UFC 150 is in the books. Despite a few dull moments the card delivered excitement when it mattered with both main event bouts getting the audience on its feet.
We saw a number of prelim fighters attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the pack with some strong showings and a pair of former title challengers picking up much needed victories. In the co-main event Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone survived a huge punch from Melvin Guillard to drop his former teammate with a head kick and right hand.
The main event saw Benson Henderson retain his title in a hotly contested decision against former champ Frankie Edgar. The fight was close and both sides of the coin have valuable arguments as to why their guy won.
A number of fighters appear to be at a crossroads in their UFC careers while a few have clear paths set in front of them. Peek into the future in this attempt to show you what's next for both the winners and losers from UFC 150.
This fight was brief and completely one sided as Nik Lentz controlled the action for every second of the bout. Lentz opened up with some striking and secured a few takedowns. The end came after Lentz secured the back of Eiji Mitsuoka and landed a flurry of punches causing the referee to step in.
Next for Mitsuoka: It's the second loss in a row and second TKO loss for Mitsuoka. The Japanese fighter was clearly out-classed by Lentz in the fight and could find himself on the chopping block.
Next for Lentz: He looked great at the new weight class but that could also be the result of Mitsuoka not being a UFC-level fighter. I believe a bout against Hacran Dias makes sense as both men are coming off impressive debuts of their own.
This fight saw Chico Camus get the better of Dustin Pague standing up and on the ground. Camus found himself in trouble early as Pague nearly had a triangle choke in the opening minutes but he survived the scare.
Camus was able to use his top game to stifle the Pague's submission attempts and controlled much of the action en route to the decision victory.
Next for Pague: Perhaps a rematch with fellow UFC 150 competitor Ken Stone? Their fight went down as a split decision and I'm sure Pague would love to get some revenge while avoiding dropping his third-straight fight.
Next for Camus: Bryan Caraway made a successful bantamweight debut at UFC 149. That sounds like a good pairing of up and coming fighters in the UFC.
Wow...is the only word to describe Erik Perez's first-round victory over Ken Stone. Perez caught Stone with a huge punch that made Stone faceplant into the canvas. There's not much to dissect after a 17-second victory except that either Perez has some heavy hands or Stone's chin is cracked beyond repair.
Next for Stone: He's gone 2-2 since joining the UFC's ranks with both losses coming via knockout. If a bout against Dustin Pague doesn't happen, a fight with John Albert could help get the winner back on track in the division.
Next for Perez: The winner of Jeff Hougland vs. Takeya Mizugaki would work well given that the two fights take place in relatively the same time frame.
Jared Hamman began the night looking like he was in the driver's seat to a victory over Michael Kuiper. He tagged Kuiper early but the fight changed as Hamman wobbled after a right hand from Kupier.
In between rounds Hamman told his corner he had a torn thigh muscle but his corner trotted their fighter out to the Octagon. The result was predictable as Kuiper blasted Hamman with a number of strikes before Hamman finally collapsed to the mat.
Next for Hamman: Hopefully Hamman finds some new people to work his corner. I understand you want to let your fighter be the one to take himself out of a fight, but everyone knows that guys in the UFC aren't going to quit on the stool in between rounds. If Hamman's leg is as messed up as he believed I hope he has a speedy recovery.
Next for Kuiper: The Dutch fighter didn't look good in the early going but was able to secure a takedown and benefited from the Hamman's injury. Although he's coming off a loss, a fight with Patrick Cote would be a good barometer of Kuiper's skills. It also provides a well-known name for the Dutch fighter with which to build his resume.
Dennis Bermudez survived an early scare as Tommy Hayden was able to secure Bermudez's back and nearly got an armbar submission to take the victory.
After avoiding Hayden's submission attempt, Hayden shot in for another takedown only to have Bermudez slap on a tight standing guillotine that forced Hayden to submit in the first round.
Next for Hayden: Hayden could unfortunately be looking for a new home after this performance. He's lost both of his bouts in the UFC, both by submission.
Next for Bermudez: A bout with Manny Gamburyan would be a tough matchup for Bermudez but could be entertaining. Diego Brandao is coming off a surprising loss at UFC 146 but it'd be interesting to see if Brandao and Bermudez could recreate the magic of their meeting in The Ultimate Fighter finale contest.
