UFC 152 Results: What's Next for the Losers?
UFC 152 was an absolutely stacked card made up entirely of compelling fights that either had a belt on the line or serious title implications.
Naturally, not everyone had their wishes for victory come true and as such, many of the losers of UFC 152 find themselves asking where to go from here. How about we discuss that for them?
Welcome to Bleacher Report's official What's Next for the Losers of UFC 152 article!
What, oh what, is in store for the 12 fighters that came up short tonight? Let's find out.
Oh...so...you're 1-3 in your last four in one of the UFC's deepest, most talent-rich divisions?
That's not a good thing.
Granted, the loss is a bit (but only a bit) controversial, but Brenneman has been a generic welterweight for a long time now, and your average fan is going to be hard-pressed to remember any given one of his wins. Ultimately, he is a fighter that rarely finishes fights and now has enough losses clumped together to warrant a pink slip from Dana White.
At 31 years old, Brenneman is likely at the peak of his fighting skills and as such, there is very little reason for him to be kept. While he may or may not be cut outright, he is, at best, food for an up-and-comer like Stephen Thompson or a rebound fight for a middling welterweight like Rick Story.
Even though the dude has one of the most-fun-to-say names in the UFC and even though he is in the incredibly talent-shallow bantamweight division, Walel Watson has three losses in a row right now and has a 1-3 UFC record. Therefore, he has the dubious distinction of being the fighter most likely to be cut after UFC 152.
There are simply no bantamweights that would benefit from fighting him and he is far enough along in his MMA career that it is unlikely he has a great deal of untapped potential.
Watson got his career started in Southern California and Mexico. Look for him to return there and rack up wins against subpar opponents. If the UFC inexplicably decides to keep him, watch for him to fight a random promotional newcomer.
The Norwegian, who was a staple fighter in England's MMA scene for a long time, is now sitting on a 1-1 UFC record after losing to Seth Baczynski by knockout. A submission whiz with a polished striking repertoire, Thoreson is still desperately trying to leave stepping-stone territory to become part of the welterweight mix.
While a loss to Baczynski does not help his cause, the UFC loves to have those Donald Cerrone-types around on their preliminary cards. He is capable of beating many of the younger welterweights in the UFC and can threaten opponents anywhere in the cage.
A rebound fight against someone like Che Mills (who was most recently fed to Rory MacDonald) would be a good next step for either fighter. Otherwise, he would be a great test for the resurgent Matt Brown, who has been feasting upon strikers with his refined wrestling (and also lost to Baczynski).
Jimmy Hettes officially enters the middle of the featherweight pack with his loss to Marcus Brimage. This group is absolutely loaded with talent, young and old, that have unfortunately ended up in a division that simply has no room near the top for anyone new.
My job is quite easy, because there are literally a dozen or opponents for Hettes that make sense.
He should be looked at as a strong featherweight prospect and would therefore be great competition for other youthful fighters like the crew from The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller or The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. He could also try and build his resume with a fight against somebody like Diego Nunes or Manny Gamburyan.
Either way, he has options. Not many losing fighters on this card can say that.
Lance Benoist is another fighter who has likely just fought his last bout in the UFC. Now 1-2 with all his fights ending in a decision in the ultra-competitive welterweight division, Benoist has got to be biting his nails right now.
Yes, there have been fighters that have been kept after worse openings to their UFC careers. Either way, Benoist is not living up to almost any possible standard he had thrust upon him when he joined the UFC.
As one of the UFC's many indiscriminate welterweight preliminary card-caliber fighters, he might be kept. He might not be. He has more than a few potential opponents in fighters like Stephen Thompson or Charlie Brenneman.
Either way, if he is kept by the UFC (and that is quite an “if”), he will be fighting for his job on some other preliminary-card fight that will probably end up on Facebook.
Evan Dunham, once again, finds himself hitting a speed bump.
Though he found success early in his UFC career in getting out to a hot 4-0 start, he just had another winning streak ended by TJ Grant Saturday night and is 2-3 over the last two years in the UFC.
It's unfortunate for Dunham. Given how incredibly competitive the lightweight division is, any misstep and a fighter quickly finds himself relegated to fighting on preliminary cards and/or being fed to the likes of Melvin Guillard.
That, once again, is where Dunham finds himself.
There are numerous opponents that he could find himself against, including TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson or veteran Yves Edwards. Then again, he could also find himself becoming another notch in the belt of a fighter like Jim Miller or Paul Sass.
Either way, this is not an enviable situation for Dunham.
Pokrajac's spot in the UFC light heavyweight division is secure in spite of his loss here to Vinny Magalhaes.
Nobody really ever had Pokrajac in their top 10. Nobody ever believed he was going to make a title run.
