After physically shaking up the mixed martial arts landscape two years ago with a huge knockout win over Keith Jardine in a mere 48 seconds, followed by an equally impressive first-round KO win over Alessio Sakara, Houston Alexander appeared well on the fast track toward a light heavyweight title shot and UFC super-stardom, with those two fights lasting less than two minutes—combined.
Then, Alexander's great rise soon surprisingly fell to the wayside, with two consecutive losses.
First, Thiago Silva derailed Alexander with a brutal beat down that lasted nearly three and one-half first-round minutes. Soon, fight fans, who over-hyped Alexander as the next "big thing," realized the flaws in his fight style.
Enter The Sandman.
James Irvin hit Alexander square on the kisser and the fight ended after only eight seconds, tying for the fastest knockout in UFC history. Alexander's limp and lifeless body lay temporarily unconscious on the mat, thus referee Steve Mazzagatti had no choice but to deem the fighter unable to continue.
Despite protests from Alexander's corner, the decision upheld and Alexander left UFC Fight Night 13; still with his first four UFC fights ending in the first round streak intact, albeit this time he lost.
In his hometown of Omaha, the "Nebraskan Assassin" once again failed to survive the first round, losing to BJJ ace Eric Schafer via an arm triangle choke submission at UFC Fight Night 15, with seven seconds left in the first round.
Alexander inked an exclusive five-fight deal with the UFC, before his "Knockout of the Night" win over Sakara at UFC 75.
Since then, Houston experienced a myriad of problems, succumbing to fans' high expectations and unduly pressure, losing his next three fights in trilling fashion and certainly not what Alexander or any one was anticipating.
Alexander looks to right the ship this May at UFC 98, when he fights IFL veteran fighter Andre Gusmao in a preliminary bout.
Gusmao last lost to the UFC's next rising light heavyweight superstar Jon "Bones" Jones, who took the fight with Gusmao on three weeks' short notice, during both fighters' debut at UFC 87.
Is Jones the next Alexander?
Before entering the UFC, Jones racked up five knockouts, including three fights in three weeks and won the Battle Cage Xtreme Light Heavyweight Championship in just three months.
Keeping up with the 21 year old Jones, one of the youngest fighters on the UFC's roster, seems easier said behind a mic than done inside a UFC Octagon.
Although Jones won via unanimous decisions in his only two UFC fights against Gusmao and Bonnar respectively, he did wow fans with his spinning elbows, back-fists, and crazy wrestling suplex-like throw downs.
Jones took down Bonnar a record nine times in their fight. Bonnar is a legit fighter who looked impressive against current UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, albeit Bonnar lost both via unanimous decision.
Not to mention, a first-round TKO at the hands of quite possibly the future UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. Bonnar is no slouch and Jones' win means he'll be a mainstay in the light heavyweight division for quite some time.
Next, Jones puts his undefeated streak on the line against Jake O'Brien at UFC 100.
Should he win convincingly, fans may instantly compare Jones and Alexander. Even though Jones hasn't yet had his signature UFC knockout or a subsequent downfall, Alexander's win over Jardine, a fighter Bonnar beat, doesn't compare to what Jones has accomplished in just two UFC fights.
If Alexander ever hopes to return to the top of the title picture, he'll need to dominate this fight and several others. He must also prove to both Dana White and UFC fans that he's improved his Octagon ground game and can perform at a peak level every time he fights.
Still, even with a win at UFC 98, Alexander will need to win several more fights against the better light heavyweights now banging bones in the UFC, Jones may not need as many.