UFC 168: What's Next for the Losers?
UFC 168 is done, and with that, we find 11 fighters now coming off a loss.
Some lost big, some lost small, but all of them need something to do.
So what is next for Anderson Silva, Miesha Tate and the rest of the fighters who didn't have a great time Saturday night? Who will they fight next? Will they fight again at all?
Find out right here!
Bobby Voelker, Estevan Payan
Between Daniel Cormier, Josh Thomson, Tyron Woodley and the like, many sweepingly assumed that everyone in the UFC who got brought in from Strikeforce has been doing just great.
Bobby Voelker and Estevan Payan, though, are not doing great.
While the two combined for a 6-1 record in Strikeforce, they are a combined 0-5 in the UFC.
With both of them over 30 years old and getting badly beaten by less-than-elite opponents, it is unlikely they are going to stick around with the UFC. Expect to see Voelker on the regional circuit and Payan to possibly join him as well.
Losing to Dong-Hyun Kim is one thing. Kim is a physically monstrous, terribly underrated grinder.
John Howard, though? Howard is undeniably skilled, but there is no way a legitimately UFC-caliber fighter gets outgrappled by him the way Siyar Bahadurzada did last night. Bahadurzada has amazing striking. That said, you just can't get by in MMA with such a complete lack of a ground game.
We'll likely see him fight in the UFC again. The UFC loves strikers, and Bahadurzada's heritage makes him a valuable commodity for Zuffa if they choose to start sniffing around the Middle East for a new market.
Look for him to fight a UFC newcomer or another fighter coming off a loss like Anthony Lapsley or Pascal Krauss.
Manny Gamburyan came up short against the massive featherweight Dennis Siver, but he still put on a strong showing, demonstrating his savvy in both the grappling and striking department.
"The Anvil" is a savvy veteran compared to much of the featherweight roster and is a legitimate threat to basically anybody outside the top five. That makes him either a good rebound match for an elite featherweight or a good gatekeeper for a rising star.
For the former category, Nik Lentz is absolutely perfect. In the latter group, should the UFC give Diego Brandao a mulligan on the massive misfire on the scale and give him another shot to jump up the rankings, he would be a strong choice.
After more than 20 career UFC fights, it seemed like Tibau had a chance, albeit slim, of making a title run. Michael Johnson, though, knocked those hopes (and the rest of Tibau) out cold.
Because of that, Tibau returns to his usual station of the mid-tier gatekeeper for the lightweight division. His hulking physique and formidable Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills make him a valuable commodity for weeding out fighters en route to the top 10.
Fighters of that ilk include Norman Parke, Tony Ferguson and Michael Chiesa.
Retirement seems to be the foregone conclusion when it comes to Chris Leben.
As soon as Uriah Hall started working his magic on him, Leben's demeanor changed from mildly grumpy to utterly checked out. Leben, simply, didn't want to be there after Hall started working him over.
It's absolutely for the best. Leben's brawling fighting style is particularly trying for the human body (which is unnecessary, given his deceptively solid jiu-jitsu). The fact that he has lasted this long, quite frankly, is a testament to his toughness.
That gives his decision to call off the fight a great deal of weight.
Here's hoping he hangs 'em up and gets into coaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu full-time.
If Diego Brandao wasn't the first-ever Brazilian winner of The Ultimate Fighter, it's very possible he would've been shot out of the UFC through a cannon. He isn't, though, and that means he'll be getting another chance.
Nobody really knows why he missed weight so badly (Dana White alluded to personal problems at the post-fight press conference). Either way, it doesn't factor too much into picking his next opponent.
Brandao was given a chance to vault into the featherweight top-10. It went very poorly. As stated, though, he is a fighter the UFC wants to succeed, and they will give him a fight with a beatable veteran. Mike Brown and Charles Oliveira both make sense.
Did anybody think Fabricio Camoes vs. Jim Miller would end any other way?
Camoes is solid, but matching him against Jim Miller was utterly foolhardy. I have no clue what Joe Silva was thinking (which is a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common these days).
Anyway, there are plenty of solid mid-tier lightweights to match Camoes against on the preliminary card of a Fight Night event. KJ Noons, Colton Smith, Ramsey Nijem, Cody McKenzie...I could keep going.
So that was a fairly surprising turn.
Josh Barnett is a savvy, steely veteran with as many skills and as much experience as anybody in MMA today. This was his first real knockout loss since getting punched out by Pedro Rizzo in 2001 at UFC 30.
This loss, and this kind of loss, puts him into a somewhat awkward position.
In a division with a deep divide between the legitimate title contenders and everyone else, Barnett's place in the division is now hard to peg. There are plenty of fights to figure out where he lies, though.
A rematch with Mark Hunt, or a bout with Roy Nelson, would both make sense and would be incredibly fun.
It was a tough go for Miesha Tate. As we've seen with Chael Sonnen, Benson Henderson and Junior dos Santos, two losses to the same champion makes it nearly impossible to get a third chance at the belt, no matter how intense or profitable your rivalry is. That knocks her out of title contention until Ronda Rousey hangs them up or loses the belt.
The thing is, her rivalry with Rousey has made her one of the most popular female fighters in the sport and because of that, the UFC would prefer to keep her around and as such will avoid putting her in a position where she could go on a three-fight losing streak.
That in mind, the best opponent for her would be Germaine de Randamie. De Randamie is a formidable striker but lacks an especially potent ground game. This would make Tate a strong favorite and could give her a much-needed stoppage victory.
Other options would be a UFC newcomer like Aleksandra Albu or a relatively inexperienced fighter like Bethe Correia.
I really hope retirement is in his future. I really do.
He has nothing to prove and little to gain should he choose to get back into the MMA game.
If he does, though, he will likely land a "big" fight should he return. What will constitute a "big" fight right now is impossible to gauge. The most likely candidates would be Vitor Belfort (if he loses to Chris Weidman) or Chael Sonnen. If not, then Cung Le, Nick Diaz, Michael Bisping...all of them are definitely possible.
It's also possible he'll get back to chasing that boxing match with Roy Jones Jr. or make a run at the Brazilian Olympic Taekwondo team.