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UFC Fight Night 53, 54: Biggest winners, losers from 'Story vs Nelson' and 'MacDonald vs Saffiedine' runs down the list of “Who’s Hot” and “Who’s Not” from the UFC Fight Night 53 and 54 international doubleheader which took place yesterday (Sat., Oct. 4, 2014), nominating the biggest winners and losers from the four marquee bouts from Stockholm and Halifax.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday (Oct. 4, 2014) was a stacked day for mixed martial arts (MMA) fans as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) put on its fourth doubleheader of 2014 with two international fight cards highlighting a wealth of up-and-coming talent as well as four welterweight contenders looking to stake their claim as potential title challengers.

Both main events from UFC Fight Night 53 and 54 highlighted consequential bouts in the 170-pound weight class, changing the landscape of the contenders in the UFC's most stacked division in under 24 hours.

In the Fight Pass main event from Stockholm, Sweden, Rick Story stood tall after a prominent beating over highly touted SBG Ireland product Gunnar Nelson. Don't let the split decision fool you, the Icelandic native was slow to the punch the entire 25 minutes as Story put on consistent pressure in one of his better performances in his 17-bout UFC career.

In the FOX Sports 1 main event from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Rory MacDonald took out Tarec Saffiedine in the third round, staking his claim as the No. 1 welterweight contender. In his first main event in the UFC, MacDonald gave his Canadian fans a show, procuring his first finish in over two years in highlight-reel fashion.

See the video highlights here.

In a special doubleheader edition of "Winners and Losers," we break down who's hot and who's not from the main and co-main event fighters from the Stockholm and Halifax doubleheader.

Biggest Winner: Rory MacDonald

Just when it looked like we would be heading to the judges' scorecards for the sixth straight Rory MacDonald fight, "Ares" lit up former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine with a picturesque left uppercut in the third round that closed the show on the former champ.

At about 2 a.m. local time, MacDonald stamped his ticket for a UFC title shot in front of his adoring Canadian fans. Patient and methodical as always, MacDonald proved tonight that he is clearly the No. 1 welterweight contender and in line to fight the winner of Johny Hendricks vs Robbie Lawler at UFC 181 in December.

Thankfully, MacDonald decided to cash-in on his moment, and during the post-fight interview with Jon Anik, begged the UFC to give him his well deserved title shot, instead of uttering the "I'll fight who ever the UFC wants me to fight" nonsense we have become far too accustomed to hearing.

After four long years of hiding in the shadow of Georges St-Pierre, MacDonald is finally going to get a crack at the UFC welterweight title.


Rick Story

While it may not have been as high-profile a fight or as strong an opponent, Rick Story did to Gunnar Nelson what Dustin Poirier could not do against Conor McGregor at UFC 178 (highlights here). Story not only was a tough test for the previously unbeaten welterweight, but he halted Nelson's hype train in its tracks on Saturday.

After going 4-5 in his last nine heading into the UFC Fight Night 53 main event, Story put together arguably his best performance since derailing current UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks way back in 2010.

Story was in Nelson's face from the opening bell to the closing moments as he never let the Icelandic native get into a groove. Story's pressure stifled Nelson early on, and the SBG product had no answer when "The Horror" stuffed four of his five takedown attempts, essentially neutralizing Nelson's impressive grappling prowess.

With the big upset victory, Story should be able to shed the "gatekeeper" title for at least one fight, and get another crack at a top 10 opponent to prove he can still be a legitimate contender in the UFC's most stacked division.

Max Holloway

This kid is still only 22 years old, and he has won four straight UFC fights via spectacular finishes in 2014 alone!

Holloway is truly blossoming before our very eyes, and he is quickly making a name for himself in the crowded featherweight division. With 10 UFC bouts already under his belt, and losses to only Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, Holloway could soon be vying for a top 10 ranking.

In his first UFC co-main event, the Hawaiian-born martial artist put on a show, starching former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 competitor Akira Corassani in just over three minutes in the very first round. Holloway's striking looked as devastating as ever, as he once again impressed with his finishing instincts.

Quickly becoming the Donald Cerrone of the featherweight division, big time fights are soon to be on the horizon for Holloway.

Biggest Loser: Gunnar Nelson

"Gunni" could not capitalize on his huge opportunity to skyrocket up the 170-pound ladder on Saturday afternoon. In his first UFC main event, Nelson took on the ever-tough Rick Story, and the Icelandic welterweight found himself running into a buzzsaw that never let up.

Whether it was his inability to put together combinations, or to take Story down and work his impressive jiu-jitsu, Nelson was simply halted at every turn. In earnest, Nelson looked far smaller than Story throughout the fight, and the strength edge was unquestionably in favor or "The Horror."

In losing his first professional fight, Nelson's hype train has slowed significantly, and he may find himself outside the top 15 rankings come Monday morning. His best move may be to cut the additional 15 pounds and attempt a run in the 155-pound division.


Raphael Assuncao

How can a fighter who won his seventh straight UFC bout last night be among the "losers" today? Unfortunately for Assuncao, his placement in this category was essentially set in stone last week after Dominick Cruz's triumphant return to the Octagon at UFC 178.

Assuncao's lone opportunity to steal the title shot from Cruz would have been by finishing Bryan Caraway emphatically before calling out his former opponent and current champion TJ Dillashaw, whilst employing the angle that he was the last man to beat the champ. Instead, the decision win over Caraway will have Assuncao either waiting on the sidelines, or risking his place in line to go for his eighth victory in a row prior to a title shot.

Tarec Saffiedine

Last night was a tough one at the office for Tarec Saffiedine. The No. 9 ranked welterweight was hoping to seize his opportunity by taking out Rory MacDonald and cementing himself as the No. 1 contender, but instead fell victim to the punching power of "Ares."

Saffiedine's technical knockout loss was the first of his career, snapping a five-fight winning streak dating back to 2011. The former Strikeforce champion will have to return to the drawing board Monday, as he will have quite the climb to make in order to get himself back in title contention in the welterweight division.

One thing is for sure. Saffiedine will have to fight a lot more than two times a year to make any sort of significant impact in the UFC. If he can not stay healthy to take fights, especially meaningful ones, his promising career could be headed in a downward spiral.

That's a wrap.

For more results and fallout from the UFC doubleheader including play-by-play, videos, reactions, recaps, and more, check out our UFC FIght Night 53 and 54 live story streams here and here.

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