Worst-Case Scenario for Each UFC Champion in the Next 12 Months
Every champion must face a worst-case scenario head-on every once in a while.
Some get injured, some have bad nights and others show up physically when they know they never showed up mentally on fight night. These things happen, and for some current UFC champions, it happened int 2012. Will it happen in 2013?
If it happens, Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz will know. So will Jose Aldo and Benson Henderson. Ditto for the winner of the Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit fight, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Junior Dos Santos. How will they know? Because when something happens to a UFC champion, it does not go unnoticed.
So, what exactly are these worst-case scenarios?
Worst-Case Scenario: John Dodson Knocks out Demetrious Johnson
Demetrious Johnson got his props for his fight with Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, but ever since he fought Miguel Torres, it seems as though the man just cannot get any love from fans. Painfully, we must say out loud that while Johnson's style attempts to beg to differ, fans point to style in support of their lack of love for the UFC's current 125-pound kingpin.
Right now, John Dodson's knockout power and hand speed present the worst-case scenario for arguably the promotion's fastest athlete. Nobody has come close to catching "Mighty Mouse" yet, but with only two pro losses and a "draw" with Ian McCall, it doesn't sound off any alarms to see Johnson lose his belt to a fighter.
However, if anyone could do it, Dodson could do it. Dodson has the speed, the patience to wait for his moments to attack and above all else, Dodson's a gentle guy with such a big smile that few seem to take with with anything more than a grain of salt.
Worst-Case Scenario: Dominick Cruz Suffers a Serious Injury Against Renan Barao
In 2011, Renan Barao was the most lethal and most promising bantamweight that fans had ever heard of. Until UFC 149, he showcased why his was a must-see array of talent in the UFC's 135-pound class. Then came Urijah Faber, and Barao systematically dissected "The California Kid."
"Systematic dissection" will rank low on Dominick Cruz's list of worries as he prepares to return from his surgery and rehabilitation to compete in a title unification bout with Barao, but contrary to popular belief, losing his belt to Barao will not rank any higher than suffering the same fate as Faber.
Actually, numero uno on Cruz's list of worries should come in the way of the damage Barao will intend to inflict. Mind you, Barao never shattered a man's orbital or came close to damaging a nerve in a fighter's arm, but in a title fight, Barao will look to leave no doubt, even at the expense of Cruz's facial features.
An unlikely scenario? Absolutely, but if Barao does enough to sideline Cruz, it just may happen.
Worst -Case Scenario: Jose Aldo's Knee Forces Him to Vacate His Title
It would suck for Jose Aldo to not even get the chance to fight Frankie Edgar or Chan Sung Jung with the belt on the line, but considering a motorcycle accident caused Frank Mir to vacate the heavyweight title, who can say Aldo's knee won't raise the same questions?
Even if Aldo stays away from choppers, motocross fanatics and even suped-up bicycles, any further aggravation of Aldo's knee could cause Aldo to seriously reconsider moving further in his career.
Worst-Case Scenario: Benson Henderson Needs a Win to Stay in the UFC
What's the worst that can happen to Benson Henderson?
He already has people that think he lost two fights with Frankie Edgar, and he has people that think Nate Diaz will somehow take his belt at UFC on Fox 5. Supposing he loses the belt to Diaz and loses his first fight of 2013, what would really come on the negative side of it all?
Another former UFC champion basically needing a win just to stay in the UFC? Fending off ridiculous cries for a jump to 170? Shaking off even more ridiculous cries for a drop to 145?
All of the above could happen if he loses to Diaz. And don't discount the possibility of people seriously crying out for Henderson to drop in weight. They did it to Kenny Florian after all, and they did get their hopes up about KenFlo dropping to flyweight once he lost to Jose Aldo.
Who will honestly say, with a straight face, that someone won't at least think it if Henderson loses his belt and his next two or three fights in the next year?
Worst-Case Scenario: A Knee Injury Forces Georges St-Pierre from Another Fight
At this point, do injuries surprise people?
They don't surprise me, sadly. Georges St-Pierre surprised many by staying healthy for this long, but questions still linger as to whether cage rust will plague the champion as we approach his Nov. 17 bout with Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
If Condit falls, one would think the worst-case scenario comes in GSP losing a possible bout with Diaz for whatever reason. However, at this point, only another serious injury prior to another title defense would plague GSP.
Simply put, GSP rarely has had to pull out because of injuries, but he has pulled out twice so far because of injuries, which helped Condit reach this point in time.
If GSP pulls from a title bout for a third time, what will that say about GSP's remaining time in the sport?
Worst-Case Scenario: Anderson Silva Doesn't Get Booked to Fight in 2013
A 2013 without Anderson Silva at all?
Don't make me laugh.
If only once or twice a year, Silva does fight on somewhat of a consistent basis, even if Dana White loses sleep on occasion for trying to find a justifiable challenge for Silva. Of course, we're best off not recounting his victims list, as we know what Silva has done in the sport.
All he has not done is sign on to face Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre. By this time next year, will we even have anything to say about Bisping or Weidman? Will fans still cry out to see Silva face Jones or GSP if something happens to Bisping or Weidman?
Let's hope so, even if that Bisping-Vitor Belfort fight doesn't happen, which by the way, it should.
Worst-Case Scenario: Win or Lose Against Chael Sonnen, Jon Jones Retires
I say this to you in complete confidence, just so you have no questions.
It doesn't matter if Jon Jones destroys Chael Sonnen, squeaks by Sonnen or gets destroyed by Sonnen, the worst-case scenario for Jones would come in the form of an early retirement.
After welcoming another middleweight to 205, what benefits could possibly come if something forces Jones away from MMA, thus causing the winners of Mauricio Rua-Alexander Gustafsson and Dan Henderson-Lyoto Machida to face each other for a then-vacant title?
Sadly, not even second Shogun-Henderson for the title would negate the downside that comes with Jones opting to call it a career on the heels of his fight with Sonnen, as the eventual champion will earn the perception of being a "paper" champion who never beat the real champ to win the title.
Besides, if fans want Shogun to get another reign, or if they want Henderson to get the one title that has eluded him throughout his entire career, something needs to be said for Jones staying in a sport that clearly wants and needs him in order for that to happen.
Worst-Case Scenario: Junior Dos Santos Never Fights Alistair Overeem
The title was supposed to include Daniel Cormier's name, because fans would get bummed if Cormier somehow never even got close to fighting Junior Dos Santos, but with the animosity that exists between JDS and Alistair Overeem, wouldn't fans think that it'd suck to see the dream fight fall through again?
Of course, JDS losing the belt to Cain Velasquez is one thing, but if injuries plague either man or if Overeem somehow flunks another random pre-fight screening, fans will question what JDS has left in terms of challenges.
No promises can come in fans' hopes of a rematch with Stefan Struve or Fabricio Werdum, nobody's sold on Minotauro Nogueira's full-fledged return to form (sans Yours Truly, who thinks Struve should come next for Big Nog, and the notion of JDS at light-heavyweight makes about as much sense as the winner of Shane Carwin-Roy Nelson getting the next crack at the gold).
You know what to do, Junior. You too, Alistair. We need this fight to happen, though we'll be cool with Velasquez "stepping in" to get Overeem.
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