With UFC 130 in the rear view mirror, lets review what happened and what the future holds for the fighters:
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson versus Matt Hamill
Result: Jackson via Unanimous Decission
I saw from the start the focus in Jackson's eyes, something I had not seen from him since the Keith Jardine fight. He didn't just win this fight, but showed he was on another level as an MMA fighter in comparison to Matt Hamill. Rampage stuffed all of Hamill's takedowns and he threw more knees in this fight then he has used in the last several years combined.
Next For Jackson: If his hand checks out when he sees the doctor this week then he will probably fight Jon Jones next for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. Since Rashad Evans has already commited to fighting Phil Davis at UFC 133, there needs to be someone to face Jones when he returns to action and there is a shortage of deserving opponents available to fight for the belt.
Next for Hamill: At age 34 time is running out for him to improve as an MMA fighter to have a chance to fight for the belt. Either Matt had a serious off-night in terms of his performance or he really needs to work on his striking and footwork to enable him to make the takedowns more viable. If Ryan Bader can get a win against Tito Ortiz in July then I think Hamill should be matched up up with him. If Bader loses in July then Hamill could get the winner of the Stephan Bonnar-Karlos Vermola fight.
Frank Mir versus Roy Nelson
Result: Mir by Unanimous Decission
Despite White's cynicism, Mir was impressive in his win against Nelson. Mir's striking and grappling was sharp. To top it off, he took down Nelson at will which shows that Mir is getting better as an MMA fighter, a scare thought for other UFC Heavyweights. Nelson got worn out trying to fend off Mir's attacks and by the end of the fight didn't seem like he wanted to even be in the Octagon anymore.
Next for Mir: In The last 4 years Frank Mir has only lost to two men: Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin. He is still an top 10 Heavyweight MMA fighter which gives him plenty of options for his next fight. Mir could be matched up with the winner of Antonio "Minotauro" Nogeuria-Brendan Schaub or depending on the his patience and health, he could wait around until Brock Lesnar comes back from his surgery in early 2012.
Next for Nelson: Nelson has stated after the fight he needs to add more weightlifting and cardio to his training. Although its hard to take a guy seriously who brings in a guy to help him with his wrestling whose strength is Muay Thai (Dan Hardy). Losing two fights in a row does no favors for any fighter in the UFC so he needs to win his next fight to stay releavant in the UFC Heavyweight division. The winner of the Joey Beltran-Aaron Rosa fight next month would be an interesting test for Nelson.
Stefan Struve versus Travis Browne
Result: Browne via Knockout
I did not have any real expectations for this fight so I was pleasantly suprised with the action from both men. It was an interesting striking battle until Browne blasted Struve, sending the 6'11" fighter crumbling to the ground.
Next for Browne: Browne's power was on full display against Struve in this fight and he looked ready to fight from the start. It's time for him to face a fighter who is more well rounded then his last two opponents. Maybe a matchup with the winner of Matt Mitrione-Christian Morecraft fight would be a good measuring stick of his development as an MMA fighter.
Next for Struve: After being blown away by Junior Dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and now Travis Browne its fair to say Struve is basically a gatekeeper fighter who guards the divide between the elite heavyweights in the UFC and the rest of the field. Yes Struve is still young but unless he hits the weight room to add more muscle to his lanky frame and gets a stronger chin he has no other future in the UFC or MMA. Logic says his next opponent could come from the Jon Olav Einemo-Dave Herman fight.
Thiago Alves versus Rick Story
Result: Story via Unanimous Decission
An interesting but close fight resulted in Rick Story getting the biggest win of his MMA career. Alves put up a good fight and many people believe he won the third round but Story was given the first 2 rounds by the judges so Alves' 3rd roudn performance was too little too late. Story used his wrestling and aggressive striking to tame the usually forceful Alves. Even when it seemed like Alves could finish the fight against Story in the 3rd round, Alves seemed to still be a bit tenative because he was worried about being taken down.
Next for Story: Story has now rattled off six fights in a row and has shown he is ready for the next level of competition. But the young fighter is being naive and irrational to call out Jon Fitch for his next fight. Fitch has lost only once since 2003 (against UFC Welterweight Champ George St. Pierre) and Fitch is slated to be rematched against BJ Penn after their fight in February ended in a draw. But if Story really wants a step up in competition he could get Josh Koscheck next and see how he handles that challenge.
Next for Alves: Although he is only 27 years old, Alves has been around the UFC for for almost 6 years now. Losing to Story in such a close fight shows he still has some things to work on. Alves is one of the most talented 170 pound fighters in all of MMA and if he can figure out how to use all those skills the way he use to before 2009 then he will be back better then ever. A matchup with the winner of the Dan Hardy-Chris Lytle fight would give him the oppontunity to stand and bang instead of worrying about being taken down constantly.
Brian Stann versus Jorge Santiago
Result: Stann via TKO
If anyone had any doubts about Brian Stann's evolution as an MMA fighter, those doubts were put to rest Saturday night. Stann outperformed a guy in Jorge Santiago who was considered one of the top Middleweight fighters in the world. More importantly then just winning against Santiago, he finished him in the 2nd round, showing that Stann is ready for the next level at 185 pounds.
Next for Stann: Stann so far has looked unstoppable since dropping to Middleweight. His power and technique in all aspects of the MMA game is impressive. The sky is the limit for him and he could be holding the UFC Middleweight belt in just a couple years. Damian Maia and Mark Munoz are facing off at UFC 131 and the winner could be Stann's next opponent since the UFC is trying to slowly work him up the 185 pound rankings.
Next for Santiago: Santiago is one of the most talented fighters in MMA and he will come back from this loss for sure. Santiago ran into a fighter who has been unstoppable at 185 pounds and got run over. If he commits himself to training he can go on a winning tear like he did after he left the UFC in 2006. A matchup with either Dan Miller or Kendall Grove would make sense for Santiago as he is in his second go around with the UFC.
Miguel Torres versus Demetrious Johnson
Result: Johnson via unanimous decission.
One of the most (if not the most) exciting, action packed fights of the night got left in the hands of the judges. Although I scored the fight 29-28 for Torres, I understand that under the current scoring system utilized by MMA judges that a takedown is more valuable points-wise then who the more active fighter is on the ground. It was a great fight by both men and nothing should be taken away from Johnson because he put on a great fight along with Torres.
Next for Johnson: Johnson is on a solid four fight winning streak. His speed combined with his standup and takedown skills is proving to be a problem for many 135 pound fighters. If Joseph Benevidez gets past Eddie Wineland in August then a Benevidez-Johnson fight could be a number one contender fight for the UFC Bantemweight belt.
Next for Torres: Although he is only 30 years old, he has 43 Professional MMA fights in his career and he has won 39 of them. So the issue is not that Miguel Torres doesn't know how to win but he has been a bit unlucky at times in his last 5 fights. Torres is still young enough to be able to re-group to make a run at the Bantemweight title. Remember, this is a fighter who has had 20 straight and 17 straight fight winning streaks. A matchup with Japaneese MMA star Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto would be an interesting fight for both men who are at turning points in their careers.