Photo via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
Following all the excitign action at Fox 6, take a look at what the victories and defeats mean for last night's UFC fighters
Saturday night, the UFC returned to Fox with the first event on the network of 2013 in UFC On Fox 6. In the main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defended his title against slugger John Dodson by winning a 5 round unanimous decision. Overall, the event produced a ton of excitement but left some men riding high and others looking to regroup.
Demetrious Johnson - this one is obvious as the winner of the main event, but it goes beyond that. In his last two fights, Johnson has faced the two hardest punchers of the division in Joe B and Dodson. Considering DJ's point fighting style, those are the most dangerous matches for him and he's probably clear to stand over the division for some time now.
Anthony Pettis - When Pettis knocked out Joe Lauzon at UFC 144, he was immediately in the title discussion to rematch Ben Henderson. His progress was stymied when Bendo was forced to rematch Frankie Edgar though. On top of that, he spent a year off which always hurts a fighter's relevancy. Saturday night, he did exactly what he needed to do to jump back to the top of the title picture discussion. He caught Cerrone completely off guard with his striking prowess and finished in impressive fashion. Already there are calls for him to usurp Gil Melendez's spot as next contender.
Ryan Bader - Coming into his fight against Vladimir Matyushenko, Bader was coming off one of the two most embarrassing losses of his MMA career. Going against an aging veteran he needed an emphatic win here and he got it. He won't return right to the proverbial "mix" but he's got a good chance of receiving the fight he requested against Shogun Rua.
Glover Teixeira - Prior to this event, the biggest criticism to Glover's spot in the UFC has been his level of competition so far. While many will still bring up that Rampage was late in his career, this win is still a huge step up from Kingsbury and Maldonado. The decision over Jackson will definitely give Teixeira his chance to move up and face more top Light Heavyweights.
Quinton Jackson - Without a doubt one of the biggest stories leading into Fox 6 was Rampage's last UFC fight. As one of the most notable stars in the promotion, a win Saturday night would have seriously increased his leverage in negotiating with the UFC's competitors. Now, although he was competitive with Glover, he was always a step behind and definitively dropped his own value in the open market by giving up the unanimous decision
Donald Cerrone - For the second time since moving over to the UFC Cerrone has fallen one fight short of contendership. At 6-2 in only two years, Cerrone certainly has one of the most impressive records as a WEC crossover. But both times he's met elite competition he's been almost embarrassed in his 2 losses. He's obviously a very talented fighter, but needs to shore up the holes in his game to make that next step.
Hatsu Hioki - Plenty of people with respectable reputations in the MMA community disagreed with the decision regarding Guida vs. Hioki. That point is unsubstantial however, because Hioki lost in a way that is consistent with judging in North American MMA. It's incredibly difficult for a fighter to win a fight off his back in the UFC. That's something Hioki should have known going in and been ready to contest when he was taken down. Instead, he gave up the takedowns and failed to reverse positions. If he can't find a way to be more effective with his grappling, Hioki will not rise to the top of the UFC FW division.
Mike Russow - Russow managed to put together a very impressive 4-0 record in the UFC before running into Fabricio Werdum. That loss showed that he was not able to compete with the very elite of the Heavyweight division. However, a loss to Shawn Jordan illustrated that he could be beat by a much lower caliber of fighter. Russow isn't in danger of losing his UFC spot here, but he showed a big weakness to his future opponents.
Erik Koch - Koch was already a surprising contender when he got matched against Aldo for UFC 153. It was his good luck that FW was lacking in contender and he got selected despite a long lay off. Then it was his bad luck to be injured and replaced by a former LW champ. Fox 6 was his opportunity to prove his contendership and he let it fall between his fingers. After looking solid in the first, but allowed himself to be dominated in the second. Unless he can string together an incredible string of victories, it'll be a long time before we see Koch contending again.
Ricardo Lamas - This was probably one of the most overlooked relevant bouts in recent memory. Koch was supposed to fight Aldo at 153, but lost out due to injury. Lamas had been on an incredible streak since the WEC merger, but has gotten little notoriety. The dominant performance he pulled off at Fox 6 solidfies himself as one of the top men at 145 lbs.
Shawn Jordan - Jordans fight against Cheick Kongo was one of the worst in recent memory. The lower tier Heavyweigh needed a good performance at Fox 6 to retain his position. After being dominated in the first round, Jordan managed to rally and get a big finish in the second round. The TKO finish probably saved his position in the UFC.
Clay Guida - The carpenter managed to pull out a very close win against Hioki. Predictably after 3 rounds Clay got the call from the judges, but he displayed no skills that suggest he can threaten the top of the FW division. He got the win, but he spent 15 minutes defending and that's not going to help him move toward the title.
Vladimir Matyushenko - In his last fight, Vladdy was also finished quickly. It was fairly easy to write that off however, as Gustafsson was a riding contender with an impressive striking acumen. Getting quickly stopped by a known quantity like Bader is not as easy to overlook however. Yes, Ryan has been stopped by the top of the division, but if Matyushenko wanted to remain a UFC fighter, he needed to be more competitive with a defeatable fighter like Bader. There's very little room for him to go after an early finish like that now.