UFC Live Losers: What's Next?

Robert GardnerSenior Analyst IMarch 22, 2010

Last night the UFC made their debut on Versus with what looked to be an action packed card, but instead left many feeling a bit left down.

There was some incredible action but the show never really seemed to get into a good flow with all the commercial breaks and weird stoppages in the action. How many times to do you see a fight get stopped so the doctor cageside can pop a dislocated finger back in place for a fighter or a fighter basically give up because he got punched in the eye?

It just felt as if the fans at home could have been treated to more action by showing some of the preliminary bouts by cutting down on the excessive breaks.

Now that I’m done bemoaning the telecast, it’s time to examine what the best possible moves would be for the main card fighters.

For this round of fights I will be looking at the Losers while my colleague, Sterling Spiars , will be breaking down “What’s Next” for the winners.

James Irvin

Making his middleweight debut, James Irvin simply looked awful against Alessio Sakara. Irvin looked extremely drawn out during weigh-ins and it was apparent during the fight that his nearly two years away from the cage left him rusty.

Irvin needs to consider the attempted move to middleweight a failed experiment and get back to light-heavyweight where his body will feel and respond better.

A great matchup for Irvin would be another failed middleweight, Wilson Gouveia, who has always had plenty of talent but seems to lack the drive to develop or even make weight.

It’s not going to be a headliner by any stretch of the imagination, but both these guys have the ability to put on an exciting fight that the fans will appreciate.

Paul Buentello

While Buentello wins the “Tough as Nails” award for having his dislocated finger reset in the cage so he could continue fighting, it's clear he can’t compete with any of the new breed heavyweight in the UFC.

If Cheick Kongo can take you down and control you, what could you possibly do against wrestlers like Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin or even Frank Mir?

But, if he is used in the right way Buentello is a great fighter to use to fill out a card because he loves to stand and bang.

A matchup with Dutch kickboxer, Antonio Hardonk, could be a stellar addition to a card lacking standup firepower.

Gabriel Gonzaga

Once a contender for the UFC heavyweight title, Gonzaga now finds himself firmly planted in the role of gatekeeper for the division.

As gatekeeper, Gonzaga’s next opponent should be the winner of the matchup between Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve at UFN 21.

With Gonzaga’s blend of size, power and grappling prowess, he would be the perfect test to see whether either man is ready for the for the deep end of the heavyweight pool.

It’s really too bad for Gonzaga because without question the guy has a great skill set and had he burst onto the UFC scene a couple years earlier it’s likely that he would have been a champion. As it is, he just does not have the tools to compete with these new monsters.

Brandon Vera

Sadly, the truth for Brandon Vera is that he simply does not rise to the occasion when taking on an elite challenge and lacks the ability to pull the trigger when necessary.

All the pieces are there; Vera just can’t quite put it all together and get over the hump.

Now Vera finds himself in the exact same place as Gonzaga, playing the role of gatekeeper. Not exactly where you would have pictured him when he burst onto the UFC heavyweight scene in the fall of 2005 but not everyone is destined for greatness.

Vera’s next test should come in the form of Vladimir Matyushenko who—while being far from and up and comer—is knocking on the door to the UFC’s light-heavyweight top ten.