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Chris Dolan: December’s Top Winners & Losers

I’ve been writing a regular monthly column on my blog in which I break down which fighters I consider to have had the best and worst month. I call this column “Winners and Losers” and I am pleased that it has been added to as a regular feature.

Below is my list of “winners” and “losers” for the month of December.

Losers –

It’s not often you’ll find someone on the loser list two months in a row, but Fabricio Werdum has had another losing month. It was thought that he would find a new home quickly after his release from the UFC in November, but Werdum is still on the unemployment line. Affliction chose not to bring the heavyweight in for their “Day of Reckoning” card on January 24th. It’s amazing how his stock as fallen so far so fast for such a talented fighter.

The gruesome leg injury he suffered at “Fight for the Troops” might put an end to Corey Hill’s career. He shattered his leg while attempting a leg kick vs. Dale Hartt that will require 12 to 18 months of rehab. Hill was already behind the eight-ball as he started his MMA career late into his twenties and is still very green. Add in the fact that he will not be in the gym for at least a year and one would have to wonder if he can pick up where he left off and still be competitive.

Jon Fitch, the UFC, and the American Kickboxing Academy all find themselves as the main losers in December. Their feud has given all involved a black eye in some form this month.

Fitch was released from the UFC for not signing a lifetime personal licensing agreement earlier in the month, but was resigned the next day. But because of his ‘insubordination’ he has been relegated from the main event at UFC 87 to a dark match at UFC 94 vs. Akihiro Gono. In the past Fitch had criticized the UFC for not televising his matches, so one would wonder if this would continue to splinter his relationship with his employer.

The UFC and Dana White suffered a slight PR hit from the release of Fitch. You saw their damage control at work right away as they smoothed things over with Fitch within 24 hours of his release. They say everything has been worked out but only time will tell.

AKA’s relationship with the UFC has always been on thin ice but now that ice is ready to crack at any time. It was thought more fighters from the camp would be released besides Fitch, but none have been to this point.  They will need to work hard to repair their relationship with the UFC just to keep their fighters job security intact.

Winners -

After his release from the UFC, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou found a new home with Affliction and will fight on the main card at “Day of Reckoning” vs. Renato “Babalu” Sobral in a high-profile match. He will look to regain the top ten form he had prior to his loss to Luis Cane at UFC 89 which lead to his release.

Bobby Lashley silenced the critics, at least for now, with his TKO victory over Joshua Franklin at Mixed Fighting Alliance’sThere Will Be Blood.” The former WWE Superstar put an end to the fight in just 0:41 into the first round via doctor stoppage due to a cut in his MMA debut. The win has already sparked talks of a match with UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar down the line.

The UFC had another hit with The Ultimate Fighter this season and capped it off with a great night of fights at “The Ultimate Finale.” Ryan Bader and Efrain Escudero took home the titles and both will have bright futures in the promotion. The UFC should also find a good amount of talent in the crop of fighters that appeared on the show.

Two of the biggest winners of the month were Frank Mir and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Both were extremely impressive in their wins at UFC 92 vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Wanderlei Silva respectively. Mir looked better than he ever has in his career, as he became the first man to stop Nogueira to capture the UFC interim heavyweight title. Rampage bounced back from his loss to Forrest Griffin and a battle with his own personal demons to KO Silva in the first round. Rampage should find himself back in the light heavyweight title picture again and could be next in line to face new champ Rashad Evans.

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