By Dwight Wakabayashi
Lightweight Anthony Pettis made the biggest gain possible this weekend at UFC on FOX 6 as he may have punched his ticket to a title shot with a first-round TKO victory over contender Donald Cerrone. Pettis landed a devastating liver kick early in fight and Cerrone crumpled to the ground in a ball and the referee halted the bout without Pettis needing any follow up finish.
Here’s a look at which UFC on FOX 6 main card fighters are rising and which are falling.
Anthony Pettis – All-time high
Few expected Pettis to finish Cerrone so early, but a quick switch to the southpaw stance early in the fight opened up many opportunities on Cerrone and Pettis took full advantage. His kicks are the most feared in the division and with the possible exception of Anderson Silva, the entire UFC.
Pettis can get you high and low with his legs in the blink of an eye and he also threw a flying knee off the fence to reveal another trick in his diverse bag. He has boosted his stock to the highest level it has been in his career, and he may be able to cash it in for a shot at the title against the winner of April’s Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez.
Ricardo Lamas – Rising fast
Lamas has been on a rocket up the featherweight ranks in the past year and this was his chance to leapfrog the highly touted favourite Erik Koch. It was a very good and tight fight until Lamas caught Koch in a very tough position in the second round. The way that Lamas took advantage of that position and swarmed Koch for the finish showed that he is on a mission to get to the very top of the division.
Lamas jumps over Koch and should get a No. 1 contender fight with Chan Sung Jung or Chad Mendes for his next test. He could even get the loser of Aldo-Edgar.
Demetrious Johnson – Slight gain
It was expected that Demetrious Johnson would retain his flyweight title after his fight with John Dodson, but what he had to go through to do it gives his overall stock a little boost. Dodson tested Johnson early and rocked him on a few occasions to put the outcome in doubt. It looked like Johnson may have met his speed match early and he was having a tough time getting a hold of Dodson.
Johnson had to persevere and dig deep to figure Dodson out and turn the tide of the fight. He did that in the later stages and used his conditioning and will to finally take control. It was Johnson’s toughest test at flyweight to date and he proved his championship heart with the win.
John Dodson – Slight gain
Dodson gave the champ everything he could handle on Saturday and he raises his stock slightly in the process. It is tough to make a large gain in a loss but Dodson made many believers with his performance against Johnson. He controlled the bout early using his power to stun the champ and he clearly took the lead in the fight. Dodson’s athletic ability and takedown defence is incredible and he packs a lot of power when he unleashes his strikes.
This fight showed that even at such a young stage in his career, he belongs right at the top with the best in the division. I can’t see many flyweights beating Dodson, and would not be surprised if he gets a rematch before the end of the year.
Glover Teixeira – Holding
The Brazilian put in a solid performance in his decision win over Quinton (Rampage) Jackson and puts a nice name on his resume in the process. Combine the fact that Rampage is past his prime and not very dedicated anymore with the fact that Glover did not get the finish, and the win is not a big gain. Teixeira is very highly touted, and his stock may be a bit too high already, so his win over Rampage does not change his stock in my eyes.
It doesn’t decline at all though, staying right where it was before the fight. Teixeira needs a top light heavyweight like Ryan Bader or Phil Davis next.
Erik Koch – Slight fall
Koch gets a bit of a break here based on the long time he was away from the cage and the fact that he fought a nice fight until one mistake spelled the end of his night. Fourteen months is a long time away to then come in to a contender fight but Koch performed admirably. He was the slight favourite coming in and was pegged to fight for the title last year before injuries forced him out twice. This loss hurts his stock slightly and knocks him below Lamas in the rankings, but his performance was enough to keep him in the biggest fights in the division. A fight with Hatsu Hioki next seems to make sense.
Quinton Jackson – Falling fast
An unhappiness and lack of dedication to training already had Jackson’s stock in a fall and this fight did nothing to level off that decline. It was the last fight on his UFC contract and all indications point to Rampage leaving the promotion for good. It is an unfortunate way to go out, although he didn’t get knocked out like so many other fading stars have in recent times.
Rampage is clearly on the downside of his long and entertaining career and he simply cannot win against the best in the world without his head being right for the battle. Who knows what’s next for Jackson, but I think he wants to finish his career in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Donald Cerrone – Falling fast
Cerrone’s stock took the biggest hit this weekend with his first-round TKO loss to Anthony Pettis. Many people picked Cerrone to win that fight and establish himself as the true No. 1 contender to the lightweight crown. He missed big time by going out to a liver shot early in the fight, marking the second time in just over a year that he has lost a golden opportunity. Cerrone lost badly to Nate Diaz in December 2011, and seems to fail under the brightest of lights.
It’s not the fact that Cerrone loses, it is how badly he loses that puts his stock in a free fall. Cerrone may be a good guy to welcome in one of the top newcomers like Josh Thomson or Eddie Alvarez, or a rematch with Nate Diaz could be the motivation he needs to once again get back on track.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.