UFC 137 concluded with its winners moving forward into title shots and title contention—but what about the losers?
Heading into the event, fans knew they were going to see the final fight of legendary fighter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. The heavyweight announced it would be his final fight at the pre-fight press conference, win or lose.
What fans didn’t know is that it may also have been the end of former UFC champion B.J. Penn’s career after the future Hall-of-Famer dropped a brutal three-round decision to Nick Diaz.
Other fighters that came up short include Matt Mitrione, Jeff Curran and George Roop.
This is what should be next for them.
After the UFC signed No. 2 featherweight Hatsu Hioki to the UFC, many anticipated the Japanese contender to make quick work of opponent George Roop.
It turned out to be much more difficult than people had expected, and Roop appeared to be much more improved from his last couple fights. Either that or Hioki wasn’t as good as everyone thought.
Roop still holds impressive victories over Chan Sung-Jung and Josh Grispi, and his potential since his appearance on the Ultimate Fighter has grown leaps and bounds.
After a controversial loss against Hioki, he can face the loser of the upcoming Pablo Garza vs. Dustin Poirier bout.
Curran has a long history in the sport, and although he came up short in his fight with top five bantamweight Scott Jorgensen, he has never gotten the respect he probably deserves.
Without any standout title shots in his 48-fight career, Curran may find himself leaving the UFC sooner rather than later.
This was his last chance to make a run for the title, but he can still continue to test the best of the up-and-coming bantamweight fighters if he chooses to do so.
If the UFC keeps him around, he can face the winner of the upcoming Cole Escovedo vs. Alex Caceres bout.
Croatian kickboxer and Pride openweight grand prix champion Mirko Cro Cop went into his bout with Roy Nelson knowing it would be his last, and the 37-year-old left on a low note after being stopped by “Big Country” in the third round of their fight.
During the post-fight interview, Cro Cop said, in the Octagon, that he would have liked to go out on a win so although he plans on retiring, it doesn’t mean his career is necessarily over.
The UFC will be returning to Japan next year, and if Cro Cop decides to take a spot on the card, he can face Mark Hunt in a rematch of a very memorable 2005 bout from Pride.
At 33, Matt Mitrione might not have the most time to develop his skills in his young MMA career, but his 5-1 record leaves much time for him to grow and show his improvement every time he fights.
It was a tense battle with Cheick Kongo, but it was one that Kongo won when he took the heavyweight down in the third round to secure the win. Some argued that the fight was a draw with the first two rounds being close.
For Mitrione’s next fight, a possible opponent includes Pat Barry, who recently lost to Stefan Struve. It will be these types of opponents that Mitrione faces, and they are the ones that he can beat while learning inside the cage.
Penn has had a rough stretch of fights, going 1-3-1 in his last five. In his first fight of the year, he earned a draw with Jon Fitch at UFC 127.
His latest loss came against former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz, who out-boxed and damaged Penn for the better part of three rounds before being awarded a unanimous decision victory.
There is no question that Penn can still remain competitive and beat many of the top fighters in the 155 and 170 pound divisions, but it now comes down to if he wants to fight.
During the post-fight interview, Penn gave hints that he didn’t want to continue fighting, but it’s not the first time he has said it.
He will probably come back for one or two more fights to go out on a win, and a return to the lightweight division to face Gray Maynard could suit him well.