UFC 110: "From Prospect to Contender"

Greg ParfittCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2010

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 21: UFC fighter Ryan Bader celebrates winning against UFC fighter Keith Jardine after their Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight fight at Acer Arena on February 21, 2010 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)
Mark Nolan/Getty Images

With UFC 110 now in the books the adrenaline, shock, and flip reactions to the events in Australia should have calmed down significantly.

The UFC's debut 'Down Under,' on the face of it, appeared to be a great success and it would seem that yet another market has been added to the annual tour of UFC events. The Aussie crowd were pumped and the fighters certainly delivered great fights.

The biggest news that will be reported from UFC 110 will be the rise of Cain Valasquez, as the young Heavyweight prospect confirmed he is a legitimate title contender with his destruction of Antonio Nogueira. Wanderlei Silva finally got a win inside the octagon in the co-main event in what was a very close fight, despite the judges' unanimous decision.

Finally, Mirko Cro Cop, despite winning, showed that he will never again be the threat he was three years ago in Pride.

However, despite these results, two fighters who went "from prospect to contender" at UFC 110 should be viewed as the more interesting stories to come from the event.

Ryan Bader and George Sotiropoulos both had the performances of their respective careers at UFC 110 and really moved themselves from the 'prospect list' and firmly onto the 'contender list.'

Ryan Bader, with his win over Keith Jardine, progressed to 11-0 in his career. He is a prospect that, for whatever reason, people don't seem to talk about. With guys like Jon Jones taking more of the attention, Bader has quietly gone about the business of becoming a complete mixed martial artist. 

He has shown steady progress with his game since winning Season Eight of TUF and really looks to have all the tools to succeed in the 205lbs division. Much like Cain Valasquez, he has been very well managed by his team and UFC match maker Joe Silva as he has faced tougher competition in each of his fights. 

His victory on Saturday night over Jardine has given him his first victory over a fighter who carries a 'name' in the MMA world, which counts for a lot. So the questions now are where do you place Bader in the division, and who is next?

With nearly all the top-ranked fighters lined up, there are not many instant options available. The only fighter who carries a name and who is ranked higher then Bader would be Thiago Silva. That would be a big step up in competition. A better and wiser selection for Bader would be the winner of the Jones vs Vera fight.

One thing's for sure, after UFC 110, Ryan 'Darth' Bader is now a name to be thrown in the mix at 205lbs.

George Sotiropoulos entered the octagon to a heroes welcome at the Acer Arena and duly delivered a fine performance for his Australian fans.

By dominating Joe Stevenson in the fashion he did, Sotiropoulos showed an extremely well-rounded game and looked very impressive throughout the fight. Sotiropoulos has now moved to 12-2 in his career and into the upper end of the lightweight division. 

With BJ Penn destroying all comers the UFC is desperate for genuine threats to emerge and they will be delighted with Sotiropoulos's performance at UFC 110. He is now on a four fight win streak and can look forward to facing a big name in his next fight. 

Talk of Gray Maynard has surfaced, but a better fight at this time would most likely be the winner of Kenny Florian vs Takanori Gomi. Should he win either of those fights, you could very well see the Australian fighting for a title by year end. Who would have thought that after his stint on TUF?

Onwards to New Jersey the UFC will go. Cain Valasquez standing over a fallen legend will be logged as the lasting memory from Australia, but for me, UFC 110 was about two fighters going "from prospect to contender."

That's all folks!