UFC on FOX 17: Matches To Make

Josh Hedges|Zuffa LLC|Zuffa LLC

Rafael dos Anjos is here to stay as the champion of the UFC's deepest division. The Brazilian emphatically asserted himself as the best lightweight in the world, stopping the durable fan favourite Donald Cerrone in under 90 seconds at UFC on FOX 17. One of dos Anjos' most dangerous new found weapons, the left body kick from the southpaw stance (the same kick which Anthony Pettis had used to finish Cerrone back in 2013), spelled the beginning of the end for "Cowboy." After eating a knee to the midsection and a follow up body kick, Cerrone was clearly hurt, doubling over by the fence as dos Anjos swarmed with punches. After shooting a desperate takedown, Cerrone was forced to mat where he was pounded with ground strikes as Dos Anjos implored referee Herb Dean to stop the fight. The official stoppage came just one minute and six seconds into the bout, making it the fastest finish in UFC lightweight title history. Dos Anjos has evolved far beyond the one dimensional grappler he was in his early UFC appearances, now becoming one of the scariest strikers at lightweight. Let us now look to the future and at potential opponents for Dos Anjos and all of the other main card fighters. Rafael Dos Anjos: There are several excellent fights out there for Dos Anjos right now. Tony Ferguson would be a very interesting challenge, as would the looming Khabib Nurmagomedov, who already holds a dominant win over Dos Anjos and who many consider to be the uncrowned king of the division. Conor McGregor, who may very well be moving up to 155-pounds, is the biggest fight available for Dos Anjos and would present a very intriguing matchup. While any of those three fights would be excellent next moves for the champion, McGregor is certainly the most exciting option. Donald Cerrone: Cerrone had his eight-fight winning streak snapped in violent fashion on Saturday night and is now in an odd place at lightweight. He will always be one of the UFC's premium action fighters, but it seems that he struggles in high pressure fights against aggressive strikers so it is hard to see him being booked in a title fight for quite some time. He should meet a fellow action fighter a few rungs down on the ladder from himself. The loser of the Dustin Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy bout would do nicely and would result in a very fun fight. Alistair Overeem: Overeem turned in his best showing in many years, pasting Junior Dos Santos with a vicious left hook. The Dutchman may have earned a title shot with this win, but if the UFC opts to give the next shot to the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Andrei Arlovski, he should meet the winner of the bout between Josh Barnett and Ben Rothwell in a title eliminator. Junior Dos Santos: This was Dos Santos' first loss under Zuffa to someone not named Cain Velasquez and it was a bad one. He struggled to put together consistent offense against Overeem before getting finished at the end of the second round. Andrei Arlovski, should he lose to Stipe Miocic, would be a perfect test for Dos Santos as, much like Overeem, Arlovski is a knockout artist with a questionable chin. Nate Diaz: Diaz upset Michael Johnson and looked excellent doing it, using his long reach and volume boxing game to batter his opponent. I doubt he will get the Conor McGregor fight he was campaigning for because the Irish superstar's sights are set on the lightweight title. Therefore, I see Diaz meeting Beneil Dariush. Dariush is also coming off a win over Johnson, albeit a far more controversial one, and presents a very different stylistic match up than most of Diaz's recent opponents did with his takedown game and world class Jiu Jitsu. Michael Johnson: Johnson probably won the first few minutes of his bout with Nate Diaz, but soon became overwhelmed by the length, boxing and taunting of the taller man. I would love to see him meet Bobby Green when the enigmatic Green next returns to competition. Karolina Kowalkiewicz: Kowalkiewicz looked good in out striking Randa Markos for the better part of their strawweight clash. Joanne Calderwood would be a solid next opponent for the Polish newcomer. Randa Markos: Markos struggled with the hands of Kowalkiewicz in the first and third round of their bout, resulting in a unanimous decision loss. She should next face off against Maryna Moroz to see who can get back on the winning track at 115-pounds.

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