MMA Fighters Who Were Exposed in 2012
The unpredictable nature of sports is part of what makes them so entertaining. Of all the many different sports that are out there, MMA is among the most unpredictable, as a single punch can change the entire direction of a bout.
Many fighters who entered 2012 as contenders, or very bright prospects, now find themselves struggling to remain on the UFC roster or have already been released from the organization. Conversely, many competitors who started the year as unknown commodities are now considered elite athletes.
We will focus on the fighters who faltered over the past 12 months. These are the competitors who weren't as talented as many considered them to be heading into 2012.
Yuri Alcantara was dominant in his first two UFC appearances against Felipe Arantes and Michihiro Omigawa, leading many to believe he could become a contender in the featherweight division.
When it was announced his third Octagon showing would come against a UFC newcomer in Hacran Dias, Alcantara was pegged as a significant favorite.
Though Dias had not proven himself against elite competition, he was able to take Alcantara down on five occasions en route to a decisive victory.
Now that the holes in his takedown defense have been exposed, Alcantara has decided to make the drop to the bantamweight division, where he will meet George Roop in January.
Through his first four UFC bouts, Edson Barboza looked like he could become the Jose Aldo of the lightweight division. The Brazilian's leg kicks were a sight to behold, but his technical kickboxing wasn't enough to keep him undefeated in the world's top MMA promotion.
When Barboza ran into an aggressive opponent with experience in Jamie Varner, he was overwhelmed quickly and stopped in the first round.
At 26 years old, Barboza still has plenty of potential, but his loss to Varner showed he won't be rising to the top of the lightweight division as quickly as some predicted.
With three wins in his first three Octagon appearances and a strong team behind him at Alliance MMA, Mike Easton was on the verge of becoming a serious contender in the bantamweight division.
However, two of Easton's first three victories came via very close decisions, and his tendency to avoid taking big risks ended up coming back to bite him in his most recent outing.
In another narrowly contested bout, Easton was unable to take Raphael Assuncao to the ground and was hesitant to unload a high number of strikes on his feet.
A former Shooto champion and widely considered one of the top flyweights in the world, Jussier Formiga was expected to contend for a title almost instantly upon his arrival to the Octagon.
However, Formiga faced a tough test in his first UFC appearance. Unable to utilize his excellent ground game against a solid wrestler in John Dodson, Formiga was forced to stand and strike.
A stand-up bout against the speedy Dodson did not work out well for Formiga, who was knocked out in the second round of his debut.
Nobody will ever mistake Melvin Guillard for a cautious fighter. The long-time UFC lightweight has always been a competitor who comes out swinging and empties his gas tank early while looking for the finish.
That being said, many expected Guillard to make some type of adjustment after suffering a shocking first-round loss in October 2011 to Joe Lauzon, who capitalized on the wild aggression of Guillard.
Sure enough, though, Guillard suffered two similar defeats at the hands of Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone in 2012. Guillard started strong in both bouts, but he was caught while looking for the finish and found himself being stopped before the end of the opening round.
Dominant against Alex Caceres and Nam Phan in his first two UFC fights, 25-year-old Jimy Hettes was beginning to draw plenty of attention as one of the brightest prospects in the featherweight division.
However, once he found an opponent in Marcus Brimage who he had trouble taking to the ground, Hettes was exposed as somewhat one-dimensional.
While he went the distance with Brimage, Hettes took a thumping on his feet and showed he has some work to do before he reaches his full potential.
Former Shooto and Sengoku champion, Hatsu Hioki, is a very solid featherweight fighter. There's no denying that, but he's not the potential threat to Jose Aldo that he was painted as just prior to joining the UFC roster.
Hioki's narrow win over George Roop in his Octagon debut was pardoned due to potential nerves associated with competing in the UFC for the first time. However, a recent loss to Ricardo Lamas showed that Hioki's close bout with Roop was no fluke.
At 29 years old, Hioki still has a few good years of fighting left in him, but he might not ever become the contender that many thought he'd be.
A long-time Bellator champion, Hector Lombard had the opportunity to make a quick run at a middleweight title shot under the UFC banner. However, his championship hopes were postponed quickly following a loss to Tim Boetsch in his Octagon debut.
Though very well-rounded, Lombard has become known as one of the most dangerous strikers in the 185-pound division. Boetsch laid a blueprint for dealing with Lombard's heavy hands by utilizing leg kicks to keep his opponent at distance.
It has been no secret that Rousimar Palhares' greatest weapons are his leg locks. However, it had previously looked like the Brazilian might have more in his arsenal.
In 2012, it was proved that may not be the case, as Palhares suffered two first-round knockout losses.
Against Alan Belcher, Palhares was unable to trap his opponent's leg in an early scramble, and the dangerous grappler was unable to take Hector Lombard to the ground at all in his most recent outing. In both instances, Palhares crumbled after his early attempts to work toward a leg lock failed.
As a former Shooto champion, Yasuhiro Urushitani was supposed to aide in building the UFC's flyweight division. Instead, he's still searching for his first UFC win after two Octagon appearances.
Prior to his debut with the organization, Urushitani was considered one of the elite 125-pound fighters in the world. Now, he's probably not even one of the 10 best flyweights on UFC's roster.
If Urushitani loses in his next fight, he could be released and would likely be remembered as one of the biggest disappointments in UFC history.