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7/13/16: Top Five Fights to Make Next For Brock Lesnar in the UFC
Brock Lesnar made a successful return to the UFC after four and a half years out of the cage last Saturday, beating Mark Hunt by decision at UFC 200. The surprising – not to mention impressive – effort after his lengthy absence from the sport almost assuredly means he’ll fight again, so today I’m looking at five matchups the UFC could book for him later this year.
5. Josh Barnett: The timing doesn’t work out for this fight to happen in New York in November, because Barnett’s fighting Andrei Arlovski in September, but if you push Lesnar back to the New Year’s Eve card this would be a great fight to make. Barnett would be the toughest wrestler Lesnar could face (and perhaps toughest grappler for him to face in the division outside of Fabricio Werdum), making for a stylistic matchup he hasn’t really had in the UFC. That Barnett has done pro wrestling himself and has most recently been doing English commentary for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV adds another level to that matchup.
4. Cain Velasquez: Sure, Velasquez is probably going to get the next title fight himself, but this is one of two losses Lesnar would like to get back. He attributes his last two UFC performances to how poorly his training went because of diverticulitis, and thinks he can take and keep Velasquez down if they fought again. Even if it ended exactly how their first fight ended – and to be fair it probably still would in 2016 – that’s the type of thing that could bring Lesnar closure to his UFC career one way or another.
3. Junior dos Santos: This was a fight that was supposed to happen in 2011 after The Ultimate Fighter 13. Though dos Santos returned to form against Ben Rothwell in April, he’d looked looked diminished enough in some previous performances that the gulf between he and Lesnar may not be so great. It’s a new matchup for Lesnar, it would be a fight Lesnar could potentially win in similar fashion to the Hunt fight, and it’s a bout dos Santos wants as well. Two former UFC Heavyweight Champions fighting one another in New York or on New Year’s Eve? Yeah, the UFC can sell the hell out of that.
2. Fedor Emelianenko: Sign “The Last Emperor” to fight Lesnar at UFC 205 in NYC. Emelianenko is coming off a fight in which he nearly got beat by Fabio Maldonado, so don’t think for a second this is a fight Lesnar’s incapable of winning. They wanted to book this fight seven years ago, and then again six years ago, and it didn’t come together. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as big as it would have been then, but as a supporting fight for the UFC’s Madison Square Garden debut? It’s huge. Make it happen, UFC.
1. Stipe Miocic/Alistair Overeem winner: Or. Or…. Come on, why the hell not? This sport is chaos, last week proved that on several occasions. This is the heavyweight division, it’s always been a revolving door of contenders, challengers, and champions, so why not book the biggest name in the next title fight after September’s UFC 203 event. As Rich Hansen commented this week, do you think Vince McMahon wouldn’t want to have Lesnar show up to WWE television with a UFC Championship? Of course he would, and if Lesnar loses he’s not the current WWE champion right now anyway so it doesn’t really hurt them the way Lesnar losing to Hunt might have. Plus, if it’s Overeem, Lesnar probably wants a chance to prove their last fight wasn’t him at his best. Honestly, Dan Henderson’s about to get a title fight in 2016, so screw it, just book it.
[Photo (c) Joshua Dahl via USA Today Sports]
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