The Biggest MMA Losers from the Month of December
December 31's transformation into January 1 is typically the most celebrated time of any given year, 2012-13 not excepting. Whether watching a giant shiny ball lower down a poll in Times Square, sipping champagne in a tuxedo or sitting at home in pajamas just to be awake at midnight, New Year's Eve is something most people take in with festive spirits.
Not everyone feels like celebrating, though, and when we look to the MMA community, some have very good reason not to feel like celebrating.
Here, we'll take a look at 15 fighters who had forgettable Decembers and who were probably not in the party mood this New Year's Eve.
Right now, anytime a top UFC middleweight fighter loses, it's devastating to his title chances. The division is just so crowded at the top, and any slip, however small, can move you to the back of the line.
That's what happened to Belcher when he dropped a decision to Yushin Okami at UFC 155. He came in riding a four-fight win streak, but left with a whole lot of damage control to do.
He now finds himself towards the back of a lengthy line formed by a bevy of strong 185-pound challengers like Okami, Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Costa Philippou and Hector Lombard.
Belcher will need a big 2013 if he plans on cutting through all of that to get to Anderson Silva.
Boetsch is in the same boat as Belcher.
Alliteration aside, the defeat "The Barbarian" suffered to Costa Philippou at UFC 155 was a big one. Big not only because it moves him down the middleweight ladder, but also because it gives credence to the prevailing belief that Boetsch will be unable to sustain his 2011-12 production over the long term.
Sure, Boetsch broke his hand, was poked in the eye and got cut by an accidental head-butt, but a loss is a loss, and his December failing will not be the easiest to come back from quickly.
It seems that Brookins has become disinterested in pursuing a career in mixed martial arts. If that's the case, perhaps his December performance isn't that meaningful to him, big picture.
But if he does hope to stick with this UFC thing, he'll have to avoid outings like his fight against against Dustin Poirier in the TUF 16 finale.
After finding early success on the feet, Brookins essentially walked forward with his chin exposed and his hands down. He didn't seem all too concerned about moving his head, either.
Before long he was tagged, dropped and submitted.
It was a terrible showing and his third loss in four contests.
Shane del Rosario
Del Rosario entered the UFC in 2012 undefeated and regarded as a top heavyweight prospect.
He'll leave 2012 as a fighter that looks incapable of hacking it in the UFC's heavyweight division.
A May loss to Stipe Miocic followed by a December defeat to Pat Barry has put Del Rosario in a bad spot.
A real bad spot.
2013 may have originally been scheduled for rising up the ranks. Now all there will be time for is damage control.
Diaz earned a shot at the UFC lightweight title last December after rattling off a trio of impressive wins. He entered his championship showdown with Ben Henderson as a live underdog, but once the fighting began, he looked well in over his head.
Diaz was thoroughly outclassed and outmuscled all night long. While that doesn't take anything away from the run that landed him the title fight, it does suggest he has a ways to go before he's truly a championship threat.
At just 27 Diaz has the time to figure it out. But still, December was very much a rude awakening for the submission specialist.
Junior dos Santos
Had JDS taken out Cain Velasquez for a second consecutive time, he would have been the undisputed heavyweight champion, the most prestigious accolade of any combat sport.
Instead, he's now nursing his considerable wounds and is looking up at his nemesis from the No. 2 position in the division.
Dos Santos may very well recover to recapture his lost crown one day, but he lost more than any other mixed martial artist did last December.
Easton came into his UFC on Fox 5 bout with considerable hype. He left it with considerably less.
Everyone in MMA is capable of losing, but Easton didn't look much like a future contender, nor a present contender, last December. He was consistently beaten to the punch by opponent Raphael Assuncao, who cruised to a victory that looked to be as easy as it was surprising.
If Easton wants to salvage even the smallest fraction of the momentum he dumped last month, he'll have to come out on fire and look better than ever next time out.
