12/11/2012 : One of the most exciting elements of the UFC on Fox 5 pay per view was the way that the matchups on the main card stood out to even casual MMA fans, with names like Alexander Gustafsson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, BJ Penn and Rory MacDonald, as well as UFC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson defending his title against Nate Diaz. The names alone were enough to draw fans to watch the card, and that’s something that the UFC hasn’t been able to do with some of its past UFC on Fox cards. While the action didn’t disappoint despite all three of those tilts going to judge’s decisions, the question now becomes what is next for the winners. Henderson, Gustafsson, and MacDonald all came out on top in their respective fights, each of them by decision, and while Henderson will defend his title, Gustafsson and MacDonald have the chance to move one step closer to title shots with another victory.
MacDonald has certainly proven himself in the UFC welterweight division with four-straight wins, including knockout victories over both Mike Pyle and Che Mills before his unanimous decision win over Penn. However, while Penn is still a big name, his best days are certainly behind him at this point, so MacDonald will still need to be tested against the highest level of competition to prove that he belongs. After calling out the former champion in Carlos Condit a bout between the two seems necessary, and it could be the perfect bout when the UFC returns to Montreal in March following the title fight between GSP and Condit at the last Bell Centre event. The Canadian MacDonald is primed to take the next step, and a fight with Condit will be the perfect test.
Meanwhile for Gustafsson, his win over Shogun was exactly what he needed to prove he belongs at the highest level, as it was the most difficult win of his career. Since he is still not ready for UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, perhaps another former champion in Lyota Machida would be the most appropriate next step. Rashad Evans would be another excellent test, but Evans may be a more difficult test and since he is scheduled to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, a bout against Machida will give Gustafsson a better chance to progress before a clash with Evans.
As for the champion Henderson, there really isn’t much to prove after registering his sixth-straight win, and third-straight title defense in the UFC. Henderson looked absolutely dominant in his win over Diaz, and while a rematch with Anthony Pettis could be in the works. Pettis beat Henderson in the final WEC match and with the chance at a rematch to determine who is the best, it looks like that is the best move for Henderson. With Gilbert Melendez possibly on his way over from Strikeforce there is a potential undisputed championship fight on the horizon, but first Henderson will need to prove he is the best against Pettis. For all of the latest UFC news and odds, be sure to check out the best sports betting sites.