Michael Bisping once again finds himself on the outside looking in on the title picture.
Another night of UFC fights. Another set of eleven fighters (well...10 this time) now officially coming off a loss.
What this card lacked in star power, it made up for in exciting finishes tailored directly for the Brazilian audience. With fighters at the top of their division, at the bottom of their division and everywhere in between, there are some very compelling matches to be made.
But who, pray tell, should face who? Find out right here!
C.J. Keith will probably find himself cut from the UFC after going 0-2.
Francisco Trinaldo and C.J. Keith both entered the Octagon coming off losses. Either Trinaldo was going to advance to 1-2 in his UFC career, or Keith would find himself at 0-2.
Very few fighters, especially ones with absolutely no name value like these two, survive that situation, and because of that, this was the fight that most clearly had guys fighting for their jobs. That in mind, with C.J. Keith getting absolutely dominated by Francisco Trinaldo, Keith is likely going to find himself in smaller California promotions.
C.J. Keith started his career 8-0, but with two losses to less than amazing opponents (his first loss came to Ramsey Nijem), he just doesn't seem to be ready for the big time. At age 26, he could still find himself back in the UFC some time down the road.
Right now, though? There really doesn't seem to be a place for him, especially considering the UFC just added so many Strikeforce fighters.
Wagner Prado didn't get a fair shake in the UFC and likely will be ejected as a result.
Another fight, another ugly turn of events for Wagner Prado, who now finds himself at 0-2 (1) in the Octagon. This will likely be the young Brazilian's last fight in the cage.
Is this fair? Not at all.
Prado was wrongly pitted against Phil Davis in his UFC debut, and then again after their first fight ended in a no-contest due to an inadvertent eye poke. Davis is unanimously ranked in the top 10 of the light heavyweight division, while Prado was a green knockout artist who had, at that point, exclusively fought in smaller Brazilian promotions. It was as obvious a mismatch as a fight can be.
Now with another loss on his record, Prado probably won't have to worry about fighting outside Brazil for a while. Look for him to be shown the door along with C.J. Keith in the coming days.
I just talked about how Wagner Prado was fed to Phil Davis. The same goes for Lucas Martins presenting himself as a gift-wrapped win for Edson Barboza, who became a high-profile lightweight with one awesome kick. The fight went exactly as the UFC was hoping, with Lucas Martin adding a highlight reel-worthy knockout to Edson Barboza's resume.
It's easy to peg where Martins will end up from here: fighting any given lightweight newcomer or a lightweight TUF veteran coming off a loss.
He might be matched against somebody like Kurt Holobaugh. He might be matched against somebody like Colin Fletcher or Al Iaquinta.
Look for him to get another shot in the Octagon, regardless.
Diego Nunes has gone from contender to midtier over the last two years.
It's hard to believe it at this point, but Diego Nunes was actually one of the scariest featherweights in MMA just two years ago. Since beating Mike Brown at UFC 125, however, Nunes is 2-3 and finds himself unsure about where he ranks in a division that is now among the deepest in MMA.
Nunes' job is not on the line at this point. He's still a solid featherweight and has enough name value that he is still one of the more recognizable fighters at 145 pounds these days.
That said, he is officially cemented as a stepping stone now. A fight against somebody like Antonio Carvalho, Steven Siler or Milton Vieira makes sense.
Craig lost a tough fight but still has a bright future ahead of him.
In a battle between well-regarded middleweight prospects, Andrew Craig found himself on the wrong end of a unanimous decision, suffering the first loss in his MMA career. While it's undoubtedly a frustrating setback for him, his future remains bright.
Craig is still in the prospect phase of his career and because of that, expects to continue facing fellow young guns for a bit longer. Luckily for him, there is no shortage of talented middleweights in the UFC these days.
The original season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil featured a solid crop of middleweight talent. The upcoming TUF 17 will also feature middleweights. Any given midlevel fighter from those seasons would be a solid next opponent for Craig. Either that or a Strikeforce import like Derek Brunson would work.
