Makwan Amirkhani vs. Rony Jason
Makwan Amirkhani returned to competition against his rival in Mike Wilkinson in competitive fashion. Though Wilkinson pressured early, Amirkhani utilized superior grappling offense to score a hard earned judges decision victory against the man who had knocked out his training partner Niklas Backstrom two years prior. Amirkhani has now notched three straight wins inside the Octagon and has calmly attracted quite a bit of attention to himself. What with his calm and cool demeanor, yet a cocky swagger of confidence drooling out of his presence, Amirkhani has become the next guy at Featherweight to look out for. Amirkhani has yet to face a known berserker inside of the eight sided cage just yet, and to see how he would do against such a fighter remains and almost demands to be seen. Rony Jason, who is coming off a nine month suspension that was handed out to him last year in May, makes for the perfect candidate. The Ultimate Fighter from Brazil presents quite the credible challenge for a hungry up and comer and Rony certainly needs an emphatic win in his return to competition.
Brad Pickett vs. Anthony Birchak
Controversial as it was, Brad Pickett secured a losing-streak breaking victory against Francisco Rivera Saturday night. Even bigger was th news that came after the bout as Pickett stated a loss in this fight could have signaled the end of Pickett’s career by choice. Pickett has made it well known now that any fight he competes in could be his last. With that said, it should be determined now if Pickett can hang with the currently rising talent in the middle tier of the Bantamweight division. Anthony “El Toro” Birchak will be looking to return to competition soon after falling to a similar opponent that Pickett remembers all too well in Thomas Almeida. A bout between these two will show if Birchak is ready to continue moving on up the ladder at 135, and if Pickett still has what it takes to compete amongst the young and up and coming talent arising today.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Derek Brunson
Mousasi didn’t put a cherry on top of it, but got the well-earned victory against No. 10 ranked Thales Leites in a high stakes bout that proved Mousasi is still a possible contender in ever-changing landscape that is the Middleweight division. Mousasi was quick to call for a rematch with Lyoto Machida or a long asked for bout with Vitor Belfort. Both of which could certainly happen, but would have to be after they have both competed in their already scheduled bouts. If Mousasi is looking back in there soon, Derek Brunson is a ranked opponent that would certainly gain Mousasi growing credibility en route to a maturing win streak that could possibly lead him to a hard earned title shot. Middleweight is now seemingly begging for a contender to rise up and Mousasi or Brunson could potentially be the men to get there soon before naught.
Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold
As I just stated about finding a contender to rise up and earn the shot at the title, Bisping has seemingly accomplished this feat and more after earning undoubtedly the biggest victory of his 12 year career. Many are to assume that Chris Weidman may possibly be the next contender and get his immediate rematch against Luke Rockhold after losing the title to him last December. While this may or may not still be the plan, Bisping has certainly given the UFC reason to question it further. In this fight with Anderson, Bisping won his third straight fight, his 14th in the Middleweight division which is the most of any fighter to have ever competed at 185, and with this being his 18th fight total in the UFC makes him the fighter with the most fights that has never fought for a title. While Bisping, in the long run may have cemented himself a UFC Hall of Famer someday down the line with his veteran status and growing accolades, it sure wouldn’t feel complete without at least one crack at glory for unarguably the greatest British born fighter to ever compete in MMA.