Rashad Evans returned to the win column at UFC 161, beating Dan Henderson in a close decision to avoid what could have been a third consecutive loss.
Despite the victory, Evans once again did not look like the fighter who went on an undefeated run to claim the light heavyweight championship. He was more aggressive than in his prior bout with Antonio Rogero Nogueira, but he did not mount a ton of offense and looked like a fighter who is aging quickly.
Speaking of fighters starting to look old, Henderson has now lost two straight fights and will turn 43 in only two months. He doesn't appear ready to call it quits soon, but his title hopes are quickly becoming fantasy.
With another UFC event in the books, it time to look at who could be next for Evans, Henderson and the entire UFC 161 fight card.
Yves Jabouin bounced back from a knockout loss to Brad Pickett on Saturday, but he needed some help from the judges.
While Jabouin spent much of his UFC 161 fight in the top position, he was constantly defending submission attempts from Dustin Pague. Still, competing in his home country of Canada, Jabouin was given an edge on the scorecards.
Because his victory was controversial, Jabouin probably won't be getting a step up in competition. A bout with the winner of a UFC on Fox 8 matchup between John Albert and Yaotzin Meza seems more likely.
After losing his first two UFC fights, Mitch Clarke likely avoided being cut with a decision win over former welterweight John Maguire. Clarke wasn't dominant, but he did enough to earn an advantage on all three scorecards.
As a result, Maguire suffered his third straight loss against an opponent who was previously winless inside the Octagon. It seems likely that the Englishman will now be released from the world's top MMA promotion.
Clarke, meanwhile, will now have a chance to work his way up the lightweight ladder. He's still near the bottom, though, so a bout with the winner of a UFC on Fox 8 matchup between Aaron Riley and Justin Salas.
Edwin Figueroa and Dustin Pague both came out on the wrong end of close decisions on Saturday and are now in danger of being released.
Figueroa out-struck opponent Roland Delorme, but he was taken down six times in his three-round bout, which clearly made the difference in the judges' eyes. Likewise, Pague spent too much time on bottom, despite threatening with submissions constantly.
Since Figueroa and Pague are both on losing streaks, they could meet each other in the near future with their UFC roster spots on the line.
With his decision victory over Edwin Figueroa at UFC 161, Roland Delorme has quietly put together three straight wins.
Delorme's grappling made the difference in a competitive fight that saw the winner absorb more strikes than he dished out. Still, all three judges sided with Delorme on Saturday.
In his next outing, Delorme could meet fellow TUF 14 participant Bryan Caraway. The two competed in different division on the reality series, but they now both find themselves in the 135-pound division.
Kenny Robertson out-landed and out-wrestled Sean Pierson at UFC 161, but he saw a controversial decision go the other way in the end.
One judge did score the bout a draw. However, Pierson was favored on the two remaining scorecards, which left Robertson looking at a majority decision loss.
Robertson's wrestling style could make him an intriguing matchup for Amir Sadollah, who is more dangerous off of his back than Pierson.
Sean Pierson may have been lucky to walk away with a win on Saturday, but he did, and he's now riding a three-fight winning streak.
While Pierson had some success landing more damaging shots that Kenny Robertson when standing, he spent a good amount of time on the ground and was controlled for almost the entirety of the third round. Nonetheless, Pierson wound up with the edge on the scorecards.
He'll almost certainly fight an opponent coming off of a win in his next outing, but don't expect Pierson to earn a big step up in competition as a result of his performance against Robertson. A bout with the winner of a UFC 162 matchup between Seth Baczynski and Brian Melancon could make sense.
Sam Stout suffered a loss in front of his fellow Canadians on Saturday, but he earned a sixth Fight of the Night bonus as a result of his exciting showing.
Considered more of a striker than a grappler, Stout paid a price in looking for a late takedown in an effort to gain an edge on the scorecards. With on seconds remaining in the bout, he was caught in a guillotine choke and tapped before the judges could have their say.
Anytime he fights an opponent who is willing to box with him, Stout is almost guaranteed to win Fight of the Night honors. That's why Stout's next fight should be against former professional boxer K.J. Noons, who recently lost in his UFC debut against Donald Cerrone.
WEC veteran James Krause made a statement in his UFC debut and looks like a fighter who could have a place in the promotion's lightweight division for a long time.
Near the end of a closely contested bout, Krause secured a guillotine choke and earned a submission win. For his efforts, he was given Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night bonuses.
With a win over a veteran like Sam Stout, Krause showed he's ready to compete against notable lightweights right away. Since he's trying to slowly work his way back toward the top-10 rankings, Gleison Tibau would provide a good test for Krause.
After a knockout win over Jay Hieron in his UFC debut, Tyron Woodley was looking to land one big shot against Jake Shields on Saturday.
Without enough offensive output, Woodley ended up falling short on the scorecards. He completely shut down Shields' wrestling, but he was still out-struck by the former Strikeforce champion because he was headhunting.
It's not likely that Woodley will take a big step backwards as a result of this uneventful loss, though. A bout with the loser of a UFC on Fox 8 matchup between Robbie Lawler and Siyar Bahadurzada could keep Woodley within striking distance of the top-10 rankings.
In his return to the welterweight division, Jake Shields picked up an important win over a fringe contender in Tyron Woodley.
