Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) concluded its first weekend campaign in a whopping seven weeks, as UFC on FUEL TV 2: "Gustafsson vs. Silva" brought a card full of mixed martial arts (MMA) excitement to Stockholm, Sweden yesterday (Sat., April 14, 2012).
The main event showcased a light heavyweight battle between two men, Alexander Gustafsson and Thiago Silva, who sought to move themselves one step closer to a title shot. For Gustafsson, a win would have given him five in a row and put him "in the mix," maybe needing just one win or two more victories to earn himself a championship bout.
Silva was looking to make a successful return to the Octagon after being sat down for a year for using a masking agent to disguise an illegal substance in his urine. A win would show everyone that he was back and serious about making a run in the 205-pound division. A loss would put him in a dangerous position from a career perspective. No one one wants to be in the "two-going-on-three-losses" club in the UFC.
It's just bad business.
Unfortunately, only one man can be left standing and last night, it was Gustafsson who proved to be the better man. It will be interesting to see who matchmaker Joe Silva pairs him up with next, though UFC President Dana White has already stated that he'll get a top five opponent next.
After the jump, we'll take a look at the entire list of fighters who emerged from UFC on FUEL TV 2 as the big winners and lowly losers:
Alexander Gustafsson -- With a huge win over Thiago Silva, Gustafsson should be one or two fights away from a title shot now. As mentioned previously, he'll certainly get a top five guy in his next contest and he deserves to. He proved that he has some of the best striking and footwork in the light heavyweight division. He's going to be a force to be reckoned with for a long time to come.
Brian Stann -- I love this guy, so if I'm biased, it's going to show. There's just not much to dislike about "All American." At UFC on FUEL TV 2, he absolutely devastated Alessio Sakara and made him sorry that he chose to stand and trade with him. He's been saying for a while now that his power is unsurpassed in the middleweight division. He may be right.
Siyar Bahadurzada -- This guy is for real and he showed the whole world with a nasty first round knockout over Paulo Thiago. We'd heard a lot about him leading up to this fight, and he showed his "killer" reputation is well deserved. I can't wait to see what he does next!
Francis Carmont -- The 185-pound Georges St. Pierre protege is still a bit "green," but he keeps improving and looked really good -- for the most part -- in his win over Magnus Cedenbland. He has a lot of little things to work on, but he's an up and comer in the middleweight division that everyone needs to be on the lookout for.
James Head -- There's nothing like taking on the hometown hero in front of his friends and family and absolutely smashing him. You know who picked Head to win this one? Nobody, that's who. But MMA fights aren't won on paper. They're fought in the cage. I'm not ready to crown the guy a top contender, but it was a big win.
Brad Pickett -- "One punch" demolished Damacio Page. Simple as that. He overwhelmed him. He took his best shot, and then he returned fire with a bevy of blistering punches and an eventual submission win. We've been expecting big things from Pickett for a while now. It looks he's starting to live up to the hype.
Cyrille Diabate -- I'm not going to go crazy with compliments, but I have to give credit where it's due. Diabate has taken a lot of heat for his ground game in the past, and deservedly so. Last night, he appeared to have improved enough to at least handle himself on the canvas. Not only did he show decent submission defense, but he also made use of some wicked ground and proud. Good job.
Dennis Siver vs. Diego Nunes -- I have a hard time really calling either of these guys a loser after a fight like this. For Siver, it was a great first fight at featherweight. For Nunes, it showed that he's still one of the toughest guys at 145-pounds, even though he lost. This was a war, and if you missed it, you need to find the video, ASAP.
Papy Abedi -- After starting off his career at a very impressive 8-0, Abedi is now 0-2 in the UFC and has not looked great in either loss. It just shows how big a difference there is between the minors and big show. Two times he's fought in the UFC. Two times he's been the victim of a rear-naked choke. Abedi makes Frank Trigg look like an expert at defending the "RNC." He needs to take a few months off and work on his ground game and his cardio. Maybe it's all those cigars.
Damacio Page -- This loss makes three in a row. It was a bad one, too. I remember the first time I saw Page. It was on an episode of "TapOut." "Mask" and "Skrape" and "Punkass" were doing what they could to make a real pro fighter out of him. He had a great story. I was rooting for him. I still am, but it may be the end of the UFC road for him. At least for now.
DaMarques Johnson -- Johnson is just one of those guys who you never know what you're gonna get out of him. He might score a vicious KO. He might get schooled on the ground and get finished. He just seems to be a real enigma in the sport. He has a lot of pondering to do.
Referee Robert Sundel -- I usually leave the officials alone in these posts, but Sundel really grinded my gears on Saturday. I felt like every time I saw him, he was telling fighters to "work" or standing them up from a completely active and viable position. I understand we don't want guys to "lay and pray" in the cage, but it seemed like he had zero patience for any kind of grappling, whatsoever. Here's the weird thing: Sundel actually used to (and may still) compete in MMA and jiu-jitsu. Apparently, he's a submission specialist and former jiu-jitsu champion. I don't get it. You'd think a guy with a background like that with have a better idea of what he was looking at, but he was way too anxious to break and stand fighters up from spots that I thought should have been left alone.
Anyway, that's my laundry list of big time winners and the lowliest of losers. Did I leave anybody out? Feel free to make your well-though out corrections, additions and subtractions in the comment section below!
For complete UFC on FUEL TV 2: "Gustafsson vs. Silva" results, including blow-by-blow details of all the action, click here.