It’s been an interesting month in the MMA world with a wide variety of winners and losers. Without wasting anytime let’s dive right in.
— Mike Thomas Brown: If you thought his win over Urijah Faber was a fluke think again. It took just 1:57 for the WEC featherweight champion to defeat Leonard Garcia in his first title defense at WEC 39. Now a rematch with Faber looms at WEC 41 which will provide the champ a platform to show the world just who the featherweight king is.
— Shane Carwin: “Untested” was the word used to describe Carwin going into his match with Gabriel Gonzaga. Now “proven” and “a force” are words attached to his name. Now the big fish in the heavyweight pond will come knocking on Carwin’s door and we’ll find out if he’s ready for that level of competition.
— Bobby Lashley: Despite his victory over Jason Guida being categorized as lackluster it was a win none-the-less. Now 2-0 in his young career, can Lashley continue to show he’s the real deal in the MMA world? Some suggest that the glass slipper might fall off this fairy tale ride, but with the proper training and match selection Lashley could find himself brawling with the big names within the next year.
— Lyoto Machida: Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 98 for the UFC light heavyweight title. Yes you read that right, it’s not a typo. The Dragon will get his long overdue title shot over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson who was scheduled to fight in Machida’s place, but suffered a hand injury on his victory over Keith Jardine. Machida has left a trail of huge names in his wake and one has to wonder if Evans posses the tools to be the first one to defeat the Dragon.
— Jesse Taylor: Since his release from the UFC in July 2008 Taylor has been on a roll. He defeated Chris Camozzi at King of Champions “Shockwave 2009” for his fourth consecutive victory. Taylor looked as if he was the real deal on The Ultimate Fighter had he been able to control his own personal demons. If Taylor can prove he’s controlled his rage and is ready for the big show, could he get a second chance from one Dana White just like Junie Browning received?
— Strikeforce: If you want to compete with the UFC and be successful you need a few tools to work with; time, money, and talent. Strikeforce has the money, has the time, and now has more than enough talent. Jake Shields will now face Robbie Lawler at their May event, in a very interesting match up even for the casual fan. Both were title holders in the EliteXC at welterweight and middleweight respectively. With the ability to put on matches like this, fans should be tuning into what very well could be the biggest competition the UFC has seen to this point.
— Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: He may want his title back but he’ll have to wait. His win over Keith Jardine was the proof White needed to give Rampage another shot at the title, but that will have to wait till the summertime at the earliest. A hand injury might sideline Rampage, but he will surely be more than a handful for the winner of Machida vs. Evans.
— Paulo Filho: “Their contract is too restrictive.” That’s the reason behind Filho pulling himself out of the Bellator middleweight tournament. This tournament would have been the ideal stage to redeem himself after his mind boggling let down in his last fight in the WEC. Now one will wonder where this former star will land in attempt to resurrect career.
— Frank Mir: A knee injury has forced Mir out of his title fight with Brock Lesnar at UFC 98. Luckily the injury is not believed to be too serious and Mir should be back in the octagon perhaps as early as UFC 100. After a dominating performance against Antonio Nogeuira to capture the UFC’s interim heavyweight title, one has to wonder if this knee injury will set Mir back.
— Chuck Liddell: The “Ice Man” has been put on notice by Dana White. Either win and look good at UFC 97 against Maurico “Shogun” Rua or you might be out of a job. Considering he has been the face of the UFC in recent years, that ultimatum might seem outrageous, but it’s really not. Having lost three of his last four matches Liddell isn’t the same fighter he once was. In a business where it’s put up or shut up, Liddell needs to make a statement to continue fighting under the UFC banner.
— Gabriel Gonzaga: It once appeared that he would be the man to beat in the UFC heavyweight division, but that luster has all but worn off. His loss to Shane Carwin at UFC 96 should put him squarely behind the proverbial eight-ball. He’s got a lot of work cut out for himself if he ever wants to get back into the title picture, but that might just be a dream now.
— Ken Shamrock, Karo Parisyan, and Kirill “Baby Fedor” Sidelnikov: All three men received suspension in March. Parisyan was suspended nine months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for pain killers following his win over Dong Hyun Kim. Also as part of his punishment his victory has now been ruled a no contest. Both Shamrock and Sidelnikov have been suspended one year by the California State Athletic Commission for use of banned substances. Shamrock’s suspension caused his fight with Bobby Lashley to be canceled and probably closed the door on ever getting another big pay day in his career.