Shields was denied on countless takedown attempts, but he threw more than twice as many strikes as Woodley over three rounds. That volume ended up being the difference on the scorecards, as Shields handed Woodley his first UFC loss.
While a win over Woodley is big, Shields probably isn't going to see a top-10 welterweight as a result of his lackluster performance.
Instead, he could test a rising prospect like Gunnar Nelson. The Iceland native appears to have the potential to be a 170-pound contender and would be able to make a grappling match with Shields entertaining.
With his loss at UFC 161, Pat Barry has alternated wins and losses over his past five fights.
Though many figured he'd have a significant advantage in the stand-up department, he was quickly overwhelmed with the power of Shawn Jordan's punches.
Multiple fighters Barry has lost to have been removed from the UFC roster, so the former kickboxer really needs to get things turned around in order to solidify himself as a UFC heavyweight. A bout with the loser of a UFC on Fox 8 matchup between Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione could be just what he needs.
Shawn Jordan made a big statement by knocking out Pat Barry on Saturday.
With his early finish of the dangerous striker, Jordan has won in three of his four UFC appearances.
His mix of power and athleticism makes him a really tough opponent for a lot of heavyweights. A bout with another physically gifted heavyweight like Todd Duffee would be interesting for Jordan's next outing.
Rosi Sexton came into UFC 161 as a significant underdog, but she made things interesting and took Alexis Davis to a fairly close decision.
While she still ended up on the wrong end of the scorecards, Sexton showed she may have a bright future in the women's bantamweight division.
Assuming she loses to former title challenger Liz Carmouche at UFC on Fox 8, UFC newcomer Jessica Andrade would be a good opponent for Sexton's second Octagon appearance.
Alexis Davis picked up a win in her UFC debut, but she didn't leave anyone thinking of her as a serious threat to women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
Still, in the UFC's shallow female class, Davis is one of the top contenders.
A bout with Liz Carmouche, should she beat Jessica Andrade at UFC on Fox 8, would give Davis an opportunity to put herself in position for a shot at a UFC championship.
Following his loss to Ryan Jimmo on Saturday, Igor Pokrajac is still without a win since his controversial decision victory over Fabio Maldonado in May 2012.
Against Jimmo, Pokrajac found himself neutralized by the Canadian's clinch work. Over 15 minutes, he landed only 12 significant strikes.
While he's on a skid, Pokrajac has only officially lost twice in a row. If he's going to get another chance, a loser-leaves-town bout with Ilir Latifi would fit well on a European fight card.
Ryan Jimmo reverted to his pre-UFC fighting style on Saturday, grinding out a decision win over Igor Pokrajac to get back into the win column.
The Canadian light heavyweight did land some big shots at points in the fight, but Jimmo mainly gained an edge on the scorecards by clinching and controlling the center of the Octagon.
If that's the game Jimmo plans to play going forward, the UFC should match him up with a more accomplished wrestler. A bout with Matt Hamill should force Jimmo into a more aggressive approach.
Roy Nelson saw a three-fighting winning streak come to an end at UFC 161, where he was upset by Stipe Miocic in a poor showing.
Not long into the fight that he took on short notice, Nelson was huffing and puffing. The veteran continually looked to land right overhands and right uppercuts while being blasted with Miocic's quicker and straighter punches.
A lot of people seem to want to see Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt lumber around the Octagon throwing haymakers. Hunt deserves better after his performance against Junior dos Santos, though.
Let's see Nelson take a step down and meet the loser of a UFC 164 matchup between Ben Rothwell and Brandon Vera. That could end up meaning a rematch of an IFL bout with Rothwell that ended in a controversial decision, which went against Nelson.
Stipe Miocic picked up the biggest win over his MMA career on Saturday. Although much of the focus was on Roy Nelson not performing, Miocic did impress with his boxing.
While he now arguably belongs in the top-10 rankings, he isn't far removed from a loss to Stefan Struve. With that in mind, he probably isn't going to see a top-five opponent, despite comfortably beating Nelson at UFC 161.
A bout with the winner of a UFC 164 matchup between Frank Mir and Josh Barnett could help boost Miocic to that next level, though. As the winner of that fight would still be a couple wins away from a title shot, it'd be smart of UFC matchmakers to give Miocic a chance to build his name by beating one of the former UFC champions.
UFC 161 resulted in another narrow decision for Dan Henderson. That's three in a row for the former Pride FC champion, and the past two have been in deflating losses.
At 42 years old, Henderson has to be closing in on retirement. But it's still hard to consider him less than a top-10 light heavyweight right now. Losing to Rashad Evans has to bump Henderson down the ladder, but he still deserves a fight with a big name.
Henderson could meet the loser of a UFC on Fox Sports 1 matchup between Mauricio Rua and Chael Sonnen. Because who wouldn't want to see a rematch between Henderson and Rua? And I'm not so sure Henderson and Sonnen would be absolutely opposed to competing against one another, despite their long-standing relationship.
Rashad Evans is in a weird spot after beating Dan Henderson on Saturday.
While he's coming off of a win over one of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division, he had just lost to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and is only a couple fights removed from a loss to 205-pound champion Jon Jones. So Evans almost seems close to a title shot, despite being so far away.
In other words, Evans just needs to keep beating some big names until he is once again considered a serious contender. A bout with the winner of the UFC on Fox Sports 1 main event between Mauricio Rua and Chael Sonnen should give him another chance to take a step in the right direction.