UFC Fight Night 26 Results: What's Next for Main Card Losers
After quite a bit of trouble getting the UFC Fight Night 26 event finalized, the event went off without a hitch. The main card featured a number of highlights that gave fans a reason to erupt in cheers and some lowlights that gave fans a reason to head to the bathroom.
No doubt the biggest surprise of the night came in the main event as Chael Sonnen used a guillotine choke to force Mauricio "Shogun" Rua to tap out. Not to be outdone by the main event, Travis Browne secured Knockout of the Night honors by dropping former K-1 champion Alistair Overeem in the first round.
Also making a good case for KO of the Night was Matt Brown, as he dropped the tough Mike Pyle early in the first round of their contest. The knockout was a much needed boost of adrenaline for fans watching after seeing a disastrous showing from Uriah Hall and John Howard.
In the card's opening fight, Michael Johnson showed improved striking as he placed a one-sided beatdown on Joe Lauzon in Lauzon's back yard. The fight was so one sided one judge's scorecard read 30-25 in favor of Johnson.
As with any fight (well most of them at least) there are winners and losers. For the winners, the next move is usually upward while the losers are sent back to the drawing board.
Either Michael Johnson improved his game dramatically or Joe Lauzon had an off night. I'm going to go with both, as you can't take away from what Johnson was able to do but Lauzon clearly looked like a different fighter than we've seen before.
Whatever the case may be, Lauzon was outclassed in every facet of the fight by Johnson. The first round in particular was pretty brutal.
"J-Lau" is on a two-fight losing streak and under normal circumstances that would be cause for a fighter to be concerned about a pink slip showing up in the mail. The problem with Lazuon is that even though he's lost two-straight bouts, he remains very popular and can draw a crowd based on his exciting style.
The loser of the upcoming Abel Trujillo-Roger Bowling match up would make sense as long as Bowling doesn't get cut should he lose. If the UFC wants to put Lazuon in with another big name, then perhaps they'd match him with the loser of Jamie Varner vs. Gleison Tibau. Varner and Lauzon did engage in a thrilling fight in their initial meeting after all.
Uriah Hall's hype train officially came crashing off the rails at UFC Fight Night 26. Hall was facing a guy in John Howard that seemed tailor made for the TUF star to look good against. Howard was at a height/reach disadvantage and is a striker by trade; a seemingly good match up for Hall.
There were a few moments where Hall showcased the talent that made him such a heralded prospect but at the end of the day the TUF star is now on a two-fight losing streak. Any fighter with less hype would normally be on the chopping block after two lackluster showings.
Instead, Hall will likely get one more chance to succeed in the Octagon. Tom Watson is coming off an ugly loss and could make for a good stylistic match up for Hall. Also, Papy Abedi entered the UFC with much fanfare as a touted prospect but is just 1-2 in his UFC tenure. If the Swede loses to Dylan Andrews, a Hall-Abedi fight could be a make-or-break type of bout between prospects.
Mike Pyle spent the weeks leading up to UFC Fight Night 26 wondering why the UFC didn't have more faith in him. It seems their lack of faith was warranted.
Pyle, fighting in the biggest fight of his career and on the biggest stage, came up short and was downright embarrassed. Matt Brown waded in early and simply overwhelmed Pyle before knocking him out in just 29 seconds.
Now Pyle will likely head back to a preliminary card and attempt another surge towards the top. The loser of Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Pascal Krauss or the loser of Chris Clements vs. Stephen Thompson would seem to make sense.
Iuri Alcantara vs. Urijah Faber was expected to be a one-sided match up. Alcantara did his best early to make sure that wouldn't be the case as he slammed Faber to the mat and quickly took dominant position.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian, it would be virtually the only offense he could muster for the remaining time of the fight.
Alcantara proved he's a dangerous fighter for anyone at 135 pounds. As every MMA fan will tell you, Faber simply doesn't lose non-title affairs. The Brazilian couldn't handle Faber's wrestling but certainly proved he belongs in the Octagon with upper-level talent.
Matching him with Brad Pickett could provide an interesting scrap down the road.
I'm still not sure what happened in the Alistair Overeem-Travis Browne contest. Overeem seemed well on his way to a decisive victory after dropping Browne with some vicious knees to the body. He unleashed a flurry of punches that very easily could've stopped the fight but Browne was able to survive.
Browne went into survival mode, throwing front kicks in an effort to keep Overeem at bay. As Overeem came in, Browne threw another kick, it landed flush and dropped the former K-1 champion.
Overeem's fall backwards onto the canvas was symbolic of his fall from grace in MMA. Already a polarizing figure prior to his UFC tenure, Overeem's good will among fans was seemingly non existent after his showing against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.
A fight with Frank Mir would be a good stylistic match up as Mir has no issues with staying on the feet and likely doesn't have good enough takedowns to take the fight to the mat. A make-or-break fight with Ben Rothwell or Brandon Vera would seem to make sense if the UFC wants Overeem in a situation with less pressure for his next outing.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was still clinging to a top-10 ranking despite clearly not being the same fighter he once was. Multiple knee surgeries and the wars he's been in have taken a toll on the Brazilian despite being only 31 years old.
Losing to Chael Sonnen by decision is one thing; many expected that to be the way Rua would lose anyways. But losing to Sonnen via submission is entirely different.
"Shogun" will likely fall down the rankings and the UFC has a tough task ahead of them. On one hand Rua is not only one of the most popular fighters in the division, but also in all of MMA. On the other hand, Rua is clearly a fighter that can't hang with the upper-tier fighters.
He can still draw a crowd due to his popularity but he'll likely have to fight someone who doesn't have similar drawing power. A fight with Ryan Bader (should he lose to Glover Teixeira) would make sense in terms of gaining viewers/pay-per-view buys.
I know a rematch with Dan Henderson may not have as much interest now but it would be an easy sell for the UFC marketing department and could provide a boost to either man's faltering career at this point.