UFC 125 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Jan. 1, 2011 was an extraordinary event with upset victories and a five-round battle for the UFC lightweight championship.
Decisive victories for light heavyweight Thiago Silva and middleweight contender Brian Stann elevated both fighters positions within their respective divisions.
Key losses by Phil Baroni and Takanori Gomi should leave these fighters questioning their futures within the world's largest mixed martial arts promotion.
Setbacks by Nate Diaz, Josh Grispi and Marcus Davis will send these fighters back to their camps looking to improve on their weaknesses and sure up their fight games.
With the victors' futures guaranteed in the UFC, what is next for the losers from UFC 125?
January 2, 2011
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What does the future hold for the hard-hitting and typically durable Chris Leben? Suffering a knockout loss at the 3:37 mark of the first round to "The All American" Brian Stann, "The Crippler's" momentum from 2010 came to a punishing halt.
With his only other knockout loss coming at the fists and knees of current UFC middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva, Leben will need to reassess his propensity to stand and trade with superior strikers in the center of the octagon.
If Chris Leben wants to achieve contender status within the middleweight division, he will need to tighten up his strikes and develop a better defense with hand position and attacks at various angles.
Leben's power will remain, and his ability to trade with more technical strikers will place him back in the hunt for the title.
If "The Crippler" can develop the necessary changes to his fight game, his toughness and iron jaw will not need to be tested so often. A good challenge for Leben would be Nate "The Great" Marquardt.
Brandon "The Truth" Vera was not only dominated, but he was additionally brutalized by the hands of Thiago Silva.
Faring well in the stand up exchanges, Vera's lack of urgency to get back to his feet after Silva's successful take downs resulted in a severely broken nose and his third straight loss in the UFC.
A former threat in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, "The Truth's" future in the famed octagon will result in his walking papers from the largest mixed martial arts promotion in the world.
A very talented fighter, Vera will find himself competing in Strikeforce or possibly overseas for DREAM.
Vera needs to take a hard look at his abilities and resurrect the fighter who was once so highly regarded.
Dong Hyun Kim's world class grappling skills controlled Nate Diaz for three rounds leading to Diaz's decision loss.
Unable to prevent numerous takedowns, Diaz challenged off of his back for the majority of the fight. Never seriously threatening Kim, Diaz's jiu-jitsu could not lock up a submission victory for the Cesar Gracie pupil.
Coming into the fight, Diaz's slap style of boxing would not have challenged with the top strikers in the welterweight division including the likes of Carlos Condit or Dan Hardy.
After Kim's takedown clinic, a gaping hole was exposed in Diaz's fight game. Needing to improve on his stand-up skills and take down defense, Nate Diaz needs to minimize these glaring weaknesses in his abilities.
An all-around fighter should be Nate Diaz's next match up. A competitor like Jake Ellenberger would be a nice fit. Balanced in his stand up abilities and solid ground game, Diaz can test his overall skills against the likes of Ellenberger.
Long gone are the days when Takanori "The Fireball Kid" Gomi would strike fear into his opponents' psyches with his ferocious boxing.
Knocking out Jens Pulver and Tyson Griffin seem to be a distant memory for this hard-hitting Japanese star.
Nowadays, Gomi's unconditioned physique and seemingly pedestrian stand up skills are no match for the ever-evolving lightweight division.
Whether his weight cut was too much to pace himself with the unrelenting movement of Clay Guida is any pundit's guess.
What is true is that the 2011 Takanori Gomi is a mere shell of his former self. Needing to improve on his boxing, his lateral movement and fighting conditioning, Gomi needs to work back up the lightweight ladder.
Future match ups against either Nam Phan or even a stand-up specialist like Sam Stout should be in the cards for "The Fireball Kid."
"The Irish Hand Grenade" Marcus Davis
"The Irish Hand Grenade" Marcus Davis tasted some success in the UFC welterweight division. With a solid boxing foundation, Davis capitalized on superior footwork, counter-punching and power strikes to earn numerous victories and four separate bonuses for his performances inside the octagon.
Dropping to the 155-pound weight division at UFC 125 for his contest against Jeremy Stephens, Marcus Davis suffered a third-round knockout in his lightweight debut.
Lacking the power he is nicknamed after, Davis's punches did not result in the typical knockout result he was accustomed to at 170 pounds. To me, the drastic weight cut has sapped Davis of his lethal power and subsequent striking advantage.
Moving back up to the welterweight division would be a good career choice for Marcus Davis. A rematch against Ben Saunders would be the first step in re-establishing his relevancy within the UFC welterweight division.
Considered by some to be the next generation of MMA fighters for his stand up skills and ground game brilliance, Josh Grispi's success was made to look like a fluke during the vicious assault laid upon him by Dustin Poirier.
Without an answer for Poirier's dominant clinch work, Grispi endured substantial damage en route to a decision loss.
Originally scheduled to fight current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Grispi's defeat to Poirier revealed substantial gaps in his fight game.
Needing to re-tool his talent inside the octagon, a victory against a top tier striker such as Erik Koch or Diego Nunes will be necessary before "The Fluke" considers challenging the Brazilian striking sensation, Jose Aldo.
I will save the readers' time and my energy and say that "The New York Bad Ass" is done competing inside the UFC octagon.
With an overall MMA record of 13-13 and suffering a knockout loss to the hard hitting Hawaiian, Brad Tavares at UFC 125, Baroni's one-dimensional talents will no longer earn him victories against the best ultimate fighters in the world.
Merely a product of his own sensationalism and ultra-hype machine, the days of words providing a fighter with the opportunity to compete for the UFC are over.
Wins inside the cage equal match ups by Joe Silva. And wins are as elusive for Phil Baroni as humility is for "The New York Bad Ass."
The one-time WEC featherweight champion, Mike Thomas Brown has dropped three of his last five fights with key losses to current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and most recently a split decision loss to Diego Nunes at UFC 125.
Known for his overwhelming strength and power, strikers who can attack at various angles and levels have caused problems for this grappling great.
Needing to develop his overall stand up skills, Brown will continue to train with the American Top Team to enhance his weaknesses.
This one-time champion and fierce featherweight needs to work his way back up the championship ladder.
If Chad Mendes is successful in his UFC debut against Michihiro Omigawa, I would like to see a fight between Brown and Mendes sometime during the summer.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Greg Soto suffered a first-round submission loss to Daniel Roberts over the weekend.
With a 1-2 UFC record, Soto will need a victory in his next fight inside the octagon to remain employed by Dana White.
Due to the tremendously talented UFC welterweight division and the fact that Soto does not create an exorbitant amount of hype or appeal, Soto's next match up will be his toughest to date.
Stepping up in competition, Greg Soto will likely face either John Howard or the seasoned veteran, Dennis Hallman.
Signing a four-fight contract with the UFC, Antonio "Mandingo" McKee suffered a decision loss in his UFC debut to Jacob Volkman.
With 18 decision victories in 25 wins throughout his MMA career, McKee promised his fans and the UFC brass exciting fights in his future.
Not fulfilling his promises, McKee's ability to change who he is as a fighter will be much more difficult than just his words.
Unable to adjust to the UFC talent level in his debut fight, it is time to throw McKee to the wolves and see if Antonio has the fight game necessary to compete in the UFC's lightweight division.
Charles Oliveira, with his balance of knockout and submission victories, should be next for Antonio McKee.