With UFC 135 now in the record books we look back at the event and rank it’s biggest winners and losers below.
1. Jon Jones
Once again Jones stepped in with one of the best light-heavyweight fighters of the last decade, and once again he completely and utterly dominated without ever putting himself in any real danger.
No one can deny Jones has now earned his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world at the age of 24, and given the way he keeps developing fight-on-fight, we still haven’t seen the best of him yet.
Dana White now ranks him as the third best fighter P4P in the world, and if he continues at this rate then he’s destined to hold the No.1 spot at some point in the future.
2. Nate Diaz
After mixed results in the welterweight division, Diaz returned to lightweight on Saturday night and put on a terrific display. he looked in the best physical shape we’ve seen him at 155lbs, and his striking in particular also looked much crisper and more accurate than it did the last time he fought at this weight class.
The win was impressive enough to help gloss over the fact that he lost three of his last four fights at 155lbs. To be fair to him all three losses were close, and in fact the two which ended by split decision came against two of the division’s current top contenders in Gray Maynard and Clay Guida, while he also holds a win over Melvin Guillard who’s also currently in the title hunt.
With that in mind he’s now back on the fringes of the title mix and should have some entertaining fights coming up in the near future.
3. Tim Boetsch
Boetsch has looked rejuvinated after his move down to middleweight and never looked troubled against Nick Ring, handing him the first loss of his professional career.
Bigger fights than this await Boetsch now, and while it’s hard to say exactly how far he can go his size, strength and wrestling ability in cunjunction with relatively decent striking and durability ensure that he’ll pose problems for a number of the fighters in the upper half of the division.
4. Tony Ferguson
It’s early days for the recent TUF winner but Ferguson’s striking certainly looked crisp against Aaron Riley on Saturday night.
Expectations have to be tempered though. Let’s not forget that another former TUF winner Ross Pearson also looked like a world-beater on the feet against Riley, but though he has gone on to become a respected lightweight fighter he’s only gone 2-2 since then.
Tougher tests are undoubtedly going to be waiting Ferguson soon and it may be the quality of his ground game that’ll determine how successful he’ll be in the longer term.
5. Mark Hunt
Expectations were low for Hunt in this fight, so even though he gassed badly in the last round in particular and couldn’t finish an out-on-his-feet Ben Rothwell he still managed to raise his stock with this victory.
The fact that he’s now got back-to-back wins in the UFC is quite remarkable when you consider that he had lost his past six fights prior to that (though it’s worth considering that he was often fighting big names like fedor, Overeem, Barnett and Mousasi).
It’s nice to see that despite being 37 and being given no hope of making an impact in the UFC that he’s actually took time to develop his skills and he actually showed some decent takedown defence for a change. I still don’t expect to see him getting much further in the division, but it’s a nice comeback story while it lasts.
1. Ben Rothwell
This was about a nightmare performance for Rothwell who’s failed to impress in the UFC so far despite his vast experience and solid record. After a long spell on the sidelines injured he needed a big win here and was widely expected to run through Mark Hunt, yet it never really looked like happening.
Credit to Hunt for displaying improved takedown defence, but between him and Rothwell’s previous opponent Gilbert Yvel you have two of the least skilled ground fighters in recent memory in the division and yet Rothwell has made heavy weather of both.
Worst of all though was how badly Rothwell ran out of steam in this fight. You have to factor in his time off and the effects of altitude, but even so this was hugely embarassing. I do give credit to him for even making it off his stool for the final round, but that’s about it. With a 1-2 record in the UFC the exit door is looming large for this IFL vet.
2. Takanori Gomi
Gomi just never got going in this fight. Partly that was down to a stellar performance from Nate Diaz, but the Japanese fighter has to shoulder some of the blame too.
He looks incredibly one-dimensional these days, seeming to rely entirely on the hope that one of his big, looping punches will eventually connect. So far he’s been successful just once with that strategy in the UFC against Tyson Griffin, but in his three other octagon outings he’s been soundly beaten.
There doesn’t appear to be any sign that Gomi is willing to change things up, and if it wasn’t for the fact that the UFC are heading to Japan early next year then I’d be expecting him to be released.
3. Matt Hughes
The outcome of this fight was no great surprise, from the moment Josh Koscheck stepped in as a late replacement Hughes appeared doomed.
Credit to the hall-of-famer for actually getting the better of Koscheck for much of the first round. In many respects it reminded me of Chuck Liddell’s last stand against Rich Franklin in that he looked great, but ultimately was betrayed by his weakened chin.
After being very durable throughout much of his 54 fight career Hughes has now been KO’d twice in a row in the first round. There’s no surer sign than this that it’s time for the 37 year-old to hang up his gloves.