UFC 203 And UFC Fight Night 94: Matches To Make For Key Winners And Losers

MMA

After a rough start to begin the fight, Stipe Miocic delivered victory for his hometown fans in UFC 203. But the much-anticipated mixed martial arts debut of CM Punk ended with a thud. Miocic was in danger in the headlining bout at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. But in what a wild 4:37, Stipe Miocic retained the UFC heavyweight title with a first-round TKO of Alister Overeem.In the co-main event, former heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum won a lackluster decision over Travis Browne. Former WWE star Punk looked the part of someone who had never fought before, losing to Mickey Gall by first-round submission.

UFC Fight Night 94 featured the return of Michael Johnson as he knocked out Dustin Poirier in just 95 seconds in the lightweight main event. In the co-main event, in middleweight action, Derek Brunson defeated Uriah Hall by first-round TKO. With UFC 203 and UFC Fight Night 94 in the books, let's take a look in the crystal ball and see what is next for the key winners and losers.

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Winners

- Stipe Miocic: The heavyweight champion started out slow but showed he has what it takes to retain the strap. Everyone was already making his next fight before he could step outside the cage .The fight to make next is the winner of the fight between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum, due to Miocic wanting to not fight for the remainder of 2016 and Velasquez wanting to be active. The fight is rumored to be taking place at UFC 207 on Dec. 30. Velasquez has never faced Miocic before, and is a bout that could have fireworks as they have similar fighting styles. Miocic and Werdum fought at UFC 198 with Miocic capturing the title by first-round knockout. 

- Fabricio Werdum: The former heavyweight champion rebounded from his title loss to Miocic. But it wasn't the spectacular win the Brazilian needed to earn another crack at Miocic. During the post-fight press conference, Werdum felt he should get the next shot at the belt since he was ranked No. 1 in the heavyweight rankings but the UFC had a different idea and is looking to book the rematch with Velasquez for UFC 207. It is the fight that makes the most sense at this point with the winner going on to face Miocic. 

- Mickey Gall: In his short UFC run, Gall has called his shot on when it pertains to opponents. After disposing Punk, the New Jersey native called out another young phenom, Sage Northcutt. The fight makes sense on all levels.  They have the same level of fight experience and faced the same type of competition. Gall's opponents have a career record of 0-3 and "Super" Sage has been well-protected early on in his UFC run. 

The only hang-up would be the weight class since Gall fights at welterweight. But, Northcutt's team told Dana White after Gall's callout that they are interested on the fight only to have Northcutt's dad state his son won't be ready for awhile due to him suffering another staph infection. This is still the fight to make and one that should take place by the end of the year or the beginning of 2016. 

- Michael Johnson: "The Menace" put on a great performance in dispatching Poirier, who was 4-0 at lightweight. Johnson snapped a two-fight losing streak, but take a look at those losses. He got robbed of a decision against Beniel Dariush and then lost a "Fight of the Night" against Nate Diaz. If Will Brooks can get by Alex Oliveira next weekend, then a fight with Johnson would be intriguing. Both fighters would be in the top ten of the UFC rankings and whoever wins the fight can make the case of being a fight away from fighting for the 155-pound title. 

- Derek Brunson: Beyond middleweight champion Michael Bisping, Brunson is the hottest fighter in the division. His victory over Hall was his fifth consecutive win, fourth by stoppage, which is the longest at 185 pounds. Brunson is right outside of the big four of Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Yoel Romero. A fight against the winner of the UFC 204 bout between Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort should be in the cards for the North Carolina native. A win there and Brunson would be right on the cusp of a title opportunity. 

Losers

Alistair Overeem: The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion had his moments in the fight to bring the gold back to Holland. At the end of the day though, he came up just a bit short. Overeem won't be sniffing a title shot for the foreseeable future. A fight against Mark Hunt would be all types of fun. It would feature a battle of two hardest strikers in the division and former heavyweight title challengers. The winner would move closer to another crack at the gold while the loser moves closer to retirement. 

- Travis Browne: What a fall from grace for "Hapa". Browne looked to be on the verge of a title shot after scoring three consecutive first-round knockouts over Gabriel Gonzaga, Overeem and Josh Barnett. Then he lost his battle to Werdum in April 2014 and it's been a downwind spiral since. Browne is 1-3 in his last four fights. He left Jackson-Winkeljohn to join girlfriend and former women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey's gym, the Glendale Fight Club. Going to the California gym seemed to slow his progression as a fighter. The loser of Saturday's UFC Fight Night 95 fight between Antonio Silva and Roy Nelson should be in the cards for Browne. He could avenge his 2012 loss to Silva, and Nelson would stand toe-to-toe with Browne. Either foe would be a good bounce back win for Browne.

- CM Punk: Many expected the former WWE champion to lose against Gall. Not only did he lose, he looked horrific. Punk had no reason being inside the octagon, and said the after the fight that he would fight again. The question is whether it will occur in the UFC? White said after the card, Punk should probably look elsewhere if he wants to continue his journey. There's money to be made in the former WWE star, but if he's going to fight again, he needs to improve dramatically before he steps inside the cage. 

- Dustin Poirier: That was a hard loss for Poirier. He seemed be in a really place heading into Saturday night. Johnson controlled the entire fight and Poirier could never get out of first gear. The American Top Team fighter has already fought three times in 2016 and taking the rest of the year off would be a good recipe especially after taking the beating he did. A fight against Gilbert Melendez would be good for both guys as the UFC likes to match fighters who are coming off losses. 

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