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The Forward Roll: UFC on FUEL 8 edition

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

The ground under Hector Lombard's feet is no longer quite so firm. When Lombard arrived in the UFC last year, he seemed destined to be fast-tracked to a title shot. That's usually your intended career path when you are handed a $400,000 signing bonus before you step foot in the door, and a $300,000 purse for your first bout. But with money must come production, and to date Lombard has struggled out of the gate, with losses in two of his first three fights.

Less than a year after arriving, Lombard's future now seems wildly uncertain. He's already expensive by most mixed martial arts standards; given the UFC's needs to chop down the roster, that's an even bigger strike against him.

As of now, there's been no decision made on Lombard's future. Given the UFC's investment in him, don't be surprised to see him given one more chance. This time, he better take it and run.

On to the predictions …

Wanderlei Silva
The old gunslinger turned back the clock by winning a firefight in the place where he made them famous. It would be a perfect closing note to a legendary career, but we all know that he'll be back in a few months. It seems that his intention is to stick in the 205-pound class and finish out his fighting career there. Matching him up is going to be an interesting exercise. The UFC's willingness to put him opposite Stann shows they won't take it easy on him, even after company president Dana White voiced an opinion that Silva should retire.
Prediction: He faces James Te Huna

Brian Stann
Stann likely could have fought a more conservative game plan and won; instead, he chose to offer the fans a spectacle and Silva a matchup tailor-made to his history of aggression. To be fair, most thought that was still a fight that would go Stann's way, but even after testing Silva's chin, Stann couldn't put him away. For his next bout, expect him to head back down to his natural class at middleweight.
Prediction: A fight with Rich Franklin would make sense

Mark Hunt
Well, who saw this coming? A couple of years ago, Hunt was the guy that Dana White wanted to pay to go away. Then he was the guy that Sean McCorkle beat. And now he's the winner of four straight, including three by crushing knockouts. His Saturday win over Stefan Struve vaulted him into the UFC's top 10, where he becomes a player. Nearly everyone else on that top 10 list is already matched up elsewhere, so Hunt is likely to have a wait until his return.
Prediction: He faces Roy Nelson, if Nelson beats Cheick Kongo at UFC 159

Yushin Okami
After losing two straight in 2011-'12, it seemed that Okami might slip away from relevance, but instead he's put together three wins in a row, including back-to-back victories over respected veterans Alan Belcher and Lombard. That may take him straight into a holding pattern. A rematch with Silva isn't in the offing yet, and other contenders like Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold and Constantinos Philippou are already matched up elsewhere.
Prediction: He faces Michael Bisping, if Bisping beats Alan Belcher at UFC 159. And by the way, if Bisping loses, a Bisping-Lombard fight would be my pick.

Dong Hyun Kim
Kim is quietly one of the most underrated fighters on the UFC roster. He's 8-2 with 1 no contest since the start of his run with the promotion, and one of his losses came as the result of a freak injury that occurred during a fight. The lack of fanfare is likely due to his grind-'em-out style, as Kim's offense is largely reliant on takedowns and groundwork. Still, with wins over names including Matt Brown, Nate Diaz, Paulo Thiago and now, Siyar Bahadurzada, no one can deny he's good at what he does.
Prediction: Erick Silva seems like a fair matchup

Diego Sanchez
After a year away and an attempted move down to the lightweight division (he missed weight by two pounds), Sanchez wasn't his old self in terms of style. He was much more measured and cautious, a style that should extend his shelf life. According to the FightMetric stats, he was actually out-struck by Gomi during their three-rounder. Despite that, the judges saw it Sanchez's way. Sanchez will no doubt have to be better next time out, but now that he's shaken off the ring rust, his next task is to shed the excess weight and continue his reinvention.
Prediction: He faces the winner of UFC on FX 8's Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham fight

Takanori Gomi
Despite fighting on his home soil, Gomi watched a close decision go to his opponent. The loss made him 3-4 since coming to the UFC in 2010. At 34, Gomi occasionally shows glimpses of his old "Fireball Kid" self, but they seem to be fewer and more far in between.
Prediction: He faces fellow veteran Yves Edwards