February was a busy month for MMA, with two Strikeforce shows and two UFC fights as well as some big shows for second-tier promotions. The month saw some fighters raise their stock while others came up desperately short. It's now March so let's take a quick look around to see how the month of February impacted the stock of some fighters.
Jon Jones - Jones was already highly regarded in the MMA world, but he was facing another man many pegged as a future star when he met Ryan Bader at UFC 126. Jones dominated the fight from bell to bell and made Bader look like he didn't belong in the same organization as him, let alone the same cage. Mauricio Rua is going to have his hands full defending his light heavyweight title against "Bones."
Antonio Silva - "Bigfoot" was a heavy underdog against what many expected to be a motivated Fedor Emelianenko. Silva did not look intimidated at any point in the fight and after a competitive round one, Antonio demolished Fedor in the second. Getting a quick takedown, ending up in mount and smashing away until Fedor's eye was so badly swollen that the fight was stopped in the corner before the third round could begin. Silva has had some uninspired performances in the past but this was a win where he put everything together and used his size to grind out the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
Sergei Kharitonov - Kharitonov was well known by MMA fans who followed the sport in the PRIDE days but his name had very little value in the U.S. He didn't only pick up a win over a former UFC champion when he knocked out Andrei Arlovski at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva, he picked up a win on the most watched Strikeforce on Showtime event to date. The fight was short and exciting and should make him someone that people are interested in watching when the semi-finals roll around.
Dennis Siver - It isn't just that Siver won an upset over George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127. It's the fact that in doing so he has convinced a segment of the MMA world that he's somewhere on the fringe of the championship picture. Not bad for a guy who got swept on the scorecards by Ross Pearson. He still picked up a big win and his stock has clearly risen in the eyes of the fans.
B.J. Penn - This is probably going out on a limb a little bit here given that he got trounced in the third round and clearly felt he had lost the fight. But, Penn still arguably won the first two rounds and he was able to take Jon Fitch's back more than once. Penn went up to 170 and dominated Matt Hughes and was competitive with Fitch for the first two rounds. In my eyes, that shows that Penn has legitimate life at welterweight should he choose to remain dedicated and keep trying to up his game.
Michael Bisping - There's nothing worse in a PPV driven sport than to have people not care about you. Bisping has made sure that, at the very least, there are plenty of people who will pay to see him get beat up. He also showed a willingness to sit down on his punches and was even grunting when throwing some combinations in a way that makes it clear that he is starting to put together footwork and defense with sitting down on your power shots.
Vitor Belfort - It was easy to make a case that Vitor Belfort hadn't earned a title shot against Anderson Silva heading in to UFC 126. The two men circled each other in a somewhat lackluster first few minutes before a single Anderson Silva front kick to the face knocked him out. It was not a good result and not a good showing for "The Phenom."
Japanese MMA - Okay, it's a little unfair to make a generalization about JMMA based on a few fights. But KID Yamamoto, Michihiro Omigawa and Yuya Shirai all came up way short in their respective UFC 126 and BAMMA 5 fights. Shirai? Got KO'ed spectacularly. Omigawa? Lost all three rounds on all three scorecards. Yamamoto? Managed to win one round on one of the scorecards.
Andrei Arlovski - It's over. Arlovski is a guy who I've always enjoyed watching and, like many others, I just kept refusing to write him off. But after Kharitonov knocked him out it was time to face facts. Andrei Arlovski is done. He can try to keep fighting, but he's done ever being a guy who has any business near top level fighters.
Fedor Emelianenko - I wouldn't go as far in writing off Fedor as I did with Arlovski. But he had serious issues with the size of Antonio Silva. It feels weird living in a world where Fedor has lost back-to-back fights.
Nick Ring - What a completely uninspired performance by Ring at UFC 127. His output dropped round after round until Riki Fukuda was taking him down at will. Seeing Ring desperately needing to try to do something dramatic late in the third round and mustering up only a soft leg kick was just sad.
George Sotiropoulos - How badly was Sotiropoulos overrated? His striking was nowhere near good enough to stand around with Siver, yet he stood at range flipping out small strikes while getting picked apart. George needed to get the fight to the ground, but his wrestling looked awful. Sotiropoulos has shown decent takedowns in the past but he looked absolutely lost as he reached for Siver's legs and was thrown to the side. It's hard to see Sotiropoulos competing with many people at the top end of the division when he can't dictate where the fight is going to take place.
Michael Bisping - Sometimes you can go a little too far and he may have done just that with spitting at the floor next to Rivera's cornermen. The illegal knee remains a heat of the moment issue for me and I simply don't believe that he was risking a potential future title shot by intentionally risking a DQ against a guy he clearly outclassed. But to many people, Bisping's actions were too much to tolerate.