UFC on Fox 5: What's Next for the Winners and Losers?
Many of the undercard fights were either fun to watch or fun to see how they ended. The opening fight that took a whopping 20 minutes to build up to ended with a huge KO from Matt Brown, which is always a great way to start off a card.
The BJ Penn-Rory MacDonald fight was tough to watch, but I still couldn't help but watch just to see Penn truly revert to being nothing more than a punching bag for the Canadian. Alexander Gustafsson and Mauricio Rua had a very entertaining first round, but then the rest of the fight went much of the way everyone had predicted.
In the main event Benson Henderson proved why he's the best in the world at 155 pounds. It's always a dangerous situation for a title fight to go all five rounds on network TV, but Nate Diaz did enough to warrant fans' continued interest as he showcased his BJJ skills despite being dominated.
The event was very entertaining to watch and discuss while on Twitter, but where do the fighters go from here? Let's look into the MMA crystal ball to see what's next for the winners and losers from the UFC on Fox 5 card.
Loser: John Albert
This one is going to sting for a while. John Albert had his opponent Scott Jorgensen in some trouble early in the round but found himself in trouble to end it.
Jorgensen had Albert flattened out and had the rear-naked choke locked in, forcing Albert to tap. That sounds like a very natural cause and effect, but Albert's hand tapped the mat with only a second to go in the first round.
What may contribute to Albert's pride taking a punch to the gut is the fact he may find himself on the regional circuit. The loss to Jorgensen was Albert's third in a row, and a 1-3 record in the UFC isn't likely to help his cause. What may help Albert is the fact his bout with Jorgensen won Fight of the Night honors, which could help him live another day in the Octagon.
Winner: Scott Jorgensen
It wasn't that long ago that Scott Jorgensen was a staple in the bantamweight title picture. But after two straight losses, Jorgensen needed to rebound in a big way to save his career.
John Albert put up a valiant effort in the opening minutes but eventually Jorgensen's talent took over. He was able to take the back mount and secure a tapout with a single second remaining in the first frame.
It's clear Jorgensen is still a solid fighter, but his days of being a true title challenger may be behind him. I'm sure Jorgensen doesn't believe that, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him pushed back up the shallow bantamweight division.
A scrap with Ivan Menjivar makes a lot of sense to me.
Loser: Nam Phan
Talk about heading back to the drawing board. Nam Phan has been billed as a very underrated fighter despite a mixed bag of a record but he looked like an extremely overrated fighter against Dennis Siver.
In the first round Phan was outmatched on the feet, then in the following rounds he became outclassed on the ground as well. Phan had no answers for the game of Siver, and while the kickboxer is no slouch, it's a definite eye-opener for Phan due to the nature of the loss.
Rodrigo Damm is a guy who's also coming off a loss with the ground game to challenge Phan on the ground but has been susceptible to the KO. Phan could also face Joey Gambino in a "make or break" type matchup for both men.
Winner: Dennis Siver
Dennis Siver has been in the UFC for years but never seemed to get much momentum going. That has all changed since dropping to featherweight. It appears 145 pounds is where Siver belongs as he's defeated two durable opponents.
What's most impressive about Siver's victory was the way in which he won. A kickboxer by trade, Siver displayed an improving overall game by controlling Nam Phan on the mat as well as on the feet.
After beating Diego Nunes and Phan, I believe it's time for Siver to face some better competition to see if he's a true title contender.
Darren Elkins has been on a role lately and would provide a true test for how well Siver's ground game has improved.
Loser: Marcus LeVesseur
Props should go to Marcus LeVesseur for stepping up on 24 hours' notice and also for sustaining that much punishment without quitting. Abel Trujillo looked great but it's clear LeVesseur was overmatched from the start.
LeVessuer is only 1-2 in his UFC run but earned some good will from Joe Silva and Dana White for stepping in on late notice. He has a great wrestling pedigree which should help him in the future and holds a victory over a tough Carlo Prater which should help retain some of his confidence after this loss.
A fight with Sam Stout could provide an interesting striker vs. grappler matchup. Mac Danzig is another guy who's been inconsistent in the UFC to face LeVesseur.
Winner: Abel Trujillo
Now that, my friends, is what you call a UFC debut. Sure it came against a last-minute opponent who was clearly overmatched, but it was still impressive.
Abel Trujillo put a beatdown on Marcus LeVesseur and finally finished the fight with some vicious knees to the body. Joe Rogan was high on Trujillo following the fight, but with a debut like this how can you blame him?
Trujillo is now on a five-fight winning streak and has a solid group of guys to train with, so he should improve.
John Makdessi recently got off a losing streak, and a stand-up battle between him and Trujillo could be a Fight of the Night candidate on any card. I wouldn't mind seeing him against Gleison Tibau either, but I feel that may be a bit too much too soon for the lightweight prospect.
