For the second time in two fights, Alan Belcher was thoroughly dominated by Yushin Okami in a unanimous decision loss.
That defeat comes at a particularly bad time for Belcher, killing what could have been an impressive five-win streak in the suddenly flexible UFC middleweight division.
Maybe he wasn't remotely close to challenging the likes of Anderson Silva or Michael Bisping, but Belcher likely sniffed his last whiff of elite competition for a while on Saturday. Barring any breakout victories, there's also not likely going to be any title talks for the next year or two.
So where does "The Talent" go from here?
At this point, the only way to go is up.
Even though Belcher lost at UFC 155, he's still on the right side of 30 years old and has a little over a year to quietly rack up another winning streak.
Conventional wisdom says that Belcher could spend 2013 playing gatekeeper status to the division's "Top 10" group, where he could rack up some wins fighting equally-skilled UFC opponents or the upcoming influx of Strikeforce middleweights.
Optimally, a fight with Chris Leben or Mark Munoz seems like the best option.
Both Leben and Munoz are coming off losses, and they have enough name value to make a fight with Belcher a solid addition to the main card of an FX, Fuel TV or PPV card.
However, Belcher could also upset a big-name middleweight coming off a loss.
In a few months, the losers of Bisping vs. Vitor Belfort and Brian Stann vs. Wanderlei Silva will likely need game opponents, while Rich Franklin also needs a tune-up fight. Belcher more than fits the bill, as he's still a tough test for anyone in the division.
Either way, Belcher's only option is another winning streak.
Recovering lost ground will be his best move right now, and with a little luck, Belcher might even be able to get himself another four-fight winning streak before he eventually runs up against some even stiffer competition next year.