UFC 124 was a night of great mixed martial arts, with submissions, knockouts and strong performances by many fighters. Going into 2011 a lot of key battles are on the horizon and would shake up many of the weight classes within the UFC.
Georges St. Pierre versus Jake Shields
The Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has nearly cleaned out the whole welterweight division. Looking at the current contenders list, only one name remains and that is Jake Shields. The newly acquired Shields did not impress many viewers with his debut against Martin Kampmann at UFC 121. However, he does hold a 15 fight win streak dating back to his last defeat which came in 2004. Many individuals question Shields’s stand up abilities and how well he will fair against GSP. However, with a track record that includes holing championships in two organizations and at two different weight classes, Shields has proved that he belongs in the conversation for a title shot against “Rush” St. Pierre.
Mac Danzig versus Kurt Pellegrino
The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 winner went a long way towards moving away from contract termination with his impressive victory at UFC 124. He stopped a fellow TUF winner, Joe Stevenson with a counter left hook early in the first round. Before that fight, Danzig had only one win since 2008 and needed another victory badly. To see if he is truly moving towards the top of the lightweight division, a matchup against Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino would be a true test. Before his recent defeat by George Sotiropoulos, Pellegrino was riding a three fight win streak. Since then, Pellegrino has been recovering from knee surgery. A matchup between these two talents would showcase high level submission skills as they have a combined 20 wins by tapout.
Jim Miller versus Sean Sherk
Jim Miller put a stop to the hype train that was Charles Oliveira with a first round submission at UFC 124. Miller then went on to say that he wants his shot at the UFC lightweight title. Miller has only two losses on his resume and those come to current number one contender Gray Maynard and reigning champion Frankie Edgar. Sean Sherk is a former champion who stunned a lot of spectators with a controversial victory over Evan Dunham at UFC 119. Both fighters could gain a lot of momentum with a victory in this contest. A victory would put either fight near the very top of the title contenders list.
Stefan Struve versus Ben Rothwell
Stefan “The Skyscraper” Struve defeated Sean McCorkle at UFC 124, winning by TKO in the first round after finding himself in early trouble. Struve is a growing prospect in the heavyweight division. Other than his defeat from Roy Nelson, Struve has proved that he deserves a place near the top of the division. A matchup against former International Fight League star Ben Rothwell would be a challenging matchup for Struve. Rothwell has proven his abilities against tough competition that includes Roy Nelson, Andrei Arlovski and Cain Velasquez. Once Rothwell returns from two surgeries, this matchup could help add excitement to the heavyweight division.
Thiago Alves versus Paulo Thiago
Thiago Alves put on a striking clinic during his fight with John “Doomsday” Howard. Alves used snapping leg kicks to hamper any movement from the explosive Howard. As the fight went on Alves continued the pressure, even dropping Howard with a stiff right hand. Alves looked to be in great shape and pointed towards the Dolce diet for helping him reach this level of fitness. Alves stated that he would like to face Jake Shields next, but Shields is next in line for a welterweight title shot. A match against Paulo Thiago would be an interesting substitute. While Thiago has lost his last two battles, he’s put on impressive shows against Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann. Thiago is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is willing to strike with his opponents. This matchup would have an interesting dynamic to see if Alves has corrected the ground issues in his game that were made apparent with his defeats.
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