UFC 153: What's Next for the Losers?
It's time to look to the future for the men who lost at UFC 153.
A mixed martial artist's dream of a historic upset was crushed, a red-hot prospect's hype train ground to a halt and several more men were defeated in hard-fought wars that slipped away from them at the last minute.
So, what's next for everyone who lost?
And what about Dave Herman, Rick Story and every other fighter who left Brazil with their hopes dashed and their tails between their legs?
Let's take a look at UFC 153's defeated fighters and discuss where they'll end up next.
Reza Madadi put in a gritty, exciting performance against Cristiano Marcello that should secure him another fight in the promotion.
Any time you're trying to make an impression in your first fight, losing a war like that can be a consoling alternative to winning.
(Contrarily, some can definitely argue that he should've won the split decision.)
Madadi should have a future in the UFC, and he will likely find his next job with Zuffa on another international card's preliminary ticket once he's off his mandatory medical suspension.
Not only did Luiz Cané lose a winnable fight against Chris Camozzi, it was his second crushing defeat in his home country at the hands of a foreign opponent.
That's bad enough, but the more damning fact is that Cané has now gone 1-4 in his last five fights. His last victory came against the unthreatening Eliot Marshall, and that lackluster matchup wasn't even his most high-profile win.
Far better UFC fighters have been cut for far less.
If the UFC doesn't cut Cané, he'll need to shore up his striking defense, work on his knockout power and get ready to climb his way back up the rankings. But he'll be doing it against the bottom of the 185-pound barrel.
Renee Forte didn't have many options against Sergio Moraes on the ground, so he's lucky his opponent obliged him with some stand-up action.
However, Moraes didn't have much to worry about, as Forte gave up several takedowns and seemed to worry about getting into any extended grappling exchanges.
Out of all the performances on the preliminary card, Forte's was the weakest next to Cané's.
Don't expect to see him back for another fight in the talent-stacked UFC welterweight division—not without a satisfying win streak on the regional circuit.
It's hard to call Gambino a loser after a performance like that, but Diego Brandao just had a little more heat on his striking and a bit more strength in the clinch.
Although Gambino was game, the fight started to slip away from him as he was repeatedly slammed to the mat by Brandao and punished on the feet with whip-like kicks.
That's the difference between being good, and being really good.
It was a much better performance than the one Gambino turned in against Steven Siler, but that's still a worrisome two losses in just as many UFC fights.
'Not a good sign, no matter how you cut it.
Still, for a fight like that, Joey Gambino deserves one more shot in the UFC. Hopefully he gets that chance and proves himself by staying in the roster.
Francisco Trinaldo's loss to Gleison Tibau was a clear, textboook case of grit and experience overcoming technique and power.
From the close submission attempts to the blitzing haymakers, it was a tense affair, one where a finish seemed inches away from happening to both men at several points.
That's unfortunate for the powerful Brazilian Top Team fighter, but his record on the regional circuit and feisty performance should be enough for another phone call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
Surviving such a deep arm triangle in the last round after leaving it all on the mat is exactly what a pay-per-view crowd wants to see, so the massive Trinaldo definitely has a future at lightweight.
Sam Sicilia made Rony Jason's night absolutely hellish.
Through both rounds of the fight, Sicilia and Jason engaged in a wild brawl that saw each man take ridiculous power shot after ridiculous power shot to the head and body.
Ultimately, a poorly timed kick with a momentary lapse of judgement cost Sicilia the match, as he got flattened and finished by the Ulimate Fighter: Brazil winner.
But such an exciting performance shouldn't lower Silcilia's stock in the UFC by much; expect to see him back in the Octagon soon.
Even though he lost, both fighters came out of the match looking like world beaters.
Sicilia falls right into crowded waters of the featherweight division, but he might still be a few solid wins away from breaking into the elite ranks.
Has Rick Story ever been dominated that thoroughly before?
Right out of the gate, Demian Maia looked like he was in full control of their fight, swarming Story with tight grappling. Story never seemed comfortable, and his wrestling was effectively neutralized in a fairly one-sided submission loss.
