10 UFC Fighters That Need to Put Up or Shut Up

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2012

10 UFC Fighters That Need to Put Up or Shut Up

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    The UFC currently employs some of the most outspoken, confident and controversial fighters in the world.

    For these special acts, backing up every word they say is sometimes harder than actually winning fights.

    With that said, based on overall talent and future aspirations, here are 10 fighters who need to put up or shut up.

Donald Cerrone

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    Top lightweight contender Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone has been calling out budding star Anthony "Showtime" Pettis for far too long.

    The breaking point is going to come soon, and the cocky Cerrone better be ready to take on one of the most technical and explosive strikers in the division.

    Remember, last time Cerrone took on a fighter of that caliber, he got hit 238 times by Nate Diaz.

    Nothing is in the books yet for a showdown with the 25-year-old Pettis, but once it is, Cerrone better be prepared.

Forrest Griffin

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    Many people have sold Forrest Griffin down the river.

    They say he's an aging veteran on a steep decline or that he's always been an overrated pay-per-view cash crop, but as far as the UFC is concerned, Griffin still has plenty to offer.

    His last few fights may tell a different story, as he's been downright sluggish, but give the man his due.

    Griffin was part of the greatest fight of all time.  Fans will remember that until the day MMA rides into the sunset, but that still isn't going to give the 33-year-old too much time to tread water.

    If he doesn't put on a good show against Chael Sonnen at UFC 155, he'll have a tough time convincing anyone around the MMA community that he possesses the poise to rebound from his recent struggles.

Roy Nelson

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    Roy Nelson, better known as Dana White's arch-nemesis, has been making waves around the UFC for a couple of months now.

    His confidence has not only frustrated the heavy-hitting Shane Carwin, but it's pissed off the promotion's president.

    For Nelson, who's been questioned in the past for not training enough and not putting forth his best effort, stopping the hard-nosed Carwin would put an end to everything controversial.

    "Big Country" could surely make it happen due to his natural punching power, but he'll be facing a guy who possesses equal to greater strength.

    Good luck, Roy.

Chael Sonnen

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    Quite possibly the most controversial fighter in MMA history, Chael Sonnen will always make this list until he becomes champ.

    That quest begins with Forrest Griffin.

    If Sonnen can't get past a top-10 light heavyweight in his return to the division, he'll most likely be forced back down to middleweight.

    We all know who runs that weight class.

    Bottom line, destroying Griffin will launch "The American Gangster" into title contention where he can test his wrestling against a bigger and younger Anderson Silva.

Hector Lombard

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    Cuban-based powerhouse Hector Lombard was supposed to take the UFC middleweight division by storm.

    He was supposed to be able to use his raw power and natural finishing instincts to disrupt the very best fighters in the world.

    Well it didn't turn out so well for Lombard in his debut against a streaking Tim Boetsch at UFC 149.  The former Bellator champion only landed 26 strikes in a three-round split-decision loss.

    Now the 34-year-old may have been injured, but that doesn't offset the lackluster performance he displayed during his coming-out party.

    If Lombard truly wants to showcase his worth as a current title contender, he's going to have to start knocking some dudes out.

Rory MacDonald

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    Calling out MMA legend BJ Penn may not be such a smart move for a young fighter like Rory MacDonald, but we'll have to sit back and see if it actually pays off.

    The bout was originally scheduled for UFC 152, but a training camp injury to MacDonald pushed it back to UFC on FOX 5. 

    The fact of the matter is that the budding superstar has invested a whole lot of time into this fight.  If he fails, it's definitely going to set his championship hopes back.

    Penn hasn't fought in nearly a year, but that doesn't mean he won't be competing like his old self when the two meet in December.

    So considering the 23-year-old went out of his way to challenge one of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time on Twitter, it's easy to say that the spotlight has been turned on.

BJ Penn

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    In his upcoming fight opposite rising star Rory MacDonald, widely considered GSP 2.0, BJ Penn may be barking up the wrong tree.

    Now don't get me wrong.  Getting dogged on Twitter in front of millions of your fans is no way to enjoy retirement, so Penn's decision to take on the sport's biggest prospect is somewhat understandable.

    However, if the veteran happens to get dominated in every facet of the fight, it would more or less close the door for any future title run.

    It's a big risk for a guy who prides himself on winning and competing at the highest level.  It should be interesting to say the least.

Rampage Jackson

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    As far as the eye can see, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson believes he still has it.

    He believes he can compete at the highest level, and he believes he can still beat UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who defeated Jackson back at UFC 135.

    Currently on the last leg of his UFC contract, it's going to be difficult for the former champion to get a shot at Jones.  However, he'll still have one more chance to prove he deserves some sort of praise.

    Jackson is most definitely a legend of the sport, but his dedication to fighting and staying in shape has been called into question over the years.

    If the 34-year-old wants to prove his worth and howl his way into retirement he'll need to put everything on the line in his next fight.

Stephan Bonnar

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    When Stephan Bonnar demanded a big fight in the UFC, he probably didn't mean Anderson Silva.

    That's honestly as big as it gets.

    Now while Bonnar did absolutely nothing to deserve this career-defining opportunity, he did in fact step up, sign the dotted line and take a fight on short notice against the G.O.A.T.

    The bottom line is that Bonnar barely stands a chance.  He more or less tied Forrest Griffin the first time they fought, and Griffin couldn't even land one punch on the quicker and more versatile Silva.

    Bonnar may be tough and considerably fresh, but he'll either be eating his words or celebrating the biggest upset in MMA history when it's all said and done.

Nate Diaz

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    Nate Diaz may not deserve to be on this list, but considering he finally has the opportunity to prove he's the best lightweight in the world, he's on it.

    What it really comes down to for Diaz is finally cementing himself as a great fighter.  His cockiness over the years has been somewhat unbearable, but if he can back it up in every single one of his fights, what's there to complain about?

    He'll be taking on the very well-rounded Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 5 in December for the lightweight title.

    It won't be a cakewalk, but if Diaz can keep his distance and scramble on the ground he should have a good shot at finally cashing the check his mouth has written.

     

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