UFC 111 Opens the Door To the Contenders of the Future

David ModerCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2010

UFC 111 was an exciting event that did not disappoint, despite Thiago Alves dropping out at the last moment because of a brain irregularity. Not only was it a card for the top contenders in several divisions, it also opened the door to some previously unknown but strong fighters in nearly every division.

In the elite bouts, Georges St-Pierre dominated Dan Hardy in a unanimous decision, while Shane Carwin silenced his critics with yet another first-round knockout of Frank Mir. Jon Fitch used his trademark wrestling to deliver a customary unanimous decision victory against last-minute replacement Ben Saunders.

While, in my opinion, the upper-class fights at UFC 111 were good, the fights that seemingly didn't matter were better. In this article, I will examine those fights and the fighters who brought home the wins. They may very well be the future of their divisions.



Jared Hamman vs. Rodney Wallace—Winner: Hamman


Is he the future? No .

Hamman has stamina and a great chin. That's pretty much it.

He was rocked early, but his two strengths were perfect against Wallace. He weathered the early storm—and with his stamina, he managed to win because of Wallace's terrible cardio. Hamman wasn't even able to finish Wallace—and he was still outpointed numerous times standing, despite the fact that Wallace was exhausted.

Even though Hamman will likely improve, I doubt he can win against a perennial contender.



Matt Riddle vs. Greg Soto—Winner : Riddle 


Is he the future? No .

It's probably too early to tell, but his loss versus Nick Osipczak certainly didn't lessen any doubts I had of him originally. Riddle's still only 24, but his emotions got in the way of his fight with Osipczak. If he wants to be a contender, that simply can't happen.

He still has some potential, but I believe he can only become a gatekeeper at best.



Rosuimar Palhares vs. Tomasz Drwal—Winner:  Palhares


Is he the future? Yes .

There is no doubting that Palhares is a serious force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division. Even before his incredibly impressive bout at UFC 111, I was considering writing an article about his vicious and effective submissions—but I was skeptical of how he would do against a strong striker in Drwal.

All Palhares needed was one small mistake to take Drwal down and finish him with his bone-breaking—literally—heel hook. He showed killer instinct—and how quickly he managed to lock the submission in was just unbelievable. Imagine how scary he would be if he improves his striking. He could legitimately be close to unbeatable.  

If he wins his next bout half as impressively as he did against Drwal, don't be surprised to see him become middleweight champion in two years or less.


Nate Diaz vs. Rory Markham—Winner: Diaz


Is he the future? Yes.

Coming into the fight, Diaz had just lost a split decision to Gray Maynard. It was unexpectedly close—and because of that fight, UFC President Dana White believed that Maynard no longer deserved the title shot. Unfortunately for Diaz, he lost three of his last four fights—not a good idea when you're competing in the ruthless UFC.

His fight against Markham silenced any ideas of him being cut. Markham had come in a whole seven pounds over the required weight, so he was probably around 10 solid pounds of muscle heavier than Diaz.

In the end, it didn't matter.

Diaz peppered Markham with punches in bunches the entire fight, eventually winning by getting him on the ground and pounding away on the side of his head. It was an excellent performance—one that saw Diaz looking the best he has ever been. He is looking more and more like his big brother in every aspect of mixed martial arts.

After a performance like that, it's hard to identify a weakness in his game.


Jim Miller vs. Mark Bocek—Winner: Miller


Is he the future? No.

This was a hard choice to make, because Miller did win, after all—and his record is one of the best in the lightweight division. But his fight versus Bocek exposed some key weaknesses in his game. He definitely should have been finished in the second round. I don't mean to insult Bocek's skills, but he had Miller's back—and a rear-naked choke attempt at least would've been in order.

Miller was outwrestled and outgrappled for the majority of the bout—and the poor striking of Bocek was the only thing that barely enabled Miller to win. If he can't get more than a close, controversial decision against somebody of Bocek's caliber, Miller will lose to any top contender.

Fabricio Camoes vs. Kurt Pelligrino—Winner: Pelligrino


Is he the future? Yes .

Pelligrino is on a rampage. His string of wins seems lackluster at first glance—against Thiago Taveres, Robert Emerson, Josh Neer, and Fabricio Camoes. Look closer, and you will find that they are all strong veterans of the sport—excluding Emerson, who is actually quite underrated.

He may have been in trouble at first against Camoes, but once he completed that perfectly timed "head slam," he was always on top. A fight with George Sotiropoulos would be perfect for both fighters—they both are relatively older for fighters, at 31 and 33, so they could have one last run at the title.

Both fighters have great grappling skills and decent striking—making for an exciting fight.


Ricardo Almeida vs. Matt Brown—Winner: Almeida


Is he the future? Yes .

Almeida hasn't been stopped in a fight since 2002. A split decision loss versus Patrick Cote only happened after a four-year layoff—and now his ground game and relentless persistence to get his opponent to the ground are among the best in the welterweight division.

Wins against names like Nate Marquardt and Kazuo Misaki proved he was no joke, even back in 2003-04—and now he is back and better than ever. His masterful skills on the ground were shown against Brown, as he took Brown's back and easily sunk in the rear-naked choke. 

Brown was too easy of an opponent for somebody of Almeida's caliber. The UFC should now present Almeida with a true test to see if he can hang with the best. Seeing how easily Almeida won at UFC 111, expect him to pass the test with flying colors.



Sidenotes : Dan Miragliotta is now officially competing with Steve Mazzagatti for worst referee in the UFC. He separated fighters in the clinch when there was clear action going on multiple times—and don't even get me started on how late he was to stop the Mir fight.

There have been times when he was questioned in the past—and now this. Maybe it's their long names. Herb Dean is the best referee in the UFC; look at his name.