To fight for the belt means you're the best of the best—one of the world's most elite mixed martial artists. Fighters can compete for years, a whole career even, without ever once battling with the world title on the line. That makes each and every shot at the belt something incredibly special. Few people get even one opportunity, so it's important to make the most of it.
It's a worthy goal—but not one that follows any particular script. Fighters, frankly, have no idea if they are close to earning a title bout. The UFC has no athletic architecture, at least not when compared to other mainstream sports. There are no series of tournaments, no playoffs, nothing a fighter can do to ensure a shot besides win, entertain and pray.
There isn't even a formal rankings system. Even boxing has a variety of official rankings to help decide who gets important bouts (although this system is laughably corrupt). The UFC lacks that much organization. Who is the top contender in any given weight class? No one knows! Title shots are granted with commercial relevance considered almost as important as wins and losses.
Despite that lack of structure, veteran MMA reporters and fans have a pretty good feel for who's on the brink of a title fight—part math, part instinct.
Who is one win away from a UFC title shot? We share our picks in the video. Let us know what you think in the comments below.