Tomorrow night, the UFC on Fox 3 brings us some big matchups. There are two title-shots on the line as well as intriguing battles in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. Let's take a look at the fighters who can't afford to lose.
Alan Belcher is a battle-tested middleweight who should currently be riding a six fight winning streak, were it not for an incorrect decision against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100. Belcher has an inspiring tale of courage, as a detached retina nearly cost him his vision and his career back in August 2010. His bout with Rousimar Palhares is his second Octagon trip since returning from the injury. A loss will blow him off of the comeback trail.
Belcher may lose more than the fight if his opponent secures one of his signature leg locks. Palhares has failed to release a submission in the past, and if he repeats the offense tomorrow night, Belcher could lose the use of his leg.
And how about former title contender Josh Koscheck? Kos was thoroughly dominated by champion Georges St. Pierre in such a way, that he likely won't get another shot at the title without an incredible string of wins. At 34 years old, a loss for Koscheck will send him plummeting out of the rankings and cause him to start from scratch. If winning a championship is his career goal, failure tomorrow could signify the end of his chase.
Another fighter who has a lot to lose is Ultimate Fighter winner Nate Diaz. After last year's back-to-back wins over legendary Takanori Gomi and the white-hot Donald Cerrone, tomorrow night's contest against Jim Miller is an important test against a dangerous submission specialist.
Dana White stated that a win for Diaz will secure him a shot at the UFC lightweight championship. When you consider that Jim Miller and George Sotiropoulos secured seven consecutive wins without getting their shot at gold, the fact that Diaz can earn a "cut the line" pass with only three consecutive wins is an amazing opportunity. If he comes up short tomorrow night, his last two impressive performances will have been for naught.
The fighter with the most to lose, though, has got to be Johny Hendricks. Coming off of a 12 second KO win over perennial contender Jon Fitch, Hendricks is fighting for two things tomorrow night: a title shot, and to prove that he is not a fluke.
A loss tomorrow to former title-contender Josh Koscheck will send Hendricks out of contention, and likely convince fans of revisionist history that he was never a threat in the first place. With tremendous wrestling credentials and one-punch KO power, that certainly isn't the case, but it's not a mentality that he can afford for fight fans to adopt.
All of these fighters are featured on the main card of UFC on FOX 3, which airs tomorrow night at 8pm.
Don't forget to check out this story's companion article: