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Bisping again falls at last hurdle

The first full MMA weekend of 2013 came and went, indicating several directions in which the year may unfold in the cage.

Old dogs (or young dinosaurs, or whatever it is Vitor Belfort wants to call himself these days) still have their tricks. Startling prospects will continue to emerge. And Zuffa, with its embarrassment of riches, has so many compelling fights to make over the next 12 months it'll be trying (and also fun) to play matchmaker and keep up with it all.

Before we get to the winners, a note on the biggest loser. Saturday's UFC card in Sao Paulo, Brazil, killed the idea that Michael Bisping can be a serious challenger at the top of the middleweight division.

The fact is, when he runs up against more explosive fighters who manage to avoid imploding, he loses. Add Belfort to a list that includes Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans. That is the threshold Bisping, 33, cannot seem to clear, leaving him somewhere between gatekeeper and contender. I'm curious to see how he'll cope.

And so the churning cycle of the UFC continues.