It took McKee 12 years of MMA experience before he cracked the UFC roster in 2011. After one fight with the promotion—a split-decision loss to Jacob Volkmann—McKee was released.
Afterwards, McKee would run off three straight victories in three different promotions. These post-UFC performances landed him a major role at Dream's New Year's Eve event last December 31.
In search of a signature win over Shinya Aoki, McKee suffered a second-round submission (punches) loss.
At 42, the amount of time remaining for McKee to make an impact on the sport is now minuscule.
Over the past few years, Omigawa has dominated the Japanese MMA scene and has been beaten up in the UFC. In December, 2012, however, he was beat up at Dream 18 by Tatsuya Kawajiri. In Japan.
Before the loss, Omigawa had gone 8-1 over his previous nine fights in the Land of the Rising Sun, with victories over L.C. Davis, Nam Phan, Marlon Sandro, Hatsu Hioki and Hiroyuki Takaya.
It looks like the journeyman will have to find a new secret recipe for success, now that the whole Japan thing seems to have failed him.
Perhaps it's time to watch some tape and see if any correlations between trunk color and outcome can be established.
Not only was Palhares defeated soundly by Hector Lombard at UFC on FX 6, but he was also knocked out of relevancy.
The Brazilian has never really put together a convincing run, but for a time he looked to be the strongest ground fighter in the UFC's packed middleweight division.
Back-to-back knockouts resulting from absorbing ground strikes doesn't do much to solidify that reputation, however, and Palhares now looks more like a one-trick pony than a future contender.
Though opponents will continue to tread lightly on the mat when sharing the Octagon with "Toquinho," December's showing suggests top-level guys aren't likely to be thwarted by Palhares' leg-hunting.
The expectations for the Brazilian entering 2013 are significantly lower than they were entering 2012, and that is not something characteristic of a career on the right path.
Few expected Penn to actually beat Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 5, but the thrashing he received from the youngster was just plain ugly.
After a competitive minute or two to begin the fight, "The Prodigy" went from opponent to sparing partner to punching bag.
Truly, Penn's was a comeback that went nowhere at nearly the speed of light.
Expected to cruise to a TUF championship last December, Ricci was ridden like a horse by Colton Smith for almost the entirety of their decisive finals bout.
Though he was competing above his natural weight class, Ricci had no answer for Smith's persistent attack and suffered what had to have been a frustrating and somewhat humiliating defeat.
The Tristar product will likely get a chance to further his MMA career in the UFC, but his official start with the promotion was certainly not a storybook one, and Ricci's upside appears to be highly questionable since last December 15.
Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua
Shogun's UFC on Fox 5 loss to Alexander Gustafsson wasn't a blowout, but it did confirm that he is no longer fighting at an elite level.
A high level, yes, but not an elite level.
While Rua remains a decent draw in the UFC and a tough opponent for anyone he faces, the sad reality is that too many wars and too many surgeries have put the once-great light heavyweight on the declining road to ruin in his early 30s.
There's no doubt Shogun is far from finished, but his December performance confirmed what we've suspected for a while now: Rua is finished as a UFC title contender.
Sotiropoulos' UFC on FX 6 loss to Ross Pearson was a tough one to swallow for two reasons. One, there was some bad blood between the two men, and losing that type of rivalry is never fun.
Two, it marked the third straight time that he has failed to walk away with a W.
At 35 years of age, Sotiropoulos is very likely done as a viable contender. He had a terrific run between 2007 and 2010 but has fallen on hard times, and it is now improbable that he'll rejuvenate his career for a second surge.
At the very least, December, 2012 marked the final time you'll be seeing Sotiropoulos anchor a UFC card.
Stephens battled some legal troubles in 2012 and struggled through some career issues as well.
Namely, seeing his current winless streak stretch to three fights in December.
At UFC on Fox 5 Stephens suffered the first knockout loss of his career and renounced his membership to the UFC lightweight division.
In 2013 he'll make the drop to featherweight, where he'll hope to reanimate a career that has looked lifeless since December.