Retrospective 2010: Dethroned UFC Champions

Jorge Luis Castillo@JLucastilloContributor INovember 29, 2010

Retrospective 2010: Dethroned UFC Champions

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    If there is one thing 2010 taught us, it is to expect the unexpected in the MMA world.

    Longtime champions like B.J. Penn lost their belt. "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko lost his first fight in the last 10 years in one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. Previously unstoppable champs like Lyoto Machida and Brock Lesnar got stripped of their belts. Even pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva got beat-up badly for five rounds until he managed to slip a submission in the last couple of minutes in his fight against Chael Sonnen.

    There still remains one title defense in the UFC when George St-Pierre faces Josh Koscheck on Dec. 11 at UFC 124. I highly doubt GSP will lose that fight, but then again, I said the same thing about all the previously mentioned matches. So lets take a look back at where some of 2009´s champs and winners will bounce back after seeing the face of defeat during 2010.

Brock Lesnar

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    Fall from Grace:

    Brock´s fights in 2010 were against Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez. While he submitted Carwin in the second round, he was beat up like never before in their first round and showed how tough of a chin he has. Cain Velasquez completely destroyed Brock in the next fight.

    What He Can Do to Get Back On Top:

    While Brock definitely needs to improve his stand up, Brock should still use his wrestling and brute strength as his main weapons. He may have been defeated this year, but he is still a force to be reckoned with. If he manages to improves his stand up and perfects his wrestling skills, he will become a champ again soon. I think there is still a bright future ahead of him in the UFC now that he has discovered his weakness.

    I think possible bouts for Brock in 2011 include: Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, Big Nog and possibly the Frank Mir rubber match.

Lyoto Machida

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    Fall from Grace:

    Machida´s battles in 2010 include a rematch against Shogun Rua and another one against Rampage Jackson. He won the first fight against Shogun via an extremely controversial unanimous decision and lost the second one in a devastating KO in the first round. After losing the title against Shogun, he fought Rampage to lose a very close split decision which also generated controversy.

    What He Can Do to Get Back on Top:

    Machida suffered his first two losses this year, and the Machida ended a lot sooner than expected. However, Machida did not look bad at all in his last fight against Rampage. What we did learn is Machida´s weakness is his lack of aggressiveness.

    Sure, Machida is an elusive fighter and that's one of the things that has made him so dangerous before, but facing more aggressive fighters like Shogun and Rampage needs a tweek in the game plan. I think Machida understood this going into the final round against Rampage, and went for the kill even if it means a higher risk. Machida completely dominated Rampage in the third round and by increasing his aggressiveness started to win the fight , but it ended up being too little too late.

    I think Lyoto needs to adapt to each fighter according to their aggressiveness. Being aggressive at the right times will definitely get the Dragon his belt back, and makes him a lot more unpredictable.

    Possible opponents for 2011 include: Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Jon Jones, Ryan Bader and possibly even Matt Hamill.

B.J. Penn

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    Fall from Grace:

    B.J. Penn´s fights in 2010 include two UD losses to Frankie Edgar, and a win against hall-of-famer Matt Hughes.

    What He Can Do to Get Back On Top:

    Unlike other dethroned champs on this list, Baby J´s resurrection has already started after a devastating KO against the legendary Matt Hughes in the 21st second of the first round.

    What we did learn in his two losses against Edgar, is that B.J.´s stamina could use improvement. He seemed extremely tired by the end of the Edgar fights. If B.J.´s conditioning improves significantly, he might become the biggest test in GSP´s career if they face each other again.

    B.J. already has a fight scheduled against Jon Fitch in UFC 127 on Feb. 27, 2011. It´s very hard to pick a favorite in this excellent matchup, and I would still give a slight advantage against Fitch, but one thing's for sure, this will be a war.

    Possible fights after Jon Fitch: GSP, Josh Koscheck, Jake Shields, Chris Lytle, Carlos Condit.

Still Champion: Anderson Silva

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    Andreson Silva retained his belt during 2010. His fights this year include a fight that was stated by Dana White as "an embarrassing moment for the sport" against Demian Maia, and a fight against Chael Sonnen that nearly saw the end of The Spider´s four-year reign as middleweight champion.

    During the Sonnen fight, we learned that an elite wrestler might be what it takes to defeat him. Silva must have realized this and I have no doubt we will see a humbled Anderson Silva when he faces Vitor Belfort next year. If Silva gets past Belfort, he will face Yushim Okami next.

    Belfort might have a chance against him, but considering what I saw from Okami in his last fight, it is extremely unlikely he will be the one to beat Silva. Assuming Silva gets past both these guys, what's next ?

    A rematch against Demian Maia or Chris Leben? Micheal Bisping or Jorge Rivera? Do we really need to see any of these matches instead of the other option:

    Setting up the biggest MMA fight of all-time with Silva facing Georges St-Pierre?

    Of course, there is a third option, and that is to move up to light heavyweight, which would actually be a great thing, for us fans at least. 

Still Champion: Georges St-Pierre

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    Georges St-Pierre has only had one fight in 2010 against Dan Hardy, in which GSP dominated the fight towards a UD. He has an upcoming fight against Josh Koscheck in UFC 124 on Dec.11.

    If he gets through Koscheck, he will face Jake Shields in what surely will be a very good fight. The winner of that fight is supposed to face the winner of  B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch.

    GSP will have a busy schedule next year, which makes it very unlikely that the dream fight against Anderson Silva will happen in the near future.

    What I do want to see is GSP keeping his belt from what I consider an inferior opponent in every skill. In everything Josh Koscheck is good, GSP is better. 

    But then again, this year has been full of surprises, and if Koscheck becomes the welterweight champion on Dec.11, just remember this: Fedor also lost this year. And true champions are the ones that get up stronger after falling.