Justin Lawrence and Max Holloway engaged in a fairly entertaining fight to begin the night. It wasn't a technical battle by any means but it was a nice way to start off the card. Lawrence was clearly affected by Holloway's body shots, which would ultimately be his undoing.
Next for Lawrence: A fight on the prelims of a UFC PPV show. It was Lawrence's featherweight debut and he still has the head kick KO to help his draw. Perhaps Daniel Pineda will be on tap?
Next for Holloway: He is a young prospect who by everyone's account has a ton of potential. Now he just needs to starting putting all the pieces together. Perhaps a bout against Darren Elkins will be a good gauge of just how much Holloway has grown as a fighter?
Yushin Okami struggled early on as UFC newcomer Buddy Roberts was able to win the striking exchanges. However, the fight dynamic changed when Okami decided to use his grappling advantage.
Okami nearly secured a finish in the first round but eventually got the TKO stoppage in the second round. The former title challenger overwhelmed Roberts on the mat and ended the fight with a series of punches to the head as Roberts did nothing more than put his arms up to block the strikes.
Next for Roberts: It was his only his second fight in the UFC and a tough draw at that. A bout against Riki Fukuda could be in the cards as both men are coming off convincing losses.
Next for Okami: For the first few minutes Okami looked nothing like the former title challenger he was. Once he decided to implement his grappling game we finally got to see the dominant fighter Okami can be.
Chris Leben is a big name who will be returning to the Octagon soon and it seems Chris Weidman is stuck on the sidelines at the moment. Both would be good fights for the Japanese star.
I've officially put Jake Shields into the “Boston Red Sox pre-2004” category of fighters. You know they are the guys who always seem to let you down but then do just enough to give you a ray of hope.
I thought the move to 185 pounds would rejuvenate Shields' career and performance in the cage but it appears neither of them can be fixed.
Ed Herman came in with a perplexing strategy as he attempted to grapple with Shields and it cost him the fight. Herman had a visible size advantage but failed to use it properly which lead to a lackluster fight ending in a chorus of boos from the Denver fans.
Next for Herman: He's still a talented fighter and handful for any competitor. Court McGee is coming off a close decision loss to Nick Ring and a bout with Herman would be entertaining to watch.
Next for Shields: I'm honestly not sure. It's obvious he's a very talented fighter but he lacks the excitement necessary to be put atop a PPV show. A bout against top contender Tim Boetsch would show us where Shields stacks up in the division.
This fight rightfully earned Fight of the Night honors as it was nonstop excitement for all 76 seconds. Melvin Guillard dropped Donald Cerrone with a left hook early in the round and swarmed “Cowboy.” Cerrone was able to avoid most of the blows and recovered quickly to land a grazing head kick that had Guillard doing a Serena Williams-like dance on the feet.
Cerrone followed it up with a huge right hand that flattened Guillard en route to his second straight victory in the Octagon.
Next for Guillard: It was his third loss in his past four fights so it's very unclear where Guillard goes from here. He's still an incredible athlete and has one-punch KO power in his hands but can't seem to move past the mid-tier level of fighters.
Next for Cerrone: Other than Benson Henderson, Cerrone is the only guy on the card who has a clear path in front of him after picking up the victory. “Cowboy” has been very vocal about his disdain for Anthony Pettis. The UFC will surely match the two together in what will likely become a title eliminator bout later this year.
The fight caused a lot of uproar from the MMA community because of its razor-close split decision victory for Benson Henderson. Frankie Edgar didn't need a miracle comeback this time around but didn't do enough to win back the UFC Lightweight title.
The contest was almost entirely contested standing up. Henderson attempted to use his size and reach while Edgar used his trademark footwork to strike in and out. It was a close fight but both men will go their separate ways as Dana White has ruled out a rematch between the two fights.
Next for Edgar: Gray Maynard has been itching for another crack at Edgar but the UFC will likely be very wary of matching those two up again. Edgar could find himself in a clash against Clay Guida or maybe a trip to Strikeforce to face Gilbert Melndez if nothing comes up. Of course there's always that 145-pound division for Edgar to dive into as well.
Next for Henderson: His next title defense will come against Nate Diaz. The fight with Diaz will be an entirely different mountain for Henderson to climb compared to his matches with Edgar.
Diaz isn't going to run circles around Henderson and will bring the fight to the champion for every second of the bout.