UFC Fight Night 65 was aired entirely on Fight Pass and the majority of the participants where unranked. You can look at that one of two ways. The product wasn’t very good, or it was a set up for exciting fights. At the end of the evening, it appeared as though the truth was somewhere in between both sentiments.

The main card featured four fights with both up and comers and veterans of the sport. For some, it was a chance to prove they’ve still got it, and for others it was a chance to prove that they are going big places in the sport. Joe Silva and Sean Shelby are masters of analyzing what makes sense for a fighter following a win or loss. This week I’m going to try to step into their shoes and do the same.

James Vick vs. Beneil Dariush

Vick wasn’t looking great for the majority of his fight against Jake Matthews on Saturday night, but he found a way to win. It’s a theme with Vick, but he always finds a way. His ability to capitalize when the time is right has made him an undefeated fighter with four consecutive wins in the UFC. It’s time for a step up. Dariush is currently ranked 14th in the lightweight division. He presents major challenges for any fighter and it would be an opportunity for Dariush to prove his stock, and for Vick to break into the rankings.

 Jake Matthews vs. Daron Cruickshank 

Matthews is a great prospect. He was considered to be a favorite among most betting sites coming into his fight with Vick, and he was proving why. At least he was until the final moments of the fight before he got submitted. Up until Vick hit him with an accidental eye poke it appeared that Matthews would be walking away the victor. Whether that played a role, or affected the momentum of the fight is entirely subjective. He still showed enough during the fight to make you think he has what it takes to stick around in the UFC for a long while. Cruickshank is a veteran of the sport and a fan favorite. He has had some huge wins in the past, and when he finishes a fight it’s usually in style. While Cruickshank isn’t ranked he is still a seasoned veteran and if Matthews were able to get past him it would put him right back on track. If Cruickshank lost it would solidify that he is past his prime. Both men would have a lot to prove.

 Sean O’Connell vs. Chris Dempsey 

O’Connell had a total of eleven finishes in his pro career before he stepped in to the Octagon with Anthony Perosh. It only took him fifty-six seconds to stop Perosh by TKO. If he lost the fight, he would have gone three and one in his UFC career, so as it stands he is a .500 in the UFC. Dempsey has a better record overall, but he’s also at .500 for his UFC record. At the end of the fight one man would be on a two fight winning streak and the other would be wondering about their future in the organization. It doesn’t make sense for either fighter to take on a ranked fighter yet, so they might as well face each other.

Anthony Perosh vs. Matt Van Buren

Perosh looked pretty terrible Saturday night. He had absolutely no answer for Sean O’Connell’s aggression. While isn’t on a losing streak, he has lost three out of his last five fights. At Fourty-Three years old it wouldn’t be a shock if he retired, or if the UFC hands him his walking papers. If he sticks around a match up that makes sense would be against Van Buren. Van Buren has lost both of his fights in the UFC. If he can’t get past Perosh he has no business in the UFC and the same can be said for Perosh. It’s a loser leaves town match up that would buy the winner a little more time in the organization.

Robert Whittaker vs. Winner of Dan Henderson vs. Tim Boetsch 

It’s hard to believe that Whittaker has already had seven fights in the UFC. Over the course of his UFC career he has lost twice, but now he is on a three fight winning streak. While Brad Tavares hasn’t exactly had a lot of hype behind him as of late he was ranked coming into the fight. While the rankings are subjective, it actually makes sense for Whittaker to face the guy one step ahead of Tavares in the rankings. Tim Boetsch is already booked against Dan Henderson, so Whittaker should take the winner of that fight. It sounds strange to imagine Whittaker vs. Henderson or Boetsch but it actually makes perfect sense. Neither Boetsch or Henderson have looked good in a long time. Whittaker would have a chance to defeat a big name, and whoever he fights would have a chance to prove that they can still hang with the younger guys in the division.

Brad Tavares vs. Andrew Craig

Tavares has only one one fight in his last four outings. That’s quite the contrast to the first four years he had in the UFC where he went seven and one. Whittaker looked really good on Saturday night, but a first round knock out loss looks very bad for Tavares. Coming into this fight he was ranked; it’s doubtful that he will remain in the top 15. Andrew Craig is in a very similar position with only one win in his last four outings. If they end up match up against each other, it’s difficult to imagine the UFC keeping the loser on the roster.

Stipe Miocic vs. Winner of Travis Browne vs. Andrei Arlovski

Following his one sided destruction of Mark Hunt some fans and media members where calling for Miocic to get the next title shot. I’m not so convinced that he is on that level though. Hunt is a legend in the sport, but he is forty two years old. Hunt looked like a shadow of  himself. Miocic is still great, but I think a match up with Browne or Arlovski would be a good test to see if he is truly a contender. I can’t yet subscribe to the idea that Velasquez vs. Miocic would be anything other than Velasquez winning in very dominant fashion.

Mark Hunt vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Coming into the fight with  Miocic, Hunt was ranked fifth in the division. He may be dropping back considerably in the rankings following a one sided beat down. The slide in ranking wouldn’t just be due to the manner in which he lost, but also his record. In the past two years he has was walked to the cage five times and only achieved one victory. He’s older now and the righting is on the wall that his time has come and gone. If he were to retire I don’t think anyone would complain, but knowing how tough he is it’s likely he will get in there for at least one more. Cro Cop has said that he would like to face the fighters he has lost to, and Hunt fits that mold. In 2005 Mark Hunt defeated Cro-Cop under the Pride banner. It would be a fun fight for the fans and most likely a match up that both men would be into.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.