The Stock Report: Big rise for Russian

Khabib Nurmagomedov is 20-0 in MMA. (AP/Andre Penner)
January 22, 2013, 9:02 AM

By Dwight Wakabayashi

The Stock Report lets you know which fighters are rising and which are falling following the weekend’s events.

This installment looks at the main card of the first UFC event of 2013, Saturday’s show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Vitor Belfort – Rising

Belfort got the chance to re-establish himself as a top contender in the 185-pound division and he took full advantage. Not many expected him to take out Bisping like he did and with that finish, his stock is again on the rise.

Who knows where Belfort will go from here but another title shot is now a real possibility. It will most likely come at light heavyweight against Jon Jones as opposed to middleweight against Anderson Silva. If Belfort really wants another shot at Jones, he may have to earn it with a fight against someone like Chael Sonnen if he loses, or Lyoto Machida.

Michael Bisping – Falling fast

Bisping has been on the cusp of a title shot and failed to seal the deal a few times now, and this loss sends him in a bit of a free fall since he is now a fighter stuck in the middle between the best and the rest of the mixed martial arts game.

Bisping can beat everyone but the No. 1 contender and the champion and that does not bode well for big fights that draw fan interest in the future. It’s not so much that he lost to the Brazilian legend, it’s how he lost and now the future is murky for The Count.

He is popular and will always draw fan interest, but the relevance of his future fights will never be the same.

CB Dollaway – Holding

Dollaway fought fellow former TUF contestant Daniel Sarafian and had to battle hard to overcome a slow start to persevere and pull out the win. The fact that Dollaway was able to grind out the win keeps him holding his place in the division.

Sarafian was making his debut and Dollaway narrowly edged him out. Ultimately, he should be further ahead in his career and therefore his stock doesn’t go up with this win.

Daniel Sarafian – Slightly rising

Sarafian lost in his debut to Dollaway but he certainly showed enough to put his stock on the rise against the much bigger foe. It turned out to be one of the better fights on the night and he hung in there with a fighter with much more UFC experience than he has.

He really had nowhere to go but up, but to boost your stock in a loss is a tough thing to do, and people now know that Daniel Sarafian belongs.

Gabriel Gonzaga – Slightly rising

It was tough to say which up-and-down heavyweight would come out on top in the fight between Gonzaga and Rothwell and I had the younger, hungrier Rothwell taking the day in a close one. Turns out, the fight really wasn’t that close at all and Gonzaga tapped Rothwell out with a standing guillotine choke early in the second round.

While it doesn’t immediately thrust Gonzaga back into the mix with the top contenders, it does set his stock on a slight rise and announce that a bit of resurgence is on hand.

Ben Rothwell – Falling fast

I thought Ben Rothwell had learned some valuable lessons and was ready to separate himself from the middle of the pack this past weekend with an emphatic win over Gonzaga. I couldn’t have been more wrong as a slow and lethargic Rothwell got submitted pretty easily by an aging, mediocre heavyweight.

You only get so many chances in the UFC and Rothwell just can’t seem to string together a consistent run. Leaner was definitely not meaner when it came down to it, and the new version of Rothwell looked drawn and as sluggish as ever. He may get one more chance to save his job later this year.

Khabib Nurmagomedov – Rising fast

Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov made a statement against established lightweight Thiago Tavares with a fast and memorable victory in hostile territory. The pre-fight poke at jiu-jitsu and barrage of vicious elbows sent his stock soaring among fans and UFC brass, and Khabib should get a large step up in his next fight.

While not considered a title contender, Tavares can hang in the mix with almost anyone in the division and Khabib took him out in two short minutes. Look for him to get a fight against someone like Edson Barboza or Abel Trujilo in the near future.

Thiago Tavares – Falling

Tavares had some solid momentum going in with two hard fought victories against Spencer Fisher and Sam Stout, but Khabib put a sudden halt to that flow. The quick loss is devastating to any climb he had in mind in 2013 and sets his stock back into a tumble heading in to his next fight.

He is another solid run-of-the-mill lightweight who needs a win streak to make any type of headway up to the sharks of the division. Unfortunately, it’s back to square one for the Brazilian.


Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.

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