It's a huge setback for "The Horror" and his title run aspirations, especially since it's the first time he's ever been finished. With this loss, he goes towards the back of the line.
Even though he's 1-3 in his last four fights, expect Story to get a tune-up fight against a less dangerous opponent at the tail end of a main card.
Prado gave Phil Davis far more trouble than some may have expected, but his loss is just a reminder of how good "Mr. Wonderful" really is on the mat.
It was far from one-sided, but it's telling that the best grappling defense Prado could muster was blatant fence-grabbing.
Takedown defense like that won't cut it against the top of the crust at light heavyweight, but if he shores up his submission game, Prado could have more options off his back.
Prado will be best served with a return for the next Brazil card, or at the very earliest, a preliminary fight against an overmatched 205-pound fighter on his UFC debut.
Erick Silva has nothing to be ashamed about.
Jon Fitch reminded all of us why he's considered one of the best grappling specialists in MMA, and wunderkind Silva just came up short in a battle of attrition against a wily veteran.
But the sky is still the limit for the young Brazilian.
Backed by very solid striking and an insanely tight rear-naked choke attempt, Silva came closer than most men have ever gotten to finishing Fitch.
Once he has a little more experience and improves his defensive wrestling, the young Team Nogueira standout should rise right back to the top of the division with a tidy winning streak against opponents just a notch below Fitch's level.
Silva will be back in a high-profile main card bout soon enough, and the UFC will position him against another welterweight just barely "in the mix."
It was horrifying to watch Fabio Maldonado suffer that first-round beating at the heavy hands of Glover Teixeira, but it's equally amazing that he stayed in the fight.
Still, even a brave performance like that might not save him from the cut list.
That's unfortunate, because Maldonado did something completely unintended—he made Teixeira look human.
From clipping Teixeira late in the first round (putting the bout's favorite on wobbly knees) to surviving several uncomfortable minutes of brutal ground-and-pound, everything Maldonaldo did slowly turned his opponent from "unstoppable juggernaut" to "very good fighter."
Considering how much effort the UFC put into signing and promoting Teixeira, that's something unlikely to be rewarded with another fight, especially after a three straight losses. Maldonado will be looking at a pink slip as he returns to the international MMA circuit—or possibly even the boxing ring.
(Author's Note: As addressed in the UFC 153 post-fight presser, Dana White confirmed Maldonado would not be cut after losing to Teixeira.)
How silly does Dave Herman look?
"Jiu-jitsu doesn't work on me."
Those are words that the Team Quest giant will have to eat for the rest of his career. It's bad enough that he did everything wrong in losing to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but the ending stanza was telegraphed from a mile away as soon as that last armbar attempt was applied.
Big Nog blasted Herman's upright chin with several shots, took his limbs with high accuracy and basically canceled out any advantage that Herman's wrestling would've afforded him.
Now, "Pee-Wee" stands at a three-fight losing streak, where he'll get bounced down to the bottom rung of the UFC heavyweight division.
It's unlikely that Herman will be cut with this loss (the 265-pound division is way too thin to let him go yet), but he'll be fodder for a heavyweight fighter in need of a tune-up fight, like Stipe Miocic.
Stephan Bonnar will always be a key part of UFC history, and it's fitting yet bittersweet that his biggest main event shot ends in a loss.
For years, Bonnar has been best known as "that guy who lost at The Ultimate Fighter" and simultaneously helped launch the UFC into the mainstream with one of MMA's most important fights.
Sadly, that's going to have to be enough for him.
Like so many others, Bonnar just couldn't compete with Silva's speed, technique, and power, eventually succumbing to the uncannily skilled pound-for-pound king.
Bonnar's days as a UFC fighter are done, and he leaves behind a career of potential never realized with a mountain of "what-ifs" to ponder.
If there's a silver lining, his future is probably set in stone for a while. Book deals, the UFC Hall of Fame, and MMA analyst gigs aren't a bad way to follow such a long fighting career.
And it'll have to do.
At UFC 153, Bonnar had the attention of the MMA world squarely on him for one last time, and he took an impossible challenge against an impossibly gifted opponent. Hopefully, that will satisfy the "American Psycho" as he looks to the future outside the Octagon.