UFC 144: What's Next for the Main-Card Losers
The UFC's return to Japan was a success all around, but it wasn't all positive for the night's losers. On a night that saw many big upsets in various divisions, the UFC finds itself looking at new contenders, while others move down the rankings.
In the main event, UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar put his title on the line against former WEC champ Benson Henderson. It was Edgar's fourth title defense and first fight against an opponent not named BJ Penn or Gray Maynard in over two years.
In the co-main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson took on Ryan Bader in what was a homecoming event of sorts for the former Pride superstar.
Other main-card bouts included Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Hunt, Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields, Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch and Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis.
This is what's next for the losers.
Joe Lauzon Loses to Anthony Pettis
Joe Lauzon hoped to upset another big name in the UFC when he took on former WEC champ Anthony "Showtime" Pettis in the opening pay-per-view bout.
It didn't take long for Pettis to get rid of Lauzon, and after a brutal head kick and follow-up ground and pound, Pettis walked away the victor.
Lauzon will have to get back on track in the UFC's most stacked division, and a fight versus the loser of the upcoming Yves Edwards and Donald Cerrone bout should be next.
Bart Palaszewski Loses to Hatsu Hioki
Top featherweight contender Hatsu Hioki took home a unanimous decision after defeating Bart Palaszewski over three rounds.
With what was likely a chance to fight for the title, Palaszewski will have to reevaluate his fight game. At 28, he still has time to improve on an already extensive career in MMA.
A fight with the loser of the upcoming Mark Hominick and Eddie Yagin bout would make for a good matchup in the 145-pound division.
Yushin Okami Loses to Tim Boetsch
Top-10 middleweight Yushin Okami was one round away from defeating Tim Boetsch when the "Barbarian" opened up and knocked out the Japanese fighter in the third round.
Now, Okami sits in the division with two losses in a row. The other came against UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
A fight with Demian Maia would put both fighters in a position where the winner can get their career back on track after losing in recent bouts.
Yoshihiro Akiyama Loses to Jake Shields
Yoshihiro Akiyama tried to get a much-needed victory when he took on Jake Shields in his first welterweight bout of his career.
After three grueling rounds, Akiyama fell to the former Strikeforce champion by unanimous decision, but many thought he deserved the victory.
With four consecutive losses, the UFC will really have to give Akiyama a step down in competition. This could come against the loser of the upcoming Matt Brown and Stephen Thompson bout.
Cheick Kongo Loses to Mark Hunt
As former K-1 kickboxers, Cheick Kongo and Mark Hunt were anticipated to stand and trade. And they did just that.
It only favored one man, as Hunt emerged the winner after stopping Kongo with strikes in the first round. A series of right hands put Kongo down and out before referee Herb Dean stepped in.
Kongo might have had an up-and-down career in the UFC, but he still puts on good fights when matched up correctly. A fight with Dave Herman could be very exciting.
Quinton Jackson Loses to Ryan Bader
Quinton Jackson went into his fight with Ryan Bader already anticipating a loss after suffering a knee injury during training, and it showed starting at the weigh-ins, where he missed weight by five pounds.
The fight didn't make things better for the former champion, and after three rounds, Jackson lost a unanimous decision. It is now the first time in his career he has lost consecutive fights.
For his next fight, a rematch with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua could be the one that he leaves the sport on while putting on a memorable performance.
Frankie Edgar Loses to Benson Henderson
After losing to Benson Henderson in the main event at UFC 144, Frankie Edgar loses his strap and now has to contemplate moving down in weight.
Many would argue size doesn't matter, but when coupled with skill, it does. Henderson was able to overpower Edgar for the better part of the fight, especially in the grappling exchanges. Henderson was also able to use his kicks to keep Edgar thinking on the feet.
Now, Edgar should think about moving to 145. The road to the featherweight title isn't long, and he could be thrust into an immediate title shot versus Jose Aldo, should be decide to make the move down.
If he decides to stick around in the lightweight division, a rematch with Henderson would also be welcomed, as he was forced to do two rematches with Gray Maynard and BJ Penn.