MMA Stock Report for June: Who Rose, Who Fell, Who Stayed the Same
For the second consecutive month, the UFC delivered just two events, but plenty happened in the last 30 days, and we have the full MMA stock report for the month of June.
Then, the second event of the month, UFC 161, featured a stoppage drought as just two fights did not require the judges' scorecards. Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson headlined the pay-per-view card, with the former taking home a split-decision win.
While the second event of the month was lackluster, there were still plenty of fighters to rise and fall during the last 30 days, while others simply watched their statuses remain unchanged.
Check out the MMA stock report for June.
Stock Up: Free UFC Events
Bellator Fighting Championships will attempt to lure you in on the pretense that their cards—all free and live on Spike TV—are a better deal than the UFC pay-per-view angle, even if the fighters are lesser-known and far from UFC grade.
But events like UFC on Fuel 10 are the kind that should have Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and Co. worried about just how high (or, more realistically, low) their glass ceiling is.
The first of two UFC events in June was an absolute hit, not to mention free, featuring a whopping 10 stoppages out of the 12 scheduled fights. And the Brazilian fans who saw the card live got more than their money's worth.
Compare the Fuel 10 card with the second event of the month, UFC 161, and fans must be wondering which card really should've elicited a $50 charge for entry.
The UFC has been very good about putting together quality cards on Fox, Fuel and FX, with each successful event serving as further proof that the UFC does it better than anybody else.
Check out this comparison between free UFC events and PPV's in terms of stoppage rate
Stock Up: Thiago Silva
11-fight UFC veteran Thiago Silva entered UFC on Fuel 10 the 2:1 underdog against Strikeforce import Rafael Cavalcante. That line was dead wrong.
Silva, a powerful striker, patiently weathered the early activity of Cavalcante. As his opponent tired, Silva turned up the intensity, finally battering "Feijao" up against the cage en route to a knockout win.
The win was Silva's first in almost four years—you read that correctly.
In his last four fights, Silva has lost twice and seen two wins changed to no-contest. Nowhe's on track to make a run back into the division's top 10. He's talented enough to own a spot on that list, and his only losses in the UFC have come against Alexander Gustafsson, Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida.
For all his troubles recently, the UFC kept him around, and that should say a lot. Big things are ahead for Silva if he keeps clean and avoids injuries; two things he struggled to do between 2010 and 2012.
Stock Steady: Fabricio Werdum
Not long after Silva's knockout win over Cavalcante, another pair of Brazilians entered the cage for the main event.
And Fabricio Werdum did what he needed to do to keep his run toward the heavyweight title alive, putting away the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via submission.
Problem is, a win over Nogueira doesn't exactly mean that much nowadays.
Werdum is currently going through a career resurgence; he hasn't reinvented himself, but he's the best he's ever been, and the recent win keeps him right in the mix for a shot at gold.
Since rejoining the UFC, Werdum is 3-0 with wins over Roy Nelson, Mike Russow and Nogueira. Junior dos Santos is currently up to bat against heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, but Werdum could be the guy on deck.
Of course, a win over a legitimate top-five heavyweight would send his stock skyrocketing. But, for now, he finds himself in contention, which is right where he was before the win over an aging Nogueira.
Stock Down: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Rafael Cavalcante
For every fighter on the rise, there's a fighter on the opposite path.
At UFC on Fuel 10, Silva and Werdum sent their opponents in the wrong direction with stoppage victories.
Silva's victim, Cavalcante, is now 0-1 in the UFC, and the former Strikeforce champion hasn't earned a victory since 2011. He's well on the outside of the UFC's top-10 light heavyweights and could be in a must-win situation in his next fight.
That may be a stretch, but with just one win in the last three years, it's not totally implausible.
Nogueira has a much larger safety net. The heavyweight legend has a lengthy track record of success, remaining competitive against most of the UFC roster. Unfortunately, "Big Nog" doesn't have what it takes to topple the elite heavyweights anymore, and UFC on Fuel 10 was just another example of that. Still, he's 3-3 in his last six, and, as long as he stays healthy, he should be able to compete for a year or two more.
His stock is down, but he's not out—not yet.
