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Now that last night’s festivites are now in the books, it’s time for the “what’s next?” speculation to begin.

Dan Henderson: With the limited depth of the Strikeforce light heavyweight division, ol’ Hendo needs to fight Feijao for the strap. A win for the Brazilian would finally vault him into the top 10, as well as putting him on the radar of more casual fans. A win for Hendo would be yet another accomplishment on an already stellar career and would arguably make him Strikeforce’s top star.

Babalu Sobral: Despite a resume filled with impressive victories over names like Shogun Rua, Chael Sonnen, and Robbie Lawler, Babalu can’t seem to win when it really matters. He was stopped by Chuck Liddell when he fought for the UFC light heavyweight title, knocked out by Gegard Mousasi in a Strikeforce title fight, and now finished by Dan Henderson in the main event of one of the top non-UFC fight cards of the year. The BJJ black belt now needs to take a step down in competition if he wants to continue fighting at a high level. A quick rebound fight against Ovince St. Preux, who picked up a win over Benji Radach last night, makes sense, or even Mike Kyle.

Stephan Bonnar: At 33 years old and with six years of UFC fight experience, Bonnar should take a step up in competition after his victory over Igor Pokrajac. I would match him with someone like Matt Hamill or the winner of Brandon Vera vs. Thiago Silva.

More post-fight speculation after the jump.

Igor Pokrajac: With his impressive striking skills, a fight with the Jones-Bader winner works. Just kidding. It’s time for this guy to re-visit the regional circuit.

Robbie Lawler: Even keeping in mind Matt Lindland’s steady decline over the past few years, there’s no denying that Lawler’s knockout finish was spectacular. The 28-year-old might not ever wind up on anyone pound-for-pound list, but he’s a capable and exciting fighter that Strikeforce is lucky to have under contract. If Cung Le is available, a Lawler-Le fight could easily headline a Showtime event and determine a future middleweight title challenger. If not, a top contender match-up with someone like Mayhem Miller or Luke Rockhold makes sense. At the same time, I think it would be unwise for Scott Coker to put Lawler in an immediate title match, as placing a fighter on a one-fight win streak in a title fight would undermine the legitimacy of the championship.

Matt Lindland: It’s been an impressive career, but it’s time Lindland calls it quits. I can’t think of anyone in the top 20 that I would consider to be an underdog in a fight with Lindland. He should hang up the gloves before he tarnishes his reputation any further.

Demian Maia: There’s a variety of ways that Joe Silva can deal with Maia going forward. I still like the idea of the previously booked Belcher-Maia fight. A re-match with Nate Marquardt also makes sense at this point.

Kendall Grove: Some people are calling for Grove’s release after his latest loss. I don’t think that is necessary at all. Grove is still 2-2 in his last four, has name value amongst casual fans, and just went the distance in a fight where many observers thought he would be submitted. Someone like Tom Lawlor or Aaron Simpson would be a logical next step for the 6’6″ middleweight.

Paul Daley: Daley called out KJ Noons after his fight, and I don’t see any reason why that fight shouldn’t be booked, especially if Strikeforce decides to finally match Nick Diaz up with Mayhem Miller. If Coker instead decides to have Diaz defend his 170-pound strap next, then I don’t think giving Daley an immediate title shot would be unreasonable.

Scott Smith: Some people out there are also calling for Smith’s retirement. Again, this is unwarranted. Sure, he’s one dimensional and isn’t going to be developing much any further, but he’s still exciting as hell and has recent relevant wins over Cung Le and Benji Radach. Throw Smith in the cage with Melvin Manhoef and wait for one of them to hit the mat.

Jonathan Brookins: This kid is going to get the standard post-TUF opponent for the tournament winner: a middle-of-the-pack UFC vet with little chance for victory. Doesn’t matter much who it is as long as they fit that description.

Rick Story: With a five-fight win streak in the UFC, it’s time for Story to start taking on the guys at the top of the welterweight heap so we can find out how good he really is. That means someone like Thiago Alves, should he get past John Howard, or a returning Dan Hardy.

Johnny Hendricks: His debut stoppage win against Amir Sadollah was always a bit questionable to me. I think now is the time to pair those two up again to see what happens if Hendricks doesn’t get awarded a slightly early stoppage victory from the ref.

Bigfoot Silva: The man has fought some tough competition on his way to become one of the top heavyweights in the world. With an Overeem-Werdum title fight on the horizon, Bigfoot should step into the cage against somebody like Fedor or Barnett to determine a future title challenger.

  • SST says:

    Daley vs Cyborg > Noons > Diaz

  • Márcio says:

    Nice write-up as usual, I agree with almost everything. I just think it’s a bit early to give Dailey the title shot, a fight with Cyborg, Žaromskis or even Woodley (very solid wrasslin) would make more sense right now.