Loser: Henry Martinez
Henry Martinez took some heat following the weigh ins as he missed weight and refused to cut the extra pounds but he no doubt earned some of that good will by displaying a ton of heart against Daron Cruickshank.
Martinez kept swinging away until the final bell but he may have shaved off a few years from his life from the beating he sustained. The fact that he was telling cage side doctors he was fine only moments after getting kicked into a state of unconsciousness speaks volumes about the guys toughness.
Still, a loss is a loss and this was a pretty lopsided fight. Dana White and company aren't big on fighters who can't make weight so it will be interesting to see what the UFC does with Martinez following his fight.
Facing Marcus LeVesseur would make sense as both guys are no doubt in need of a win following their disastrous performances Saturday night.
Winner: Daron Cruickshank
Daron Cruickshank looked great against Henry Martinez as he displayed a number of striking techniques that left fans in awe. His win over fellow Ultimate Fighter competitor Chris Tickle earned him another day in the Octagon but this win may have earned him a new contract.
Cruickshank blasted away at Martinez for the better part of two rounds but showed patience despite having Martinez hurt on a number of occasions. The head-kick KO was a perfect way to end this dominant performance by the former Ultimate Fighter competitor.
Just like with Abel Trujillo, a fight with John Makdessi would be a very fun stand up war to watch. I wouldn't mind seeing him face the winner of Melvin Guillard-Jamie Varner either.
Loser: Joe Proctor
Former Ultimate Fighter competitor Joe Proctor put up a valiant effort against Ramsey Nijem but ultimately came up short on the judge's scorecards.
Proctor was able to win his fight on The Ultimate Finale but his battle with Nijem proves he's not ready for a high level opponent just yet.
It would seem to make sense for Proctor to face the loser of the lightweight finals of TUF: Smashes or possibly the loser of the upcoming Mike Rio vs. John Cofer bout.
Winner: Ramsey Nijem
Since losing The Ultimate Fighter contract to Tony Ferguson, Ramsey Nijem has been on quite a roll. The lightweight has won three-consecutive bouts and is showing an improved game each time out.
I wouldn't mind seeing Nijem face Takanori Gomi in an "old vs. new" showdown, though I'm sure the UFC has bigger plans for Gomi following his Fight of the Night performance. Facing the winner of Myles Jury vs. Michael Johnson also makes sense given that both fighters are on impressive rolls in their career.
Loser: Mike Easton
Mike Easton needed a big performance to regain some momentum he lost from the "strategic" clash he had with Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148. Unfortunately for him it didn't come Saturday night as he lost an unanimous decision to Raphael Assuncao.
Easton was able to take a round on a judge's scorecards but was swept cleanly by Assuncao on the other scorecards.
Easton is an exciting fighter so he'll always have that in his pocket but it's always better for a fighter to figure out what's next after a win rather than a loss. I wouldn't mind the UFC matching him up with Jeff Hougland to try and give the exciting Easton a "bounce back" type of fight.
Winner: Raphael Assuncao
Raphael Assuncao was a good fighter in the WEC days but hit a rough patch in 2010 where the Brazilian went 1-3. Since then however Assuncao has gone 3-1 with his only loss coming to top featherweight Erik Koch.
Assuncao has yet to taste defeat since dropping to bantamweight.
Facing the winner of Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius would make sense as both men are on big win streaks just like Assuncao. I would imagine Assuncao would also like the chance to erase that defeat he was handed by Urijah Faber now that the former champion is a full time competitor at 135 pounds.
Loser: Jeremy Stephens
Jeremy Stephens probably shouldn't have been in an Octagon Saturday given the fact he has a very important court date coming up soon. Worse yet, it was the first time Stephens was ever stopped via KO and make no mistake about it, Stephens was out cold.
The loss made it three-straight for Stephens and that usually means a fighter gets sent to the regional circuit. However, Stephens is always involved in exciting fights and that could help save him his job for now.
Depending on how his court date plays out it will be interesting to see how the UFC handles a guy with three-straight losses. The loser of Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner would seem to make sense and a good matchup for the fans as well as Thiago Tavares or Justin Salas.
Winner: Yves Edwards
Yves Edwards is being heralded as one of the best lightweights to compete in recent memory. I'm not sure if I agree with that but there's no way to deny that the master of "thug-jitsu" is always entertaining to watch.
Edwards knockout of Jeremy Stephens was a beautifully timed counter and let's hope Edwards can make a habit of avoiding his opponent's strikes in the future as I don't want to see another Tony Ferguson-Edwards incident.
I think a fight with George Sotiropoulos would make sense as both are well known fighters and could be an interesting clash of styles. That fight would no doubt provide some interesting scrambles on the ground as well.
