Winner's Circle: What victory means for UFC Fight Night 43 & 44's featured fighters


What does a victory mean for James Te Huna, Nate Marquardt, Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens this upcoming weekend in their respective fights taking place in New Zealand and Texas? We explore the consequences below, ahead of their tussles at UFC Fight Night 43 and Fight Night 44, respectively.

Get ready for another double-header weekend full of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) battles in two different continents.

Don't act so thrilled.

After an exhaustive Saturday in May saw UFC Fight Night 41 and The Ultimate Fighter: "Brazil 3" Finale take place just hours apart from each other, the mixed martial arts (MMA) giant is at it again with two events scheduled for this upcoming weekend (Sat., June 28, 2014).

UFC Fight Pass subscribers will get to watch UFC Fight Night 43: "Te Huna vs. Marquardt," taking place from inside Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, and nocturnal North Americans have the pleasure of watching James Te Huna duke it out against Nate Marquardt in the main event.

Both middleweight competitors are a combined 0-5 in their most recent bouts, proving that sometimes, it's very difficult to be enthusiastic about every fight card being thrown in our direction.

After a hefty nap, the action resumes on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) for UFC Fight Night 44: "Swanson vs. Stephens," broadcast from AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, featuring a much better main event involving Cub Swanson against Jeremy Stephens.

Let us look into the near future and map out what a victory might mean for these four main event fighters.

UFC Fight Night 43 (Auckland)

James Te Huna

It's extremely difficult to envision Te Huna in a main event in regards to how his UFC career has shaped up. His promotional record of 5-3 isn't terrible, yet his past two performances in the Octagon weren't something you'd expect from a headliner.

Glover Teixeira used him as a stepping-stone at UFC 160 in order to acquire a future title shot, and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua torched him at UFC Fight Night 33 in Australia. There's no reason as to why he should be in the main event.

On the flip side, he's the first New Zealander to ever compete in the Octagon, but that isn't a good reason to have him leading the pack. A spot on the main card would have been more than enough.

He's not a big star, he won't get another main event spot on a future pay-per-view (PPV) card, and he's surely not going to get a top-five opponent, even if he gets past his American counterpart.

A win in front of his hometown fans and a hefty bonus would be sufficient for him, and ultimately, all he deserves.

Nate Marquardt

Having recently celebrated his 15th anniversary in the sport, at least Marquardt was on the big stage before. He was a Pancrase middleweight champion, a Strikeforce welterweight titleholder, and a UFC middleweight contender who eventually lost to Anderson Silva.

The past couple of years haven't been too kind to Marquardt, which include three consecutive losses in 2013 alone. Besides his 3-5 record since losing a title eliminator bout to Chael Sonnen in 2010, "The Great" has looked anything but, suffering two knockout losses in his past two fights.

Marquardt has a bit more upside compared to his opponent, solely because he's a recognizable name among not only the diehards, but the casual fans, too. He's a longtime veteran who can still raise awareness when his name is seen on a fight card, and if he can score a finish this weekend, it does wonders for his confidence and his place on the roster.

Although he's arguably more susceptible to the ax than Te Huna if he loses. A third loss -- especially one by knockout or submission -- could signal the end of his second UFC stint.

UFC Fight Night 44 (San Antonio)

Cub Swanson

Onto someone who finally deserves a main event spot ...

To say Swanson is revitalized would be an understatement of epic proportions. The former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) three-time "Fight of the Night" recipient has only lost once in UFC. He's currently riding a five-fight winning streak in the featherweight division, stopping four of those opponents courtesy of punches.

If all goes well in Texas, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter either gets a crack at the title, providing there is a clear-cut winner when Jose Aldo collides against Chad Mendes, or finds himself battling Frankie Edgar in the Octagon if the former lightweight champion gets past BJ Penn.

Those are the only two options that make sense for Swanson, who is in similar position to Matt Brown at welterweight. If a competitor is destroying most of the mid-level talent in their respective weight class, all that's left is a number one contender contest, or a bout for the belt itself.

This is "Cub's" time to rise above, and show the world what he's capable of. If not, a loss steers his championship hopes right off the rails.

Jeremy Stephens

In seven years, "Lil' Heathen" has participated in 18 UFC bouts. The hard-nosed, gritty veteran had some memorable performances inside the cage, and also some boggling ones when you think about the competition he's lost to.

He dropped down to featherweight following the worst run of his career, which saw him lose to Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, and Yves Edwards. He's mustered up three wins following those unfortunate performances, including a scorching head kick knockout over Rony Jason at UFC Fight Night 32.

Stephens won't be pampered with a win, nor will he obtain the superstar treatment, but knocking off Swanson could lead to some greener pastures. In other words, he can steal his foe's thunder when it comes to the featherweight pecking order.

An immediate title shot may not be in the cards, but maybe the California resident gets his title eliminator bout, or a fight against one of the better 145 pounders in the world. Whatever the case may be, the future could be promising for Stephens if he can get the job done.

Losing would hurt but still keep Stephens relatively safe. However, after seven years in the promotion and three "Knockout of the Night" bonuses, something has got to give if he wants to keep chasing the gold.

There you have it.

Check out the finalized cards for UFC Fight Night 43 and Fight Night 44, including bout order and set times, here and here.

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