UFC 172 featured several ranked fighters looking to make a statement in Baltimore. Though many came through, they failed to put themselves in a position to throw their name in the hat for a potential title shot.
Jessamyn Duke took on Bethe Correia in the women's bantamweight division. Duke has long been a heralded prospect in the division, and following her stint on The Ultimate Fighter now trains full time with Ronda Rousey. It has not rubbed off.
Correia won all three rounds and moved herself up the ladder while Duke fell off the map.
Top-tier flyweights Joseph Benavidez and Tim Elliot did battle, and following a hot start Elliot ended up getting choked out by Benavidez. It was a quality submission with Elliot having to tap out using his feet, but the win did little for Benavidez. After suffering a KO loss to champion Demetrious Johnson he will still need multiple wins before becoming a contender.
Jim Miller also won his bout by submission. He took care of Yancy Medeiros in less than a round via a guillotine. It is a win that would typically move Miller back up the ladder, but lightweight is currently a mess.
Also a mess? The UFC's middleweight division. Luke Rockhold dominated his fight with Tim Boetsch, but he will not be challenging for the title belt in the near future.
Both the lightweight and middleweight divisions are packed with talent and challengers. Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and top challenger Gilbert Melendez will coach The Ultimate Fighter later this year, putting the belt on hold until after the show ends.
Chris Weidman defends his Middleweight title against Lyoto Machida this summer, and the UFC has Vitor Belfort tapped as the next challenger after that.
Light heavyweight is not much different.
Jon Jones retained his championship over Glover Teixeira, and his next challenger will be Alexander Gustafsson. Additionally, UFC President Dana White has already guaranteed a title shot to the winner of Dan Henderson vs. Daniel Cormier.
Phil Davis had a chance to put himself on the map with a good showing against the returning Anthony Johnson, but it was Johnson who came through with flying colors.
There were fantastic performances at UFC 172, but no one stood out in a way that made themselves a contender—they all still have work to do.
For fans, it is a great problem to have. Top-level fighters are lined up to challenge for titles in several divisions. There are a plethora of interesting matchups awaiting the UFC's list of champions. However, for the fighters it is a tough road to hoe.
In years past, performances like the ones we saw at UFC 172 would put those fighters in title contention, but the game has changed. Quality performances no longer guarantee bigger fights. They only help in making their performances more memorable.
In today's UFC of fight cards happening nearly every week, fights are quickly forgotten about.
Benavidez, Miller, Rockhold and Johnson all provided fantastic performances in Baltimore. But all four still have plenty of work left to do before earning a shot at their respective division's championships.
Their work at UFC 172 will not soon be forgotten, but it did not make any of them an immediate title contender.
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