It’s time to declare the winners and losers for the first month of 2009. This month’s list might have some surprises in it, and it was a very busy month, so with that let’s dive right in.
– Eddie Alvarez - Just as we ushered in the new year we had our first loser in Alvarez. He had a chance to cap off 2008 in style if he could defeat Shinya Aoki for the WAMMA lightweight title. Many thought Alvarez would win the fight but he was forced to tap at just 1:32 of the very first round. The way he lost, getting caught in a heel hook, will put a black eye on what should have been a spectacular year for the rising star.
– Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou - Maybe it’s just me but Sokoudjou is the most puzzling fighter in the world. His natural abilities to fight should make him a top five fighter at light heavyweight but he’s extremely inconsistent. His loss to Renato “Babalu” Sobral is just another example of him coming up short. All too often Sokoudjou will be winning a fight only to make a fatal mistake to cost him the fight. I’m officially off of the Sokoudjou bandwagon.
– Denis Kang – Kang dropped the ball in his UFC debut. His second round submission loss to Alan Belcher is just another example of Kang inability to stay focused. Kang has had a history of making rookie mistakes to lose fights that he is in total control of. He better make sure to avoid those mental lapses when he enters the octagon again or it could be his last.
– Jens Pulver - Have we seen the last of Pulver? His loss to Urijah Faber at WEC 38 was his fifth in his last six fights. Although he has been facing the cream of the crop that the WEC has to offer, you have to wonder how much “Lil’ Evil” has left in the tank. I would love to see him continue to fight and regain his old form, but I think his time as a fighter has come and gone.
– Georges St. Pierre - I never thought I would be able to put him on the loser list, especially after the dominating beat down he gave B.J. Penn, but George St. Pierre is a loser in January. Now GSP isn’t directly responsible for being on this list rather his corner is. The controversy surrounding the application of Vaseline to GSP in between the first and second round as well as the second and third have put a black eye on the fight and GSP himself. We all know he’s not a cheater, he’s a champion, but now everything is in question. Did the Vaseline change the outcome of the fight? I personally don’t think so, but we will never really know for sure, and the question will always loom. Despite the controversy GSP has made a statement to the world that he is right up there with Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
– Urijah Faber - “The California Kid” bounced back from his loss to Mike Thomas Brown with his first round domination of Pulver. This was the first step in the journey back to the WEC featherweight title for Faber, as he will need to pick up another win before he gets a shot at the title. If everything goes Faber’s way look for him to get that shot sometime this summer.
– Marcus Davis - Davis is starting to earn the reputation as the man who will have the fight of the night. At UFC 93 he put on a show with Chris Lytle in route to a spilt decision victory. Davis could also find his name in the title picture in the near future.
– Mirko Filipovic - In news that flew under the radar, earlier this month Dana White actually said the name Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. On New Years Eve Cro Cop defeated the 7’2″ monster Hong Man Choi at the “K-1 Dynamite!!” event. A loss would have signaled the end of his career, but the win has made him somewhat relevant again. Following the win White stated that he could see Cro Cop once again fighting in the UFC, which no one would have thought possible a year ago.
– Andrei Arlovski - Usually you won’t find someone with a loss on the winners list but Andre Arlovski has done just that. Before getting overzealous with a flying knee attempt Arlovski was picking apart Fedor in the stand up game. He was even winning the round before being knocked out. Add in the fact he has now signed on with Golden Boy Promotions to pursue his boxing career and you can see how it has been a successful month for Arlovski. One can only hope Arlovski comes back to compete in MMA again and take another show at beating Fedor.
– Dan Henderson - Henderson has taken the first step towards a title shot at 185 with his win over Rich Franklin at UFC 93. He will first need to get through coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter and a battle vs. Michael Bisping to earn that title shot.
– Lyoto Machida – Many had pegged him as a boring fighter but Machida changed that notion and punched himself a ticket for a title shot with his first round KO of Thiago Silva at UFC 94. Both men entered the fight at 13-0 in their career and many thought if anyone would get knocked out it would be Machida at the heavy hands of Silva. But Machida was able to knock down Silva on three occasions the third being the last one that ended the fight at 4:59 of the first round. It’s unclear if Machida will get the first crack at Rashad Evans or if it will be Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. No matter who gets the title shot first one has to wonder who if anyone can defeat Machida when he’s at his best.
– Georges St. Pierre - I can’t leave him off the winners list so GSP is on both sides of the list. During the fight He took Penn’s strengths and made them look like huge weaknesses. GSP took him down with ease and was able to pass his guard almost at will. If GSP keeps this up, could we see a showdown with Anderson Silva in the near future? And is it a stretch to think that GSP could win that fight?