(In retrospect, eating that gallon of chili before the fight was probably a bad idea. / Photo courtesy of MMA Fighting.)
Sorry for the delay on this one, dear readers — the Potato Index was waiting on its customary bribe from the UFC before it could give favorable rankings to the fighters at "Rampage vs. Evans." Now that the check has cleared, we’re ready to roll. So who went from zero to hero? And who went from classy to gassy?
Rashad Evans +125
Sugar’s measured, wrestling-based gameplan didn’t exactly transform the haters into fans, but he achieved something a lot more important — he beat an arch-rival and stayed relevant. Rampage can keep his legion of devotees; Rashad is getting a title shot against Shogun, so eat it.
Quinton Jackson -150
Except for his brief blast in the third round, Quinton was just too slow and too predictable. Ring rust was obviously an issue; still, we’re more concerned about Jackson’s ongoing unwillingness to do anything other than box. Those who don’t evolve in this sport are destined to get their asses dug by hungrier competitors. Rampage’s days as an elite light-heavyweight may be numbered.
Michael Bisping +15
The Count put in another solid striking performance, but it was a fight he was supposed to win, and he didn’t really do anything to wow us. He may want to get back in with the elites of the middleweight division, but he’s still not quite ready.
Dan Miller -120
One of the most dramatic declines in recent UFC history — Miller followed up three great wins with unanimous decision losses in three completely forgettable fights, and has given the UFC no real reason to keep him around. A few tune-up matches outside of the big leagues would probably help him regain his fire.
Mike Russow +200
A head like a cinderblock and a gut like a sack of tapioca. Pretty or not, his win over hyped-up monster Todd Duffee proved Russow’s status as a tough, experienced S.O.B. who always gets the job done. Can we set up Russow vs. Roy Nelson for overweight champion of the world?
Todd Duffee -285
If he had a better gas tank, he would have finished Russow in round 2. If he had a better gas tank, maybe he would have avoided that knockout punch in round 3. Duffman, the lesson here is obvious. Now that you know what the third round feels like, it’s time to start preparing for it.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira -140
Lil’ Nog may have won on paper, but the Potato Index was not impressed. Top ten light-heavyweights aren’t supposed to get handled by obscure late replacements. Nogueira needs to shore up his takedown defense before other opponents can exploit it.
Jason Brilz +400
Any brave idiot can step up and take a fight against a minor legend on three weeks’ notice. It takes a special kind of hustle to out-work that legend in all areas of the fight. Besides his successful takedowns, Brilz nearly submitted Nogueira (!), and was even able to wobble the skilled boxer with his standup. Forget the scoring outcome from those poopoo-headed judges — Brilz just used Lil’ Nog as a stepping stone.
John Hathaway +400
Speaking of fighters who made their names on Saturday, how ’bout this John Hathaway kid? England’s new hope rose to the occasion against a semi-doughy Diego Sanchez, and used his counter-punching, takedown defense, and GnP to ride to a comfortable decision. As with Russow and Brilz, it was the kind of performance that makes you immediately interested in what he’ll do next. Hathaway is now 13-0 (4-0 in the UFC), and he definitely deserves to fight another well-known contender.
Diego Sanchez -190
Moving back up in weight class is apparently not as simple as just gaining weight. Sanchez looked soft and tiny compared to Hathaway. His build suggested that he was either not taking training seriously, or wasn’t taking Hathaway seriously, or both. If Sanchez wants fans to continue caring about him, he’ll move back down to 155 and give Kenny Florian the rematch Ken-Flo deserves.
Dong Hyun Kim +105
Okay, so it wasn’t the most thrilling fight. But Kim’s grappling impressed me, and if there was a lack of action it was because Amir Sadollah was doing all he could to prevent Kim from submitting or smashing him from the top. With improvement, "Stun Gun" could be a legitimate factor in the welterweight division.
Amir Sadollah -85
Eh, whaddya gonna do. At least you still have your wry sense of humor and your position as host of a talk show that airs between commercials on The Ultimate Fighter.
Efrain Escudero +20
I was almost positive that Effy was going to finish this fight early. If he tried some takedowns and ground-and-pound, maybe he could have. Was Escudero playing it cautious after taking the first loss of his career in Janaury? Was he just taking it easy on an old friend? It’s a win, but not one that does much for his career trajectory.
Dan Lauzon -whocares
Lauzon drops to 0-3 lifetime in the UFC, and will probably be joining Dan Miller in the bread-line. The Upgrade gassed early, never looked particularly sharp, and pretty much proved every bad thing said about his motivation level. Some guys want to be a fighter without really being a fighter, y’dig?