While the return of Georges St-Pierre got all the headlines, a number of fighters on the main card at Saturday night's UFC 154 show saw their fortunes change significantly, not just by winning, but by making a name for themselves on what should be one of the UFC's better-watched pay-per-view event of the year.
Not only was UFC 154 on pay-per-view, but the event also aired in more than 300 movie theaters around the country.
Wins and losses are always important, but just as important is how you fight and how much people remember you.
We've seen that when a fighter makes a name for himself (like Dan Hardy), he can also lose four in a row and be given a chance to rebound. Others, if the public doesn't know them, can be axed after just one loss. Let's look at how the fate of five fighters changed this weekend:
CARLOS CONDIT: Condit has already had a stellar career. He was the last WEC welterweight champion, an interim UFC champion, and has one of the best finishing percentages in UFC. And he's only 28. He came out of the show as a much bigger star than coming in. When he won the interim title in February by beating Nick Diaz, it gave him the chance to share main event billing on the St-Pierre return show. Until the last few weeks before the fight, he was regarded by most as just a guy who happened to be St-Pierre's opponent for his return. There would have been far more interest in Nick Diaz in that spot, but Condit beat Diaz and Diaz being suspended took that fight off the board. Condit lost the fight, and with so many strong welterweights, it may take a series of wins to get another title shot. But he's likely now to be viewed from this point forward as a genuine star, with a signature career moment as the guy who nearly knocked out St-Pierre with a head kick.
It was the first moment St-Pierre has even been in jeopardy of losing in more than five years. In beating Diaz, it was huge in that Condit earned himself a title and the big match, but he was not really a star. Now people see him in a different light. His fights going forward are going to garner more interest than had he never lost in this spotlight. But in as deep a division as welterweight, it's going to take time to build himself back up to a title shot. If he does, he'll mean a lot more in that position than he did the first time.
RAFAEL DOS ANJOS: Dos Anjos was not even scheduled on the main card, but was moved up when Nick Ring took ill on the eve of the show and his fight with Costa Philippou was canceled. He made the most of the spotlight by winning all three rounds over Mark Bocek, including dominating on the ground, which is Bocek's specialty. What was most impressive is that the lopsided win, including a second round that almost could have been scored 10-8, is the Brazilian handed Bocek a more one-sided loss than current lightweight champion Benson Henderson did last year at the Toronto stadium show. That doesn't make him an instant title contender since the lightweight division is the deepest in UFC right now. It's also likely getting stronger with the potential additions of Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Pat Healy and perhaps even Eddie Alvarez. But the nature of the win has to make people take notice that he's someone who can be a real first test for any of the name newcomers. He's also serviceable as well as the crew already in the logjam at the top like Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Gray Maynard, Joe Lauzon, Matt Wiman and T.J Grant.
JOHNY HENDRICKS: Nobody at UFC 154 elevated their stock more than the two-time NCAA champion from Oklahoma State, who moved to 13-1. With his one-punch knockout of Martin Kampmann in 46 seconds, he looks to be the young version of Dan Henderson, a world-class wrestler with H-bomb power in his fists. The win showed his similar knockout of Jon Fitch wasn't a fluke. He came in already having won a bout over Josh Koscheck that was supposed to make him the top welterweight contender. But that win just made people think he would be St-Pierre's next victim. Now there is real intrigue about the fight.
What also makes Hendricks like Henderson is that because he punches so hard, he often puts himself off balance. Even with his high-level wrestling credentials, he can be taken down. He's said that he's not risking his title shot and wants to sit out until the fight is made. But he may have to fight once more, unless he wants to sit out a long time. Even though that punch likely added tens of thousands of buys to a potential St-Pierre fight, there are still bigger money fights for the champion with Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. While it's impossible to argue that Diaz should for any reason other than business face the champion before Hendricks, if Diaz can win his first fight back from suspension, it would hardly be a shock that he cuts in line for the shot.
MARK HOMINICK: In losing to Pablo Garza (his fourth defeat in a row) questions were being asked to Dana White Saturday night about the former top featherweight contender's future. White was noncommittal. From his reaction, cutting Hominick was hardy a decision it sounded like he wanted to make. But while praising Hominick as the kind of guy they want in their company, he didn't give him the complete vote of confidence. There are a lot of reasons to bend over backwards for him. For one, he gave featherweight champ Jose Aldo his toughest fight on North American soil, the best fight on one of the biggest shows in history. He's a Canadian star with some name value, the kind of guy who strengthens shows in that market. Two of his losses were fights of the night. The only one that didn't go the distance was the seven second knockout to Chan Sung Jung coming after the shocking death of trainer Shawn Tompkins. But with Strikeforce going down and roster spots likely being taken up my the addition of their fighters, the timing of his fourth loss is not the best.
TOM LAWLOR: Lawlor's name recognition trumps most guys who have lost four of their last seven and have never headlined. He was one of the most talked about fighters leading up to the show, with his skits outside the ring. Lawlor, a one-time World Wrestling Entertainment hopeful before concentrating on MMA, paid homage to a legendary moment in pro wrestling history, The Shock Master's debut in 1993. When he was supposed to debut as a feared giant monster, Shock Master instead tripped, fell down, and became a short-lived comedy figure only remembered today for that moment. Lawlor may never be a top middleweight contender, but guys who stand out are always beneficial. What doesn't help is his fight with Francis Carmont, which he lost the decision, was the least exciting of the show. Losing that kind of a fight is never good. But it would be a shame that a bad decision would cost someone their UFC job especially since most felt he deserved the win.