USA TODAY Sports
With two events going on over the weekend, it seemed to make sense to just combine them into one big winners and losers column. The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale was undoubtedly a better card overall than UFC on FX 6, but both of them had some exciting action. One thing they did lack was relevance, but when they're doing 30-something cards a year, these things happen. Without further ado, lets take a look at the good and bad from the last two days.
Ross Pearson - After a crushing loss to Cub Swanson, Pearson was on the hotseat to bounce back and he did so very nicely. He dropped Sotiropoulos about 16 times, but was smart enough not to engage him on the ground. I'm not sure if he's going to be staying at lightweight or not, but I think he can still be a force in the featherweight division if he can make the cut.
Hector Lombard - After a terrible performance in his UFC debut where he was pretty inactive, he really needed to look good against Palhares. He came forward with bombs, and showed no fear of Toquinho's striking or possible takedowns. And it worked. He got his signature UFC win, and can be re-inserted into the title chase in the confusing middleweight division.
Joey Beltran - You know you're going to get an entertaining fight if in it, but his drop to light heavyweight needed to produce something else - wins. After a loss to James Te Huna in his UFC LHW debut brought him to 1-5 in his last 6 UFC fights, his job might have been on the line here. And he got it done. Frankly, Igor Pokrajac looked terrible and Joey picked him apart. He's never going to win any titles, but he's fun to have around at least.
Roy Nelson -Was it relevant? No. But mixing up his striking and finishing a guy that had never been knocked out was pretty impressive. Nelson wil continue to be a staple of the middle of the division, and that's not going to change anytime soon.
Colton Smith - Not many people were giving Smith much of a shot, but he took it to Ricci the whole time and won the contract. Good for him. Basically dissing the guy that was trying to give him a Harley was pretty funny too.
Rustam Khabilov - That debut got him noticed in a hurry, and it's unlikely that anyone is going to forget his fight anytime soon. As a foreign fighter in a very deep division, that was the best possible thing that he could have done in his first UFC fight.
George Sotiropoulos - It appears that Sotiropoulos fell way off somewhere over the course of the last two years. After six wins in a row in the UFC, he looked listless and couldn't get a takedown against Dennis Siver at UFC 127. Then got knocked out in a minute by Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 132. An 18-month absence from the cage didn't do much of anything to help, and he was completely battered by Pearson. He apparently didn't come across well as a TUF Smashes coach, he's 35, and he's lost three in a row. That's not good.
Mike Ricci - Well, that didn't go according to plan. Other than almost getting a late armbar, Ricci was completely controlled for 15 minutes and spent 14 of it with a look on his face like he didn't really care. It is true that he's a natural lightweight though, and his progress in his regular division will judge how good he really is overall.
Jamie Varner - Without saying a word on camera, Varner came off pretty bad last night. Melvin Guillard said that Varner's camp accused him of greasing, and implied that he wasn't really that sick. Chael Sonnen buried Varner, stating that he'd send his kid to school if he was throwing up. And teammate Ben Henderson didn't do much to defend him either. For a guy who already has a pretty bad reputation, this can't help (whether it's fair or not).
Steve Mazzagatti - We all know you're not the world's greatest referee, but how in the hell do you miss a guy (Mike Ricci) getting kicked square in the twig and berries while you're looking directly at it? Just another page in the bad reffing book for him. Brutal.