With Anderson Silva defending his Middleweight Championship against Chris Weidman tonight, it’s easy to overlook the other notable fights at UFC 162. As usual, there are some potential UFC Ladder spots at stake tonight. Here are the fighters with the best chance of moving up in their divisions.
Middleweight: Mark Munoz/Tim Boetsch, Tim Kennedy/Roger Gracie
Mark Munoz returns to the Octagon nearly a year after his devastating knockout loss to Chris Weidman (which ultimately granted Weidman tonight’s title shot). “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” has been battling injuries, depression, and a weight gain which have all kept him sidelined until tonight. Yet in spite of all of that, he could still find himself back on the ladder with a win. The middleweight division is still quite vacant as far as top contenders are concerned, so a win over a top-10 middleweight in Tim Boetsch could start Munoz back on the title track. Boetsch’s prospects of ladder movement are a little less bleak, but a finish would certainly send the right message.
As two of Strikeforce’s best middleweights, it made perfect sense to pair Tim Kennedy and Roger Gracie together for their UFC debuts. Both are coming in with a win after scoring submission victories on the final Strikeforce pay-per-view card. They’re are also very marketable fighters—Kennedy an Army veteran and Gracie, well, a Gracie—making their chances for ladder ascension even better.
Lightweight: Edson Barboza
With a single spinning back kick last January, Edson Barboza put himself on the fast track to UFC stardom. But surprising loss to Jamie Varner months later knocked him back into obscurity in the lightweight division. 155 is still one of the more crowded weight classes in the UFC today, but if the Brazilian can finish Rafaello Oliveira the way he finished Lucas Martins in January, he could find himself on the rise this coming fall.
Featherweight: Cub Swanson/Dennis Siver
The fact that Swanson and Siver kick off the pay-per-view speak volumes to how good tonight’s card looks on paper. With both fighters currently in the discussion for a future featherweight title shot, the winner could find themselves among the ranks of Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, and other fighters knocking on the door of champion Jose Aldo. Right now I’d put Siver just ahead of Swanson on the ladder, mostly due to Swanson’s brief run-in with Aldo back in the WEC. But a win for the 29-year old would push his winning streak to five matches, which may be too much for the UFC brass to ignore.