  • DJ ThunderElbows says:

    Mahoef? Why do you hate the Smith family so much???

  • Symbul says:

    I hope Noons (if not Coker) realise that he’s wasted at 170lbs. He’s a Lightweight, straight up, and should stick to that weight class rather than consign himself to Daley’s highlight reel.

    I think we’ll see Hendo get his second title shot in three fights. It just makes sense. They need another guy in the (infamous) mix at 205 and I don’t think they have anyone who’s half the candidate Hendo is.

    Brookins is a featherweight and I think that’s where we’ll see him, hopefully in his first proper fight, unless they have some real scrub they need him to eject from the UFC at 155.

    Rick Story deserves a name opponent on a PPV main card. He had an excellent performance against Hendricks who himself won’t lose too much steam with the loss. Either he gets a to-be reject in his next fight to bounce back, or takes a lateral step and fights another mid-tier guy. He could still have a good 2011.

    Maia has the misfortune of being proven to have nothing on Anderson Silva, but still being good enough to beat everyone else at 185. I like a fight with Palhares, even though Palhares is coming off a loss. Rematching Marquardt is a good fight to possibly remove that stain on his record too – or as good a fight as a Marquardt fight gets.

    Bigfoot is a legit guy but while Strikeforce isn’t lacking for big name opponents for him, they probably don’t want to fight him. At least not anytime soon. I’d *like* to see him fight Fedor but I just have no idea how things will shake out with their HW fights next year.

  • Rodriguez says:

    Bonnar was supposed to fight Hammil in April 2008, so looks like he stepped down, even.

  • RaginAsian says:

    Maia-Sonnen rematch anyone?

  • Reverend Clint says:

    babalu vs kyle to the death

  • Del Fuego says:

    I love how weight classes are only marginally relevant for Strikeforce. I would really like to see Story matched up with Hardy, but I doubt it will happen. Story’s wrestling is too good.

    I also love the idea of a Daley/Diaz match up.

  • YEAH RIGHT says:

    Nice write up, less funny than usual, but still good.

    Write more often.

    You too, Rod.

  • glassjawsh says:

    i forgot shawn posted here

  • P W says:

    Kick Bonnar, Grove and Igor. We’ve seen enough.

  • frickshun says:

    1st–>I watched Strikeforce last night……YOU GUYS ARE FUCKING PATHETIC. Why do mismatch KO’s get everybody’s dick hard?? Lindland was moving like he was under water. Smith has only beaten guys that are not UFC level. Babalu is another guy that gave up on getting better or staying in elite level shape. Why again is it so entertaining or meaningful to see them KTFO??

    2nd–>Shawn, nice to see you again. Too bad you didn’t have your heart in this write-up. I tend to read your match-making posts & say “Damn, this boy must be Joe Silva’s young Jedi”. But you’re off your game. I did laugh about the Igor line though…..

  • Blackula Jonez says:

    Instead of being disgusted at fight fans gushing over finishes, why don’t you tell us what you liked about the fights last night Frick?

    I thought Story vs. Hendricks was the very definition of an evenly matched fight and it is getting a fraction of the press it deserves. I also believe it should be seen as the type of fight one should expect from the UFC.

    Talented elites battling for contender ship and titles.

    I honestly believe going forward there may be less and less finishes on UFC main cards, especially with the current purging process they are going through for the WEC guys coming in.

  • glassjawsh says:

    ^ not that any of you will miss me, but that will turn me off the UFC

    if there is a large proliferation of falcao type “protecting the lead” fights, ill probably end up turning into a casual fan that only buys ppvs for the biggest fights

  • CAP says:

    Kendell Grove should be fired for that haircut.

  • shawn says:

    raginasian: i thought about maia-sonnen 2 as my pick for maia’s next fight. after thinking about the ufc’s incentive to get sonnen back in the cage with silva sooner rather than later, i decided against it bc the fight is very likely to end the same way the first one did.

    frick: what exactly do you disagree with? even after re-reading my post in light of what some other writers on other sites have said and what some of these guys in the comments have suggested, i still stand by my picks.

  • frickshun says:

    Blackula–>I loved the Story fight. I enjoyed the hell out of the Nam fight. But only b/c Nam did such a great job against a big-swinging, unorthodox fighter. I enjoyed Captain Morgan’s sub even though he fought a bum.

    I’m not saying you guys should have seen the hidden beauty of the TUF Finale. I’m just shocked by all the gushing over the Strikeforce card. Yes, KO’s are fun. But not when it feels more like a sacrifice to the gods than a duel to the death.

