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UFC on FOX 31 took place on Saturday at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. In the four-fight main card, everyone on the losing end was beaten rather definitively.
Kevin Lee (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) put on a strong performance over five rounds, but ultimately he was unable to overcome Al Iaquinta (14-4-1 MMA, 9-3 UFC) when he lost a unanimous decision in the rematch between lightweight contenders.
Prior to the main event, Dan Hooker (17-8 MMA, 7-4 UFC) experienced his first loss at lightweight, Sergio Pettis’ (17-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC) bantamweight return went sour, and Jim Miller’s (29-13 MMA, 18-12 UFC) record-setting 31st UFC fight ended in just 75 seconds.
After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on FOX 31’s losing fighters.
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Should fight: Ross Pearson
Why they should fight: Miller got caught up in the whirlwind of Charles Oliveira’s grappling game early in their lightweight rematch, and before he knew it he was tapping out against the Brazilian.
Miller beat Oliveira by submission at UFC 124 in December 2011, but this time he was choked out in just 75 seconds, which is certainly a disappointment for the UFC’s record-holder for most fights. At this point Miller seems quite close to the end of his career, but he has said he wants to continue fighting.
The UFC will likely be happy to keep him around, and if Miller insists, he’s should be sharing the cage with mid-tier talent he can actually beat. A win in a matchup with fellow veteran Pearson (20-15 MMA, 12-12 UFC) is hardly a guarantee, but it would be a nice pairing between two fighters with more than 50 UFC appearances between them.
Should fight: Andre Soukhamthath
Why they should fight: Pettis’ return to bantamweight did not go as planned, and now he’s lost three of his past four and left in a weird spot in his career after being outgunned to a unanimous decision by Rob Font.
To Pettis’ credit, he’s only been fighting the absolute best at 135 pounds and flyweight. Perhaps that means a slight step back is in order, and an unranked name like Soukhamthath (13-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) would be perfect.
Should fight: Loser of Paul Felder vs. James Vick at UFC on ESPN 1
Why they should fight: Hooker got an ugly experience of what the top of the lightweight division really looks like when he took a prolonged beatdown from Edson Barboza en route to a third-round knockout loss.
Hooker had a couple moments in the fight, but he main takeaway is that he’s insanely tough and durable, which is probably not the best narrative. That type of loss will take a while to recover from, and it remains to be seen if it will change “The Hangman” for better or worse.
With a good amount of time off likely for his future, it’s hard to navigate who could be available for Hooker to fight next. At the moment, though, a pairing against the loser of February’s UFC on ESPN 1 matchup between Felder (15-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) and Vick (13-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) seems appropriate.
Should fight: Rafael dos Anjos
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Lee should move up tot he welterweight division and fight dos Anjos (28-11 MMA, 17-9 UFC) next.
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