What do you say we comb through the wreckage and see who the big winners and losers are after this eventful weekend in MMA?
Biggest Winner: Drew Fickett
Winning the Shine Fights lightweight grand prix may not be the triumph of a lifetime for most fighters, but after the hard times Fickett has fallen on/brought upon himself, it's at least a break in the clouds. He beat three professional fighters in one night, all by first-round submission. Even if one of them was the eminently submittable Charles Bennett, it's still impressive. Then again, the issue with Fickett has never been a lack of talent. Hopefully he's had enough self-destruction by now and can use his big night as a springboard to something greater. Might be time to send a tape of his tournament win to Strikeforce, along with an assurance that he's not under contract anywhere else this time.
Biggest Loser: Keith Jardine
His performance in the split decision loss to Trevor Prangley at Shark Fights 13 wasn't a horrible one, but when you can't beat a middle-of-the-pack middleweight you have to wonder where your career can possibly go from here. Jardine has now lost five straight, with each opponent less impressive than the last. He's been very much in the running in the last two fights, which is better than getting knocked out, but you're not going to revitalize your career with close decision losses to smaller fighters on the small circuit.
Biggest Surprise: Antonio McKee
Okay, maybe he didn't do anything too out of character. No flying knees or cartwheel kicks. Instead it was more of the same, only this time he actually finished a fight with his ground-and-pound rather than simply using it as a way to keep the referee from standing him up. You could argue that a cut stoppage is kind of a cheap way to fulfill his promise, but give the man credit, Azevedo clearly didn't want any more of McKee after taking the elbow to the head. Guess this means McKee's career isn't over after all. Hurray?
Least Impressive in Victory: Paul Daley
Can someone please explain to me how it is that Daley's been a pro MMA fighter for seven years now and still has such terrible takedown defense? You'd think he would have learned more just from osmosis. Jorge Masvidal didn't even need to set up the single-legs against him. He just reached for Daley's leg and the takedown was there. After missing weight and then just barely scraping by with a decision victory, Daley's not doing much to convince the UFC that it was a mistake to release him. I hope he's as happy as he claims to be taking mediocre fights in the small circuit. If he keeps this up, that's exactly where he'll stay.
Best Future Prospect: Tarec Saffiedine
He's by no means a finished product at this point, but as he showed in his decision win against Brock Larson, the kid can fight. He still has some developing to do, but he has all the tools necessary to turn into one hell of a fighter. That's all the more reason for Strikeforce to get him back in the cage and on the undercard of a real event. No more Challengers for this guy, please.
Most Memorable Commentary: Don Frye and Bas Rutten
I don't know if I'd call their Shark Fights commentary good, but it was...something. Normally I'm against the commentators becoming a show unto themselves, but all the rules go out the window when you're dealing with Don and Bas. The great part about listening to them during the fights is that you never know what's going to come next. That's also the bad part. Pity poor Ron Kruck for having to sit with them and try to keep things somewhat professional between the cheap shots at France and jokes about domestic violence. It's a thankless job, but someone literally has to do it. Seriously, I think it's an FCC requirement or something.
Most Sadly Predictable Collapse: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
How many times does Sokoudjou need to start strong and fade quickly before he is forced to admit that it's a problem? He's a good athlete with some scary striking skills in the first couple minutes. But then, as he did against Houston Alexander on Saturday, he runs out of steam and seems to be waiting around for his opponent to finish him. Sokoudjou could have put Alexander away with even a little bit more effort in the first round. Instead he gasped his way into the second round and went down all too willingly at the first sign of his opponent's offense. I'd say it was a hard, but necessary lesson for him to learn, if only he hadn't failed to learn it so many times already.