  • shawn says:

    frick: The only reason some people are labeling all of those fights “mismatches” is through the benefit of hindsight. The only one I would consider a “mismatch” was Lawler-Lindland.

    Babalu was coming off a grinding win against a very tough and very game Lawler, who is actually a fairly similar fighter to Hendo, and was also 6-1 in his previous seven fights. I don’t see how matching him up with Hendo, who himself was coming off a loss that made him look as though age might be finally catching up with him, was any sort of mismatch.

    As for Smith, the guy is not known as a technical striker in any way, but he’s shown a propensity to take a beating from people who have outstruck him only to come back and win (see Cung Le and Benji Radach). Daley was correctly labeled as the favorite, but that doesn’t mean the match-up was so one sided in Daley’s favor to be labeled a “mis-match.”

  • DJ ThunderElbows says:

    Daley was correctly labeled as the favorite, but that doesn’t mean the match-up was so one sided in Daley’s favor to be labeled a “mis-match.”

    A technical power-striker versus sloppy brawler with zero defensive skills and a history of brain trauma due to aforementioned skills.

  • agentsmith says:

    “At the same time, I think it would be unwise for Scott Coker to put Lawler in an immediate title match, as placing a fighter on a one-fight win streak in a title fight would undermine the legitimacy of the championship.”

    You’re aware that Hendo lost his last fight too, right?

    I agree that in any promotion with actual depth Lawler wouldn’t deserve a title shot, but it’s not like Strikeforce has a whole lot of options. Rockhold has yet to fight on a Showtime card, so Mayhem is pretty much their only other guy at MW. If they can’t set up Mayhem and Diaz, then they either give the next title shot to Lawler, or make Jacare wait on the shelf while they do Lawler vs Mayhem.

  • shawn says:

    Good point, and nice job finding the gaping hole in my argument.

    What I would say is that Henderson is and has been ranked much higher than Lawler over the years and has reached a status in the sport similar to to that of Randy Couture, where he can be placed in title fights randomly and no one will question it. The same can’t be said for Lawler, in my opinion.

    As for what to do with the division, I’ll offer this: First off, take Mayhem and book him against Diaz. Check out the post I just put up. Have Lawler fight Cung Le for a title shot, if Le is available. And, most importantly, I would have Jacare fight Sengoku champ Jorge Santiago in his first title defense. I would also anchor that show with a more fan-friendly bout, such as Le-Lawler or Diaz-Miller.

    If booking Santiago is not possible for contractual reasons, then sure, go with Lawler. I really like the fight but I would just prefer for Lawler to get another high-profile win first. That would make a future title bout even more legitimate, in my eyes. That’s all I’m saying.

  • DJ ThunderElbows says:

    Neat idea, but no fucking way is Cung fighting someone like Lawler. Kids’ a bitch. Yeah I said it.

  • frickshun says:

    Shawny–>I don’t want to be reduntant, but I made my case in the “Subo Suxxorz” thread. They’re mismatches in my mind b/c Daley, Hendo & to a lesser extent, Lolzler, are UFC caliber. They are fighting “Strikeforce” caliber guys. Hence: MISMATCHES. Lindland should retire. Smith should just keep rematching Le. Babalu should reassess his desire to fight & maybe change coaches/camps/nutritionists/tattoo artists/hairstyle/professions?

    To be fair, I didn’t watch the Bigfoot fight.

  • shawn says:

    frick: reasonable logic, but i would point out that, under your definition of the term, there are fights that happen in the ufc all the time that are “mismatches.” for every hendricks-story evenly matched bout, there’s a maia-grove, bonnar-pokrajac, couture-toney, couture-coleman, or hunt-mccorkle.

    i’ll be the first person to point out the fact that strikeforce books their fights with one guy to win in mind much, much more often than the ufc. (in fact, it looks like they do it with almost every main card bout they put on.) but i think the disagreement stems from the definition of what “mis-match” means. to me, it’s only fights like couture-toney and cro cop-mizuno that fall under that umbrella. for me, it has to be a truly egregious, one-sided fight booking to be labeled a mismatch, not just a fight where one guy is a bit more heavily favored than in your average fight.

  • frickshun says:

    Barring Coleman, Toney & Hunt, the others do have a legitimate chance to win.

  • shawn says:

    Well, yeah, everybody has a chance to win. This is MMA. But maybe I’m not being clear. My definition of a mismatch isn’t just a fight where one guy is a heavy favorite (see: Penn v. Edgar 1, Jones v. Matyushenko, etc.), but a fight where one guy is such an overwhelming favorite that the outcome is practically predetermined and the health of the underdog is a legitimate concern (see: Wand v. Otsuka, Overeem v. James Thompson, etc.).

  • frickshun says:

    (….Shawn vs free blowjob from HIV-infected tranny hooker)