Stock Up: Leonardo Santos
Leonardo Santos was given new life in the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, serving as a replacement in the finals against William Macario.
He took full advantage and, at 33 years of age, it could not have come at a better time.
Santos now finds himself with a UFC contract following his submission win at UFC on Fuel 10, and he's in a position to rise in the welterweight division. He couldn't have asked for a better opportunity given the point he is at in his career.
Still, the win isn't enough to catapult him into contention, but there's no denying it was the biggest win of his career, which began way back in 2002. He's on the rise, even if he has a very long way to go.
Stock Up: Erick Silva, Raphael Assuncao
Raphael Assuncao and Erick Silva are paired for one reason: both are somewhat quietly becoming threats in their respective divisions.
Silva has two losses in his UFC career, dropping a decision to Jon Fitch at UFC 153 and losing to Carlo Prater at UFC 142 via disqualification. But he's the division's most-prized prospects, and the one guy outside of the top 10 who, at the moment, seems poised to make a run at gold someday.
At UFC on Fuel 10, Silva topped Jason High with ease, earning a quick submission win. He's one win from the welterweight top 10, and, given his propensity to go for the stoppage, Silva's on the way up, and fast.
He's not the 170-pounder any contender wants to fight right now.
Meanwhile, Assuncao's rise up the bantamweight division has been a far more quiet one. He's 4-0 at the 135-pound mark after his win at UFC on Fuel 10 over Vaughan Lee. And his previous win, a unanimous decision over Mike Easton, has him moving in on a title shot.
The Brazilian is currently the No. 6 bantamweight contender, but a win over any of the top five guys would be enough to get him in range for a shot at champion Dominick Cruz or interim champion Renan Barao.
Two more wins and he's there.
Stock Down: UFC Pay-Per-Views
The sport of MMA is at a time where there are a lot of pay-per-view events, a lot of free cards and plenty of fans who are questioning where their money is going.
UFC 161 wasn't the kind of event that leaves fans without at least a slight sense of buyer's remorse.
The card featured two stoppages, which doesn't immediately mean a card is a failure. But the other nine bouts didn't do enough to salvage the card—Sam Stout vs. James Krause was the only exception.
Of course, Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley didn't do the UFC brass any favors. The pair put on a lackluster performance in the final preliminary fight on FX and, if anything, convinced fans not to purchase the PPV.
And a main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans, which was scheduled for only three rounds, could've used another 10 minutes of fight time.
Fortunately, UFC 162 is right around the corner, and a headliner between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman (hopefully) will erase the memory of UFC 161.
Stock Up: Rashad Evans
Rashad Evans may not have earned a dominant win over Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 161, but his stock is still on the rise.
Prior to the split-decision win over "Hendo", Evans lost back-to-back fights against champion Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the latter being somewhat baffling. A loss last month would have been his third in a row, and, at that point, it's hard to believe Evans would ever make his way back into contention again.
Now, he's probably two wins away from once again being considered for a title shot.
The former light heavyweight champion is still a ways away from regaining his former status, especially now that the division features the most dominant 205-pound champion in UFC history, along with a deep list of contenders, including Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson and Lyoto Machida.
Stock Down: Dan Henderson
It's hard to say Henderson's stock is down after such a close loss to a light heavyweight contender, but just think about where he was less than a year ago: Last September he was set to challenge Jon Jones for the title before an injury forced the former Strikeforce champion out of the contest.
Now, two fights later, Henderson has seen two close split decisions go the other way, losing to Evans and Lyoto Machida. It seems that a title shot in the UFC is a highly unlikely at this point, considering his age—Henderson turns 43 in August—and the depth of the division.
He's still competitive, but Henderson is not making any moves upwards in the division nowadays. He's a legend, like the aforementioned Nogueira is, but he probably will never compete for a major title again.
Fortunately, "Hendo" owns a spot in the top 10 and is a strong asset for the UFC. He'll have an opportunity to right the ship soon, and probably against another strong 205-pound fighter.
Furthermore, one could argue he topped Evans, as one judge seemed to believe. We're not ready to say his stock is plummeting just yet, but he needs a big win to gain some momentum.