After a back-and-forth war with Godofredo Pepey, Milton Vieira was only able to convince one judge he was the victor and sank to 0-1-1 in his UFC career.
As somebody that has been fighting for 12 years now, Vieira is one of the few well-seasoned fighters in the featherweight division and because of that, has a distinct place in the UFC as long as he doesn't string together too many losses. Given how ridiculous the UFC's featherweight matchmaking has been, however, they might not realize how much of an asset Vieira, who has fought guys like Hayato Sakurai, Jake Shields and Johnny Eduardo, really is.
Since he hasn't lost two in a row, and since both those non-wins have been very competitive, he should be looking at another fight. It will likely come against another featherweight with his job on the line, such as George Roop or Daniel Pineda.
Fun fact about Thiago Tavares: He's been with the UFC since 2007 and sported a 7-4-1 record coming into the fight. He owns wins over Spencer Fisher, Manny Gamburyan, Michihiro Omigawa and Sam Stout. Then Khabib Nurmagomedov destroyed him.
Tavares still owns a solid UFC record and remains 4-2-1 in his last seven fights, so his job is in no way threatened. It's just a really, really strong showing by the 24-year-old Russian.
Anyway, Tavares is a veteran in the lightweight division, which keeps seeing solid young fighters who need testing against savvy veterans. Myles Jury, Ramsey Nijem, Tony Ferguson, Norman Parke and Michael Chiesa all make sense. He could also be reasonably slotted against a Strikeforce import like Ryan Couture or K.J. Noons.
Ben Rothwell lost badly to Gabriel Gonzaga but still has a secure job in the UFC.
Remember when Ben Rothwell went on a 13-fight winning streak and dominated the IFL's heavyweight division? Me neither.
Since joining the UFC, Ben Rothwell has gone 2-3, beating Gilbert Yvel and Brendan Schaub and losing to Cain Velasquez, Mark Hunt and, now, Gabriel Gonzaga. Gabriel Gonzaga is one of the best heavyweights in MMA history, for sure. That said, he's well outside the top 20 in the division these days (keep in mind, he was cut from the UFC in 2010).
This is a bad sign for Rothwell, and really just shows how divided the heavyweight division is these days between actual well-rounded mixed martial artists and huge brawlers.
That said, he still deserves a spot in the UFC and is actually one of the youngest fighters in the division these days. Fights against Pat Barry, Stipe Miocic, Lavar Johnson and Matt Mitrione all make sense.
Daniel Sarafian gets an A for effort. In all seriousness, C.B. Dollaway has been around the block a few times. He is no slouch.
Sarafian, who should have been in the middleweight finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil but had to withdraw due to an arm injury, really made him work for his win. While Sarafian is no youngster at age 30, Sarafian clearly has what it takes to fight in the UFC.
In terms of opponents, there are more than a few options for Sarafian. As you've probably noticed from all the other slides, there are plenty of folks from TUF and Strikeforce who need to get tested by somebody comparable to Sarafian.
One of his TUF: Brazil alumnus makes sense. The same goes for Court McGee, Nick Ring or, if he stays out of the cage for a while, somebody from TUF 17.
Michael Bisping lost a tough one against Vitor Belfort and was knocked out of title contention.
Eesh. That's a tough turn for Michael Bisping, who once again finds a title berth slipping through his fingers.
Anderson Silva was rooting for the TUF 3 winner, who ranks among the most popular fighters in the UFC. Now, though, Bisping once again finds himself smacked back down from title contention into being “just” another top-10 fighter.
Still, Bisping remains a valuable commodity and a high-ranking middleweight. He is an in-demand fighter in a hot division, giving him plenty of amazing potential fights.
Chris Weidman could use a serious test to cement his top-contender status. Hector Lombard has been calling him out personally. Costa Philippou is in a serious “pretender or contender?” spot right now. That's just among UFC fighters. Bouts with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy all make sense as well.
Plenty of options for Bisping to start his comeback trail.