UFC 156: What's Next for the Losers
The UFC came back to Las Vegas on Saturday night with a stellar card of fights. Fans were treated to a superfight main event, monumental upsets, the tremendous success of Strikeforce's former stars and the crowning of new title hopefuls in a new division.
Where do they go from here? Let's examine the options as we analyze what's next for every UFC 156 loser.
We will take a look at each fighter whose luck ran dry in Las Vegas. Where do they go from here? Who should they face next? Let's take a look!
Edwin Figueroa & Chico Camus
Edwin Figueroa, who was knocked out by Francisco Rivera in the first fight of the night, entered Saturday's card with two UFC victories under his belt and nearly earned a third when he rocked Rivera early in the contest.
Rivera survived the troublesome spot and rallied to score a TKO late in the second round. This was the first time that Figueroa had been finished in his career, and he will look to rebound against a lower tiered brawler like himself.
Enter Chico Camus.
After a decision victory in his promotional debut, Camus also entered the cage with momentum on his side. However, that came screeching to a halt when he was choked out by undefeated newcomer Dustin Kimura in the third round.
In the contest, Camus showed a low fight IQ in terms of his top game, making basic mistakes while in the guard of his black belt opponent. The most peculiar aspect of his choice to look for takedowns lies in the fact that his striking is better than that of Kimura.
Figueroa and Camus are both brawlers at heart who can put on an entertaining scrap were they to meet inside the Octagon.
Yves Edwards suffered an upset defeat against promotional newcomer Issac Vallie-Flagg on the FX prelims. Although the decision was not unanimous among the judges, there is little question that Vallie-Flagg unleashed the most damage in this fight and was deserving of the win.
As a respected veteran who stands in good favor with UFC president Dana White, this loss won't greatly affect his standing inside the Octagon.
A solid opponent for Edwards comes in the form of fellow-striker Melvin Guillard. The pair of hard-hitting lightweights were scheduled to meet at UFC Fight Night 23, however, Guillard was promoted to the main event after Kenny Florian suffered an injury.
While Guillard was once on the cusp of a UFC title shot, he has since dropped four of his last five contests. This fight would be do-or-die for "The Young Assassin."
Promotional newcomer Bobby Green was simply too much for wrestler Jacob Volkmann. Despite a dominant first round, Volkmann ended up on his back in the second round and expelled most of the gas in his tank.
Volkmann holds a 6-2 record in the UFC lightweight division, but both losses have occurred within his past three fights. In September, he was submitted by British grappler Paul Sass.
Based on his grinding style and recent losses, I would not be stunned to see the UFC send Volkmann packing. There isn't a lot of upside to the 32-year-old remaining on the roster, although his previous wins over the likes of Danny Castillo, Efrain Escudero and Shane Roller should be worth at least one more shot in the Octagon.
The best available matchup for Volkmann is Ultimate Fighter runner-up Michael Johnson. Johnson was upset by newcomer Myles Jury at UFC 155, and this matchup would give both men an opportunity to rebound against a quality opponent.
In an early candidate for Knockout of the Night, Strikeforce import Tyron Woodley wasted little time in putting Jay Hieron to sleep. Woodley knocked his opponent to the ground with a big right hand and threw a flurry of shots that separated Hieron from consciousness only 36 seconds into the fight.
Hieron is now 0-2 since returning to the UFC, and his lifetime record with the company is 0-4. It is doubtful that he will return to the UFC for another fight after such a decisive loss.
If the UFC does show mercy on the former Bellator title challenger, a matchup with Chris Clements would be more his speed.
Sporting some of the best wrestling in the UFC, Gleison Tibau was simply outworked by a younger and faster Evan Dunham in the featured contest of the FX preliminary card.
After going 3-0 in 2011, many had high hopes for Tibau. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he has dropped close decisions in two of his last three contests.
Tibau has fought in the UFC 18 times, and his 19th performance should come against none other than Canadian grappler Mark Bocek.
Bocek is coming off of a decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 154, but prior to that, he earned a pair of victories over John Alessio and Nik Lentz, which sent the latter fighter out of the division.
Despite looking solid when facing the best flyweights in the world, Uncle Creepy has still yet to record a single win inside the Octagon.
