UFC 141: Power Ranking Brock Lesnar, 9 Other Main Card Fighters
Come Friday, the UFC returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, where a heavyweight blockbuster battle will take place.
Former UFC champion Brock Lesnar takes on Strikeforce import Alistair Overeem where the winner will vie for the title, which is currently held by Brazilian slugger Junior dos Santos.
Though Overeem and Lesnar will likely eclipse the event, there are a number of other fighters on the rise who could soon find themselves in the discussion for contender status in their respective divisions.
An undefeated Pennsylvania native, Jimy Hettes arrived in the UFC in emphatic fashion when he took on the wily Alex Caceres in his Octagon debut.
The undefeated featherweight proved formidable in his relentless pursuit for the takedown, eventually earning the rear-naked choke finish inside of the second round.
Hettes will look to make it 10-0 against Phan, where an impressive victory will propel him up the 145-pound ranks.
Season 12 semi-finalist of The Ultimate Fighter, Nam Phan may be unassuming but he's nobody to be messed with.
After going 0-2 in his first two battles inside the Octagon, Phan came back with a vengeance when he took on rival Leonard Garcia for a second time.
Their first battle was mired in controversy, though Phan put all those questions to rest when he earned the decision victory this September in a "Fight of the Night" worthy performance.
A victory over a young up-and-comer like Hettes will make Phan a relevant figure in the 145-pound class.
The once beaten welterweight is the ultimate threat: a dangerous, heavy handed striker who hails from a successful collegiate wrestling background.
A former two-time NCAA Division I champion, Hendricks is currently riding a two-fight win streak and will look to play the role of spoiler when he takes on perennial contender Jon Fitch.
If Hendricks can best Fitch, he would be only the second man to hold that distinction in the UFC, with champion Georges St-Pierre being the only other man.
Though he's reached the age of 40, Matyushenko has now reached the pinnacle of his career.
After being dominated by current UFC champion Jon Jones in August of last year, Matyushenko has now rattled off a two-fight win streak, finishing both Alexandre Ferreira and Jason Brilz on strikes, totaling less than three minutes of action combined.
The former IFL champion will soon look to make it three in a row when he takes on rising star Alexander Gustafsson.
After going 1-1 in his first two outings inside the Octagon, Gustafsson has now made the case for himself as a budding contender in the talent laden 205-pound field.
The Swede is riding a three-fight win streak which culminated in a decisive second round TKO victory over former contender and The Ultimate Fighter veteran in Matt Hamill.
Victories over Jared Hamman, James Te-Huna and Pride veteran Cyrille Diabate all anchor the impressive resume that Gustafsson has been able to procure whilst in the UFC.
Season 5 winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Nate Diaz has returned to the division where he's always belonged.
A former top contender in the 155-pound class, Diaz exited the weight class after dropping three of four fights, moving up to the welterweight division. There, the Stockton native again emerge as a budding contender with impressive victories over Rory Markham and Marcus Davis.
After succumbing to decision losses against contenders Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald, Diaz returned to the lightweight division when he took on former Pride champion Takanori Gomi this September.
In the most emphatic performance of his career, Diaz out-boxed the heavy handed striker, dropping him early with a counter left hook. A few moments later, the Cesar Gracie brown belt eventually cinched up the armbar finish inside of the first round.
A perennial contender in the welterweight class, Fitch will be looking to make a memorable return to the cage this Friday when he meets with Johny Hendricks.
Since a decision loss to champion Georges St-Pierre, Fitch has remained undefeated in his last six bouts, earning victories over Ben Saunders, Paulo Thiago and Thiago Alves along the way.
In his last outing, Fitch went to a contentious draw with former two-time world champion B.J. Penn and has since been sidelined due to injury ever since.
While Jon Jones has had a banner 2011, Donald Cerrone has quietly been rivaling his Greg Jackson teammate.
"Cowboy" is already 4-0 in the UFC, first making his Octagon debut this February when he submitted veteran Paul Kelly, earning "Submission of the Night" in the process.
Cerrone nabbed another bonus when he bested perennial contender Dennis Siver, rocking and dropping the heavy-handed German twice before cinching up another rear-naked choke, eliciting the tap in just over two minutes of action.
Should Cerrone proved successful against Diaz, that would make him 5-0 in the UFC, all within the first year spent inside the juggernaut mixed martial arts promotion.
This Friday marks the highly anticipated return of Brock Lesnar.
The former UFC heavyweight champion has been sidelined thanks to his second battle with diverticulitis.
After invasive surgery and several months of recuperation, Lesnar is back in form and will look to immediately inject himself back into the mix with a victory over Alistair Overeem.
The pay-per-view kingpin is back.
One of the most accomplished men in the mixed martial arts game, the only thing that is missing from Overeem's mantle is a UFC title.
The former K-1 World Grand Prix champion is the only man to hold the belt concurrently with several MMA titles, including the Dream and Strikeforce straps.
In his last outing, Overeem took a decision victory rival Fabricio Werdum, whom submitted the Dutchman several years ago while the two were under the Pride banner.
Undefeated in his last 11 bouts, if Overeem can get past Lesnar Friday, he will have secured his shot at the UFC title opposite of champion Junior dos Santos.