments this month that he would love to fight in the UFC one day. With Dream struggling to make ends meat, Aoki may have a chance sooner than he thinks. Aoki is one of the top five 155 lbs fighters in the world. He very well may have the best Jui Jitsu in all of Mixed Martial Arts, and a fight with Aoki at UFC 91 would be great for the hardcore fans. As good as Aoki is, the problem would be the casual fan: Who would continue to ask who the guy in the funny pants is.
The UFC should be praised. They have given the fans more great cards over the last two years, than in all the 13 preceding that.
But UFC 91 is supposed to celebrate 15 of Mixed Martial Arts in the United States. It should be a showcase of the top talent in the world, to an audience that may be the biggest they have ever had. And if the UFC wants to make a giant splash with one of the greatest fights in MMA history, they should consider doing the same thing with the overall card.