The road to a UFC championship is paved with impressive wins. At UFC on Fox 7, several fighters took big steps in the direction of the ultimate prize with the kind of performances that catch the eyes of fans and UFC brass alike.
Along with a razor-thin decision victory for reigning UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, the UFC broadcast four fights on FOX with a full undercard on FX and Facebook. In all, 12 fighters got their hands raised.
These are the three who enjoyed the biggest statement wins of the night.
Ignore the overall record of Matt Brown (17-11). He's beginning to make some serious waves in the welterweight division.
"The Immortal" came into his UFC on Fox 7 fight against Jordan Mein as a sizable underdog. Despite a four-fight winning streak, public opinion predicted that the fast-rising Mein would be too big a step up in competition for Brown to handle.
Brown not only showed that he shouldn't be counted out, but he also did so in convincing fashion. His turned this fight into an absolute brawl and earned fight of the night honors for his second-round stoppage.
Josh Thomson threw himself a nice welcome back party in his return to the Octagon. Despite his slight underdog status, he landed a beautiful TKO victory over Nate Diaz in the second round.
Thomson is a relatively unknown name among more casual UFC fans. He had not fought in the organization since 2004 and was a short-lived Strikeforce champion.
After his finish of Nate Diaz in devastating fashion, everyone should know his name. Thomson showed that he's more than ready to mix it up with the better fighters at 155 pounds and should have no issues getting right into the title picture after that display of violence.
Knockout of the night honors on a card that had eight stoppages in 12 fights isn't bad either.
Any time a fighter from an outside organization is hyped as the next big thing, his debut usually winds up being a little disappointing.
Whether it's extra jitters from debuting in the biggest promotion in the world or a step up in competition they just aren't ready for, we've seen plenty of big names fall flat in their long-awaited debuts. Cormier is not one of those fighters.
Cormier didn't look the least bit intimidated taking on a respected veteran like Frank Mir. He immediately utilized his strength and hand speed to pepper his opponent with shots in close range and practice his dirty boxing to slow the fight to his pace.
He couldn't quite get the finish. but Cormier dominated the fight from bell to bell. It was as impressive a debut as he could have hoped for. He put the whole division on notice with this win.