Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
As I sit here in the media room surrounded by the photo and video reporters, I the emotions of a live event are finally being lifted. There was a ton of anticipation for the interim title bout between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit as many people expected the fight to deliver fireworks. While the general feeling is split, there is no doubt that both fighters elevated themselves despite the decision. With three hours before my flight back to Austin, Texas, let's take a look at the biggest winner and losers of UFC 143.
Carlos Condit: Throughout the entire week, the media were discounting Condit's ability to play spoiler for the potential matchup between Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz. While it may not be the fight that people expected, Condit fought a perfect fight and walked away with not just the win but also a sweet Harley Davidson motorcycle. Not a bad way to spend Super Bowl weekend, huh?
Fabricio Werdum: He looked incredibly dominant in every facet of the fight, especially in the clinch. Lesser men would have crumbled to those knees to the face so the lack of a finish cannot be held against the two time Abu Dhabi champion. He's likely a win or two away from a shot at the UFC heavyweight belt.
Dustin Poirier: Dustin 'Diamond' was originally scheduled to face Eric Koch in a title eliminator. Unfortunately, the Duke Roufus product suffered an injury and was replaced by Max Holloway. While the fight may not have earned him a shot at Jose Aldo's belt, Poirier walked away with a $65k bonus which will ease that pain.
Ed Herman: There's something to say about a complete career rebirth. After a slew of injuries that kept him sidelined, Herman is now on a three fight win streak and a new found look on MMA.
Stephen Thompson: The highlight reel knockout over Dan Stittgen is a great way to make a UFC debut. The fact that he's such a highly touted prospect will mean that the UFC will develop him slowly as he has a bright future in the promotion. A fantastic performance from a young fighter.
Losers and other thoughts after the jump...
Matt Riddle: That was a god awful performance against a featherweight. It may seem absurd but Matthew Riddle has regressed since his time on the Ultimate Fighter. The only good news for Riddle is that as bad as he was tonight, he still put on a better performance than...
Rafael Natal: Rafael Natal is hands down the worst fighter in the UFC's middleweight division. I'm not arguing this or even offering any sort of evidence. If you watched the fight tonight you know I'm right. He walked away with the W but looked awful in the effort.
Alex Caceres: I hate saying that his game plan was to land two ridiculously hard low blows but holy cow did those take a ton out of Edwin Figueroa's tank. Justice was served though as Caceres walked away with the L and hopefully with a lesson in leg kicks.
- Nick Diaz may have announced his desire to leave MMA following the loss to Carlos Condit but I don't expect this to be the last time we see the elder Diaz brother in the UFC. He put on a great performance and the fact that people were arguing about the scoring is evidence of that fact. Hopefully seeing his brother fight Jim Miller will provide him with more motivate to return to MMA.
- Josh Koscheck may have been victorious but tonight but he looked awful in the victory. It was apparently his last fight with AKA so who knows if that was a factor but this wasn't a fight that he should be proud of.
- Roy Nelson is one of the toughest men alive. Those knees were ridiculous and he still stayed in the fight. Huge dap to the recently slimmed Roy Nelson for stay competitive against a top fighter.
- What's going on with Scott Jorgensen? He hasn't used his patented guillotine and has fallen off the bantamweight map with this loss to Renan Barao. Disappointing for such a promising young fighter.
- Henry Martinez deserves credit for fighting Matt Riddle who likely entered the cage around 190 pounds. Insane that he did as much damage as he did. I'm looking forward to seeing him return to the UFC closer to his natural weight class.