Loser: Mike Swick
Everyone loves to discusses how quick Mike Swick is, but we often forget how bad Swick's chin appears to have become. He may be able to hit someone with a flurry of shots, but it seems Swick can't handle taking any in return.
Still, he's a talented fighter with a big name that will always be a hit with fans due to appearing on the first Ultimate Fighter.
I wouldn't mind seeing him face Papy Abedi for his next time out. Both are guys that have high expectations placed upon them but haven't even come close to matching them.
Winner: Matt Brown
Memo to fighters: It's probably a good idea to write your fans back on the Internet. Or else they may grow up to be another Matt Brown and exact some revenge.
Regardless of whatever back story the UFC tried selling on us for Brown's fight with Mike Swick the only storyline that matters is the fact that Brown is on a four-fight winning streak. It seems as if he's finally turned to corner from journeyman to possible contender and I believe he deserves a step up in competition.
I know Dong-Hyun Kim wants to rematch with Demian Maia but given that the Brazilian is already facing Jon Fitch, I believe a fight with Matt Brown makes sense. Kim is very strong and would no doubt test Brown's durability on the ground.
Martin Kampmann may be coming off a loss but without a lot of viable matchups at the top, facing Brown would be a fun fight to watch.
Loser: BJ Penn
BJ Penn told us for the 1,000th time that he was in shape and motivated, and once again Penn failed to prove it. He was outmatched from the start against Rory MacDonald, and it was downright sad seeing Penn doing nothing more than stand in fear as MacDonald blasted him with shots.
You have to believe the fire is truly gone from the Hawaiian after watching MacDonald dance in front of him and Penn not doing anything to answer the taunts.
If Penn is going to step in the Octagon once more he had better step on the scales and weigh 155 pounds the day before.
Winner: Rory MacDonald
I'm going to be a bit reserved than most fans with Rory MacDonald's progression given his recent level of competition but there's no denying the kid is talented. He was crisp with his strikes against a fresh BJ Penn in the first round and showed the mark of a veteran by being patient while looking for the KO.
He thoroughly dominated Penn from bell to bell and even managed to score a takedown on Penn who is notoriously difficult to wrestle to the mat. MacDonald also displayed some improved strikes including the flashy but effective "fake low, go high" kick used by other fighters like Donald Cerrone.
MacDonald called out Carlos Condit and I would love to see them rematch as their 2010 fight included a comeback for the ages by Condit.
Also, props should go to MacDonald and Penn for undergoing the VADA testing in the lead up to this fight.
Loser: Maurico Rua
For five minutes it seemed as if the old Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was back. But then the Rua of today finally appeared.
Rua has been involved in a lot of wars throughout in his career and it's clearly worn the Brazilian down. He was a top 10 ranked fighter coming into his bout with Alexander Gustafsson but it's clear Rua belongs on the "senior circuit" competing in novelty fights.
The Brazilian continued to show improvements in his wrestling and threw everything he could to try and take the Swede down. Ultimately it wasn't enough and Rua tasted the sting of defeat in the UFC once more.
I think facing the loser of Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira makes sense or perhaps Thiago Silva once the Brazilian returns from a suspension.
Winner: Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson seemingly earned a crack at whomever the UFC light heavyweight champion is after Jon Jones meets Chael Sonnen, but don't count me as one of the fans who will be clamoring for it.
It's nothing against Gustafsson but I just don't believe he's ready for a guy with the talent of Jones. Gustafsson took way too many blows against Mauricio Rua given how much of a length advantage he enjoyed and struggled against Rua's wrestling which is notoriously bad.
If Gustafsson doesn't fight for the title in his next bout, I wouldn't mind seeing him face Rashad Evans if he wins his fight in February...or perhaps the winner of Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson.
Loser: Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz displayed why he's a very talented fighter against Benson Henderson. He was clearly outclassed by Henderson but nonetheless pulled out every Brazilian jiu-jitsu trick he could think of.
Henderson was just too strong and too good to be caught by Diaz's slick submission game. The lightweight champion also did a good job of not falling into Diaz's head games.
Diaz likes to pepper opponents at range using his length, but he couldn't figure out a way to counter Henderson's leg kicks.
Diaz and Gray Maynard have a history with one another and a fight between those two makes sense in terms of rankings despite the fact Maynard is coming off a victory. Facing the loser of Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis would also be a good matchup.
Winner: Benson Henderson
Benson Henderson validated his place as the best lightweight in the world. Nate Diaz was overmatched throughout the contest but is still a tough task for anyone to overcome.
He used his strength and wrestling game to negate the boxing and length of Diaz. While on the ground Henderson showcased his trademark submission defense as Diaz pulled out all the stops in trying to tap out "Smooth" Henderson.
Despite the fact the lightweight division is stacked with talent, there's no clear No. 1 contender at the moment. I have to believe the UFC will be bringing Gilbert Melendez into the Octagon as soon as possible.