After every UFC event I will post 3 fighters that are on the rise or continue to rise in the UFC and 3 that are slowly declining or in trouble of losing their roster spot. UFC 126 was a great event and 6 fighters stood out.
Anderson Silva: If he isn't the pound for pound best fighter in the world something is seriously wrong. Silva took care of Vitor Belfort just under 2 minutes to retain his Middleweight Championship and in stylish fashion. Silva released a deadly front kick, which he supposedly learned from Steven Seagal and connected to Belfort's chin. It was a quick ending to a solid matchup that many said Belfort had a great chance to take the title. However that was not to be and Silva retained his Championship. Next on Silva's plate could be George St. Pierre and until GSP faces Jake Shields Silva could be idle. Silva now holds the record with defending his title 8 straight times. The Spider has impressed many of what skills he possesses and maybe a body clone is the only one that could beat him.
Forrest Griffin: After being out of the Octagon for almost 2 years Griffin returned to the UFC and took on Rich Franklin. Many questions were asked about if the layoff would hurt him in this fight and Griffin debunked any of those comments. He controlled the pace throughout the entire fight and really landed some great jabs to the face of Franklin. Griffin did reveal after his fight he lost his best friend in the last year and his training had some bumps in the road as well. Either way with that win Griffin is looking to rise again in the Lightweight Division and recapture the one title he held back in 2008.
Jon Jones: Bones as the nickname every fan calls him, shot himself right into title contention after his victory against Ryan Bader. With the guillotine choke he slapped onto Bader in the final minute of round 2, he secured the victory and then came the title bout announcement. Joe Rogan jumped into the Octagon and surprised everybody that he would be the next one to fight Shogun Rua. Rashad Evans suffered a knee injury and had to pull out of the fight, while Rampage Jackson was offered the fight and declined. Jones at only 23 years of age is becoming one of the youngest and most popular fighters in the business and in 6 weeks we will see if Jones will make that next big step in his young career.
Rich Franklin: The man now known as the last person to fight Chuck Liddell, was noticeably hesitant while facing Forrest Griffin on Saturday. He looked very slow and didn't put much of an offensive push throughout the 3 rounds and it seemed like the arm he broke in the fight against Liddell was bothering him. The question is what is next for Franklin? With this loss could we see a Bader/Franklin fight? Both would be coming off a loss and both would want to look to get back into the title picture as quickly as possible. Ace struggled on Saturday; however you can never count out a guy who has over 25 wins in his MMA career.
Michihiro Omigawa: The legend of Dream Fights made his return to the UFC with a undercard fight against undefeated Chad Mendes. There was plenty of hype for the return of Omigawa but that slowly fizzled when Omigawa lost the standing battle. Omigawa did win 5 fights while in Dream and this signing loomed big for the UFC. It could have been nerves affecting him during that fight but with the return where does Omigawa go from here? Before 2 losses would eliminate you from the UFC but with the roster slowly gaining more members everyday it could be one and done in some cases. With Omigawa I don't see that happening but it will be interesting how he changes his game plan against a future opponent.
Vitor Belfort: With the fight against Anderson Silva being put off 2 times before happening at UFC 126, it looked like Vitor had a better chance to defeat him than Chael Sonnen. Former friends with Silva with both hailing from Brazil, Belfort had the chance to capture the Middleweight Championship but with another long layoff between his last fights. That time seemed to hamper him as he was not looking to be the aggressor in the fight. He did land some early punches but quickly circled to the left of Silva trying to avoid any flurry of punches. Silva took advantage of the hesitations and landed the front kick to end the fight. Belfort was looking to use his southpaw stance to offset the power of Silva and possibly make him change his game plan. The next fight could be a match-up with Chael Sonnen pending his legal and personal issues. Belfort may have gotten caught or it could have been Silva was way too much for his liking and his skills weren't sharp enough to stand with him.