UFC on FX 4: Which Fighter Has the Most to Lose?
As with every UFC event, there's a handful of fighters fans could pick from as having the most to lose. The UFC on FX 4 card is no different in that a number of fighters are taking big risks.
Gray Maynard is attempting to look for another title shot, Dustin Pague is stepping in on short notice and Hatsu Hioki is relegated to a preliminary card.
Normally when I've wrote these sort of pieces before, I usually pick one fighter from the card who stands to lose the most. However, this time, I'm going to cheat a little.
But there's no need to complain as you, the reader, get a little extra for your time as I've chosen two fighters who equally stand to lose the most on the UFC on FX 4 event. Of all the fighters competing on the card, these two men, by far, stand to lose the most should they see their opponent's hand raised.
The consensus No. 2-ranked featherweight in the world, Hatsu Hioki has put together back-to-back wins in two UFC appearances. His first outing was a bit rocky, but Hioki righted the ship in his appearance at UFC 144.
Hioki put on a grappling clinic against Bart Palaszewski in a dominant decision victory. After winning two in a row, many fans expected Hioki to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title. Hioki, in a shocking turn of events, turned down the offer and now fights on a preliminary card on a free show.
Hioki is essentially in a no-win situation. A win does nothing for the Japanese star, and a loss would be devastating. Hioki is already a relative unknown to North American fans, despite his ranking near the top of the featherweight elite.
Putting him on the preliminary card won't help his exposure to fans, and wins over George Roop, Palaszewski and Ricardo Lamas aren't exactly the best victories to sell to a title challenger. Hioki needs to fight a top contender on a major event in order to secure the North American fans to support him in a title bout.
That's only if he can get past Lamas, which is, by no means, a guarantee. Lamas has yet to lose at 145 pounds and stopped the very durable Cub Swanson in his last UFC appearance.
Hioki not only has a difficult fight that won't do him much good if he wins, but could see his place in the featherweight rankings drop like the stock market in 1929 with a loss.
Hatsu Hioki isn't the only fighter who could see his title aspirations slip away with a poor performance. Gray "The Bully" Maynard is coming off two of the most entertaining bouts not only in UFC history, but MMA history as well.
He put on a dominant showing in the first rounds of both his fights against Frankie Edgar at UFC 125 and UFC 136. Maynard was unable to put Edgar away and was visibly gassed in the second meeting. Edgar made a miracle comeback to force a draw at UFC 125 and stormed back to finish Maynard in the fourth round at UFC 136.
Following the loss to Edgar, Maynard embarked on a journey to find a new home as he left Xtreme Couture. His travels brought him to the prestigious Nova Uniao camp and finally to American Kickboxing Academy.
Maynard is set to debut the "new" version of himself after finding new coaches, new training partners and, hopefully, a new way to fight. Although nearly every other fighter would've been rewarded with a victory given the beating Maynard put on Edgar, "The Bully" was forced to recover and chase Edgar around the Octagon for another four rounds.
It won't be an easy comeback fight for Maynard either, as he faces another nonstop fighter in Clay Guida. Guida has been on the cusp of becoming a title contender for years but hasn't beaten that "big name" to break through gatekeeper status.
If Maynard can't overcome Guida's high-octane offense, he won't only see his chances of achieving vindication against Edgar escape his grasp, but also his title hopes as well.
The lightweight division is as stacked as ever with title challengers coming and going with each event. Maynard not only needs to win, but win impressively. Anything less than that, and we may see Maynard slip behind Anthony Pettis for a UFC title shot.
If Maynard loses to Guida, you can almost be certain a title shot will be years down the line for Maynard. Despite being a talented fighter, he's not exactly what you would call a fan favorite. He doesn't have an outgoing personality and has been called a boring fighter on numerous occasions.
Without fan support, Maynard will be hopeless for a bout against Edgar or another title shot. He stands to lose a lot if he not only loses, but doesn't win in impressive fashion.