On Saturday night, McCall put up a commendable effort against two-time world title contender Joseph Benavidez, however came up short once again on the judges' scorecards.
This has got to be a crushing defeat for McCall, but there is no question that he is one of the best fighters on the planet. That being said, the man who he should sign on to face is John "The Magician" Dodson.
Dodson is a power-puncher who proved himself worthy of being in the UFC flyweight title picture last weekend, when he thrice knocked down reigning champion Demetrious Johnson.
Who would have guessed two years ago that decorated welterweight Jon Fitch would only win one of his next four fights?
On Saturday night, Fitch succeeded in proving that it is impossible to submit him. That's the good news. The bad news is that he did so in a fight where Demian Maia outgrappled him in dominant fashion for 15 minutes.
By far, this was the worst performance of Jon Fitch's UFC career, and it is sure to cause the MMA world to question his status as an elite fighter.
Fitch tumbles from his status as a world-class grappler with this fight and needs a win over a big-name opponent if the 34-year-old plans to mount one last run at a title run.
Hopefully, the UFC will pair Fitch with a respected name who is beatable, in hopes of saving the AKA fighter's image. For that reason, his next opponent should be none other than former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt.
Moreso than anyone on this list, Alistair Overeem deserves to be in the losers section. Knowing that he has a tremendous standup advantage, the former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 champion chose not to defend himself while striking, and he chose to stand directly in front of his opponent and commonly kept his hands at his waist.
Unfortunately for "The Demolition Man," opponent Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva hits like a freight train and made Overeem pay for his mistakes with a series of strikes that can best be described as cringe-worthy.
Overeem was one fight away from fighting for the UFC heavyweight championship, but now, he starts a long, slow road towards reclaiming his status.
The best choice for an opponent is former UFC champion Junior dos Santos. The two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 146, but Overeem's failed drug test removed him from the fight.
Fast forward seven months and you'll find both men coming off of a crushing loss that robbed them of any aura of invincibility that might have surrounded them.
A fight in early summer certainly wouldn't have the appeal that it did last year, but is unquestionably a contest between two of MMA's hardest-hitting punchers.
Did Rashad Evans lose a step? Is he simply not as motivated to be great as he once was? Regardless of the answer to these questions, no one would argue that the Rashad who showed up at UFC 156 is the same man who once held the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
In a surprisingly actionless fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Evans failed to secure the takedowns that he attempted and was outboxed en route to a 29-28 decision loss.
Nogueira was considered a big step down in competition for Rashad, who had spent the most recent years of his career with the likes of Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson and sensational prospect Phil Davis. For "Suga" to come up short in this fight, he falls down the ladder tremendously.
Possible fights for Rashad include Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua and Glover Teixeira, who are all members of the divisional Top 10 who have yet to tangle with The Ultimate Fighter winner.
There is no one in the world who can outclass Frankie Edgar inside the Octagon. Between his apparent inability to be finished inside the cage, along with his ability to turn up the volume even after four grueling rounds. "The Answer" can hang with any fighter on the planet.
Judges got the decision right by awarding Aldo with the victory, but Frankie worked his butt off to win the final two rounds in this fight.
Unfortunately, a close loss is still a loss no matter how you read the record book. Frankie knows this and truly sounded defeated as a man in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
When he returns to the Octagon, Edgar is a dual-division who has options on his side. Some feel that a potential rematch is in order. Personally, I feel that is a ridiculous notion considering that Edgar is on a three-fight losing streak and does not deserve a second title shot in a division where he has zero wins.
Instead, the former lightweight champion should be looking for exciting fights against big-name opponents. For that reason, the one fight that jumps out as Edgar's next would be against none other than Clay "The Carpenter" Guida.
Guida recently dropped down to 145 pounds, where he earned a controversial decision victory over highly-regarded Hatsu Hioki. A bout with Edgar is what Guida needs if he will finally get a crack at a UFC championship during his career.
Other options for Edgar opponents include The Korean Zombie and Ricardo Lamas. One of those fighters will most likely get a title shot. Whoever finds himself on the outside of that matchmaking equation is a worthy foe for Frankie.