The UFC has been on siesta for what seems like ages, but the company swings back into action soon with a pair of big events: UFC on Fuel 2 on April 14, which is the debut event in Sweden; and UFC 145 in Atlanta on April 21.
Several high-stakes bouts are on tap in these two events, with plenty to gain for the winners and plenty to lose for the vanquished. How much do the defeated stand to lose? Funny you should ask. Here are the five fighters who could take a serious tumble this month:
Jon Jones, UFC light heavyweight champion
His fight: defends title against Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 145
What's to lose: This one seems obvious, doesn't it? Jones is coming off what was considered by many the single greatest year by an MMA fighter in history. He's never been legitimately defeated. If he defeats Evans, he will complete an astonishing four-fight run of victories over men who previously held the light heavyweight title (along with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and Lyoto Machida). The stakes are high for Evans as well. But if Jones loses, it will be a disaster on three fronts: 1. He would have dropped a bout most expect him to win; 2. He'll find out how quickly the bandwagon empties when you fall from the top in MMA, and 3. Perhaps worst for his ego, he would have lost to his former friend-turned-enemy after more than a year of back-and-forth trash talk and hype.
Brendan Schaub, heavyweight
His fight: vs. Ben Rothwell, UFC 145
What's to lose: The "Ultimate Fighter 10" finalist had the look of a heavyweight contender in the making as he rang up four consecutive wins in 2010-11, with the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic on his resume. But he let his last fight, against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, get away from him, as he started strong and ended up losing via first-round knockout. In his only other career loss, he got sloppy and was knocked silly by Roy Nelson in the TUF 10 Finale. There seems to be a pattern developing. At UFC 145, Schaub meets veteran brawler Ben Rothwell, a fighter with 17 KO/TKO victories under his belt. He Rothwell also lost three of his past five bouts. A win would put Schaub squarely back in the "rising contender" camp, but another knockout loss would likely permanently take him off the fast track.
Miguel Torres, bantamweight
His fight: vs. Michael McDonald, UFC 145
What's to lose: There's no mistaking what this fight's all about: Torres, the fighter who brought the bantamweight division to mainstream consciousness during his reign as WEC champion in 2008-09, finds himself as the cagey veteran trying to stay relevant and maintain his star power. This bout places the former headliner on the FX preliminary card. The 21-year old McDonald is 14-1 with 12 stoppages, has won all four of his UFC/WEC bouts, and has avenged his only loss (to Cole Escovedo). A victory would give Torres four wins in his past five and put him back in the mix at 135 pounds. But a win for McDonald in front of a large basic cable television audience would mark him as one to watch. It would also brand Torres, for all the heart he's displayed over the years, as a fighter on the downside.
Brian Stann, middleweight
His fight: vs. Alessio Sakara, UFC on Fuel 2
What's to lose: The marketable Stann, quite simply, is being fed an opponent tailor-made for his strengths. "The All-American" lost momentum with his one-sided loss to Chael Sonnen in October. Though Stann has vastly improved as an all-around fighter since hooking up with Greg Jackson's camp, his heavy hands are still his bread and butter. And in Sakara, he's being matched with a wild, go-for-broke fighter who tends to either score a knockout or get knocked out … and as to the latter, he's been stopped by Chris Leben, Houston Alexander, and Drew McFedries. If Stann doesn't get the quick stoppage for which the bout is designed, the path back to contention at middleweight will be a long one.
Dennis Siver, featherweight
His fight: vs. Diego Nunes, UFC on Fuel 2
What's to lose: It wasn't that long ago that Siver was considered a real up-and-comer at 155 pounds. He went into his UFC 137 bout with Donald Cerrone the winner of four straight and nine of 10. But after a quick submission loss to Cerrone, Siver made the curious decision to drop to featherweight. Perhaps Siver felt that since the list of contenders to Jose Aldo's title is considerably shorter than the logjam at 155, the path to a title shot would be easier. But the move comes with substantial risk. His opponent, Nunes, is no pushover, with just one loss over the past two years, to Kenny Florian, and he's never lost by stoppage. While a victory over Nunes would put Siver on the short list at 145, a loss would leave him shove him down the pecking order of two separate divisions.
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