He remains a solid all-around fighter that can be used as a tough test for any hotshot prospect or as a decent opponent for mid-tier light heavyweights for filling out a preliminary card. Once again, losing to Vinny Magalhaes did not change that.
Look for him to end up against a promotional newcomer, fellow veterans currently coming off losses like Brandon Vera or Vladimir Matyushenko, or even getting a tune-up fight of his own against fellow UFC 152 loser Roger Hollett.
Frankie Edgar dropping from lightweight to featherweight did more to change that division than any single fighter's move. Charles Oliveira snuck himself into the title picture earlier this year by demolishing Jonathan Brookins.
With Oliveira losing convincingly via first-round KO, he finds himself very far removed from the title picture, which currently has Edgar, Erik Koch, Chan Sung Jung and, now, Cub Swanson all reasonably in line to fight Jose Aldo for the belt.
Because of that, Oliveira finds himself knocked far back in the rankings and unlikely to see a chance for the belt for at least a year.
Luckily, there is no shortage of middling featherweights for him to get matched against. Marcus Brimage, who beat Jimmy Hettes earlier in the night, is a solid competitor and lines up schedule-wise (obviously). Dennis Bermudez, Nik Lentz, Hatsu Hioki and Dustin Poirier are also potential opponents for him.
Honestly, there is no reason that fight went past the first round. Hollett looked like he was lost in a foreign country against Hamill and simply had no idea how to handle Hamill's takedowns and seemed downright petrified standing.
So what's next for Hollett? Well, probably a return to the local circuit.
Seriously, even though Hamill is a strong wrestler, he is almost certainly outside the top 20 light heavyweights right now. He is rightly a fan favorite and is an incredibly inspirational story...but he is not as fearsome Hollett made him look.
Watch for Hollett to end up back in central Canada or getting fed to somebody like Vladimir Matyushenko or Igor Pokrajac, whom the UFC would like to get back on the winning track.
Brian Stann deserves every bit of the adoration he has been showered with since knocking out Chris Leben back at UFC 125. The bottom line, however, is that Stann floundered really badly against Michael Bisping.
Bisping is a fighter who, in all likelihood, could have matched him punch-for-punch with his solid kickboxing. However, he opted to take Stann down over the course of the fight and exposed the fact that Brian Stann is just plain too weak a grappler to be considered a top-10 middleweight.
He still owns some of the UFC's heaviest hands. He is still one of the UFC's most popular fighters. That said, he is now on the outside looking in on the middleweight title picture and will likely remain there for the indefinite future.
It's unfortunate, because I love Brian Stann. But he just seems lost when he is not in a brawl.
He is still going to be a main-card fighter and is still a name in the middleweight division. There are many fighters that would jump at the chance to fight him and there are plenty of compelling matchups that can be made, including bouts against Wanderlei Silva, Constantinos Philippou or the winner of Hector Lombard vs. Rousimar Palhares.
Once again, though, Stann seems now to be a one-hit wonder.
Demetrious Johnson completely dominated Joseph Benavidez Saturday night to become the UFC's first flyweight champion and made the seemingly speedy Benavidez look like he was moving in slow motion. It was, honestly, silly this fight was a split decision.
Either way, Joseph Benavidez now needs an opponent. While the interchangeable preliminary-card fighters discussed earlier can be matched at will, the UFC needs to take a highly measured approach to its still-shallow flyweight division.
The UFC could put Ian McCall and Benavidez against each other. They are, after all, generally regarded as two of the top three flyweights in the world. However, that would simply set up for another title bout when both of them are coming off losses to Demetrious Johnson, whom, at this point, seems unstoppable.
The UFC also cannot match him against particularly strong prospects like Jussier da Silva or John Dodson, because Benavidez would likely deliver a career-altering beatdown to either of them.
The best move for the UFC would be to set up a fight against an already-tried-and-true division newcomer like Chris Cariaso. That, easily, is the smartest fight the UFC could put together for Benavidez.
For a supposedly smart, veteran fighter, Vitor Belfort seems to forget what he's good at very quickly.
He has won most of his fights with his patented run-forward-really-fast-and-throw-lots-of-punches technique. He beat Rich Franklin that way. He beat Yoshihiro Akiyama that way.
Then he ends up against guys like Anderson Silva or Jon Jones and looks downright tentative and methodical (in a bad way). It is disappointing and silly, considering he can beat almost any given opponent with his absurdly quick hands.
What's next for him, though? Well, that depends on whether he wants to move back to middleweight or remain at light heavyweight.
If he opts to return to middleweight, there are several viable opponents for him including Wanderlei Silva, Brian Stann, Yushin Okami (assuming he wins his upcoming fight against Alan Belcher) or the winner of Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le.
If he decides to stay at light heavyweight, the clear-cut opponent he should face is Chael Sonnen. The two have jawed for a long while and, if Sonnen gets past Forrest Griffin, this would make for a strong main or co-main event.