UFC 158: Which Fighter Has the Most to Lose?

Kyle SymesCorrespondent IIIMarch 15, 2013

Jan 12, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Nate Marquardt (black shorts) enters the ring before his fight with Tarec Saffiedine (not shown) in their Strikeforce MMA Welterweight Title bout at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 158 is drawing closer and we will finally see Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre throw down in the Octagon. We will also see a handful of welterweight bouts that figure to shake up the 170-pound rankings.

Among those fights is Nate Marquardt taking on Jake Ellenberger. Ellenberger was originally scheduled to face top contender Johny Hendricks but Hendricks was bumped to the co-main event after Rory MacDonald's injury. Now Ellenberger faces the former UFC middleweight title contender Marquardt in a big fight for both competitors.

Although both have a lot on the line in the contest, I believe Marquardt is the fighter with the most to lose heading into UFC 158. The top four guys competing on the card are all facing stiff competition and there'd be no shame in to losing for them. There's also no shame in losing to a guy like Ellenberger, but it would be Marquardt's second loss in a row.

His last bout was on Strikeforce's final card and saw Tarec Saffiedine obliterate his leg en route to a unanimous decision victory. Now Marquardt heads back to the UFC where he is on bad terms due to medical complications with his use of TRT.

It's just another wrinkle in the career of Marquardt that has become increasingly tarnished with PEDs and dirty tactics in his fight with Thales Leites. Marquardt is universally known as a good guy in the MMA world, but he has a checkered past.

If Marquardt drops two fights in a row the UFC would be hard pressed to keep him in the upper half of the division and we could see him delegated to gatekeeper status. After attempting to revive his career by dropping to 170 pounds, that's the last thing Marquardt wants.

His debut at 170 pounds looked great as he took out the heralded prospect Tyron Woodley but that would be a forgotten memory if Marquardt were to drop a second straight fight. I don't believe he'll be cut as he's an entertaining fighter with a recognizable name but his title hopes at welterweight would almost certainly come to an end.

The welterweight title picture is set to become crystal clear following UFC 158 but what's unclear now is where Marquardt will find himself following the event. A win likely bumps him to at least being "in the mix" while a loss could send his career spiraling out of control.