Surprises and Disappointments is a column featured on MMAOddsbreaker.com after every UFC event, highlighting three fighters who had surprising performances and three fighters who disappointed. Here were the three biggest surprises and the three biggest disappointments from UFC Fight Night 53. Surprises Mike Wilkinson — No one was giving Mike Wilkinson a shot but the Brit didn’t care what the odds said as he brutally knocked out top prospect Niklas Backstrom in the first round. Backstrom went to throw a front kick but Wilkinson slipped it and landed a brutal overhand counter right to put his opponent on the mat and then pounded him out for the W. Wilkinson is now 2-1 in the UFC and will likely get a showcase fight in Europe in his next fight — he deserves it. Charles Rosa — The UFC called him with just a week to go until the event, but that didn’t stop Charles Rosa from having a solid UFC debut against a top opponent in Dennis Siver. Although he did lose every round of the fight, Rosa was highly competitive throughout the 15 minutes and I have to wonder how good he would have looked with a full training camp. Still, he made a bunch of new fans with the Fight of the Night performance, including myself, and I can’t wait to see him back in the Octagon again. Zubaira Tukhugov — I knew that Zubaira Tukhugov had good striking, but I figured Ernest Chavez would be tough enough to survive his onslaught. I was wrong. Tukhugov showed off an impressive striking arsenal and smashed Chavez en route to an easy day at the office as he scored a first-round knockout. Tukhugov is now 2-0 in the UFC and deserves to fight a better fighter in his next fight. And I’ll certainly have my eye on him for a bet depending on who the UFC matches him up with. Disappointments Gunnar Nelson — Most expected Gunnar Nelson to steamroll Rick Story, but the opposite occurred as Nelson was outstruck throughout the majority of five rounds as he lost a split decision in the main event of UFC FN 53. I really don’t know how any judge scored this for Nelson, because, quite frankly, he got his lunch taken from his by Story. Nelson’s inability to keep his hands up and block his face hurt him badly in this fight, and his wrestling wasn’t effective. Nelson is a great talent, but if he wants to win a UFC title he needs to drop to 155lbs, where he’ll fare better in terms of size. Ilir Latifi — I was one of the few leading the Ilir Latifi hype train but after seeing Jan Blachowicz knock him out with a first-round body kick, I’m definitely weary about Latifi going forward. Who knows what would have happened had the fight went longer, but from what I saw Latifi is going to have problems dealing with bigger light heavyweights like Blachowicz going forward. If he can lose some muscle, maybe he should think about dropping to 185 where he would be at least in contention for a top 15 spot. Because at 205lbs, I don’t see Latifi beating anyone in the upper echelon. He’s just too short. Scott Askham — In a middleweight matchup, Scott Askham failed to win in his UFC debut as he was outwrestled by Magnus Cedenblad en route to a unanimous decision loss. Askham had a lot of fight going into the fight, and he nearly won it in the second round after he rocked Cedenblad with a front kick, but he showed poor takedown defence in the fight and lost two of the three rounds. I think Askham has potential still, but I’m not as high on him as I was before the fight after seeing how easily he was planted on his back.
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