Stock Steady: Alexis Davis, Ryan Jimmo
Alexis Davis and Ryan Jimmo were featured on the main card as heavy favorites, but neither lived up to expectations.
Davis, who is believed to be a threat to women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, failed to put away Rosi Sexton in their three-round contest, something she was expected to accomplish. Instead, she earned a unanimous decision win.
That may not seem so bad, but her next step is taking on the division's elite, and nothing at UFC 161 should've convinced the masses that she's ready for Rousey.
Meanwhile, Ryan Jimmo continues to fall short of the lofty expectations set before him following his seven-second knockout in his UFC debut last July.
He outpointed Igor Pokrajac after three rounds of "action," earning a unanimous decision. But he, himself, admitted after the fight that it was a disappointment, stating that he basically just wanted to get back in the win column.
That's not the mentality necessary to make a move up in the division, and it's precisely why Jimmo remains outside the light heavyweight top 10.
Stock Up: Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic was a heavy underdog heading into his co-main event fight against Roy Nelson at UFC 161, but he turned a lot of heads with his unanimous decision victory over "Big Country."
Nelson accepted the fight on short notice after the card fell victim to the injury bug, and seemed to be less interested in scoring points and more interested on landing his big right hand.
Miocic made him pay for his tunnel vision, effortlessly avoiding the strikes of the favorite, while utilizing his range to pick apart the former TUF winner.
With the biggest win of his career under his belt, Miocic is quickly on the rise, earning a spot in the division's top 10. His lone professional loss—a knockout loss to Stefan Struve—may cause some to hedge their bets against Miocic, but the prospect has the tools and athleticism to keep this hype train rolling.
Stock Down: Roy Nelson
Roy Nelson entered into UFC 161 with one fight left on his contract, meaning his fight against Miocic was simply not the fight to lose.
But he did, and now an air of uncertainty surrounds "Big Country."
Heading into free agency, Nelson's stock is down. The loss to Miocic proved that there was a way to avoid the knockout against Nelson, while displaying that he probably will never be a top guy in the division.
That should affect his pay-rate, as it seems fairly apparent that he is never going to be a heavyweight contender. Still, he's entertaining, but heading into negotiations, the UFC execs will still have his most recent performance fresh in their memories.
Again, wrong fight for Nelson to lose.
Stock Down: Tyron Woodley, John Maguire
Tyron Woodley burst onto the UFC scene with a vicious knockout over Jay Hieron back in February, but former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields denied his opponent further advancement.
Shields smothered Woodley throughout most of their 15-minute fight, pressing him against the cage and looking for takedowns.
While Shields failed on the vast majority of takedown attempts, he did manage to avoid the power of his heavily favored opponent en route to a strange split-decision victory.
Woodley now is 1-1 in the UFC, but he's yet to face or defeat a top-10 guy. To add to his troubles, he seemed distracted or disinterested throughout his UFC 161 contest, allowing Shields to dictate at every turn.
The former Strikeforce top contender is heading in the wrong direction.
Fortunately, he will likely stick around the UFC. John Maguire? Now that's a different story.
Maguire has lost three straight fights and could soon find himself looking for work elsewhere. At UFC 161, he was upset in his lightweight debut by Mitch Clarke, pushing his UFC record to a less-than-ideal 2-3.
If he gets another fight under the Zuffa banner, he'll need to win it. Right now, that seems like a long shot, however.
Stock Up: James Krause
Finishing Sam Stout is no easy task, but, in his UFC debut, James Krause managed to do it and may have avoided a controversial decision in the process.
In front of the Winnipeg crowd, the Canadian Stout struggled early. But, as the fight progressed, Stout's experience seemed to take over, and, as the third round wore on, the momentum switched in his favor.
From most viewpoints, Krause was still on track to win, but Stout being dealt a hometown decision was not totally unlikely.
The UFC rookie took care of that, locking on a submission with just moments to go, forcing a tap. The stoppage loss was Stout's second in his past 13 UFC fights.
Krause has now won eight straight, and his length makes him an interesting prospect at 155 pounds. He's headed in the right direction.