Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.
With UFC 143 in the books, it's time for a self-assessment of the fight picks-both good and bad. All in all, UFC 143 was a solid night of fights. The betting favorites won 10 of 11 fights, with Carlos Condit being the only underdog to win, so a good set of fantasy picks had to hit on the round and method.
Poirier was the most obvious pick at UFC 143, with 98% of fans at Sherdog picking him, and he notched his 4th straight UFC win against Max Holloway, a 20-year old opponent fighting on short notice. Poirier picked up "Submission of the Night" for his mounted triangle and armbar win. Up next for Dustin Poirier is a main event fight on UFC on Fuel 3 this May against "the Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung.
Diaz lost a close fight in the main event. Rounds 1 and 2 were relatively close, and in round 5 Diaz had back control and was threatening with moderate submission attempts. Given the flaky standards of MMA judges, it was surprising this fight was not a split-decision. During the week, it looked like a rematch was in the works, until it came out on Thursday that Diaz failed a drug test. From here, Diaz is likely facing a one-year suspension. With two consecutive pay-per-view main events under his belt, Diaz is somewhat an asset to the UFC so he may not get cut.
Josh Koscheck won a narrow split-decision over Mike Pierce, and he now has 15 UFC wins. Koscheck is a proven commodity in the UFC, and he can expect a top-tier welterweight in his next fight, perhaps Johny Hendricks or the winner of tilt between Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves in Australia next month.
Barao continues to steamroll the 135 pounders he fights in the UFC. While some think he deserves a title shot, with five months until Cruz and Faber, it is likely Barao gets another televised fight this spring or summer to truly establish him as a #1 contender.
Werdum and Nelson was the most closely picked fight at UFC 143 as fight fans picked it down the middle 50-50. In hindsight, half of UFC fans were overrating Roy Nelson, as Nelson took an inhumane beating. Nelson's face was rearranged, see the picture here:
Next up for Werdum is probably the winner of Kongo-Hunt or perhaps he fights a warm body on the same card as Mir-Velasquez, so Werdum can pinch-hit if need be in a higher profile heavyweight colission.
More after the jump
Matt Riddle wins here, although many scored the fight for his opponent, the very game Henry Martinez. Riddle is an action fighter, and at age 26 he has room to grow. He needs to train at a better gym so he can grow as a fighter. Look for his next fight to be against another welterweight undercard winner, perhaps Stephen Thompson.
Darn I missed this pick by a round. Ed Herman gave fight fans the only finish on the UFC 143 main card, as he picked up his second straight submission win and his fourth UFC win by submission. Herman is never going to be a top 5 title challenger guy at middleweight, yet he is still a guy that can put on exciting, red-meat fights on the main card. Ed Herman could give Chris Weidman a solid test, or perhaps Herman gets an opportunity to rematch Alan Belcher, a fight Herman lost by split-decision back in 2008.
Matt Brown stayed alive in the UFC by pounding out Chris Cope on the FX prelims last Saturday. Brown always brings the fight, and a showdown with Stephen Thompson would certainly be a barnburner and potential "Fight of the Night"
Stephen Thompson is for real. Well at least he can throw a pretty headkick after a two-punch combination. In his next UFC outing, I'd expect the UFC to match him up against another welterweight who likes to stand and bang. That would make for an entertaining opener for a Fuel or FX show.
Natal impresses with a comeback win here, as he was nearly finished at the start of the third round. Beating a European prospect like Michael Kuiper won't set Natal up for a main card fight anytime soon. He's just another guy in the lower rungs of the food chain at middleweight.
Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres was robbed of a one-sided win here by his own foot. After two massive ballkicks to Edwin Figueroa, referee Herb Dean shocked the world with a TWO-point deduction, thereby gifting a win to Edwin Figueroa. Since both guys are not really destined for bigger and better things, a rematch provides a storyline for both fighters.