Las Vegas is built upon the idea that dreams can be made and broken in one quick turn, and no shortage of risk will be involved for the major players when the UFC returns to Sin City next weekend for UFC 162.
In the main event, middleweight king Anderson Silva will put his title and legacy on the line when he faces upstart Chris Weidman. The pound-for-pound great will look to cement his G.O.A.T. status by defeating the last standing threat in the 185-pound division.
For Weidman, the fight presents the opportunity of a lifetime. The 29-year-old Long Island native has been competing as a professional for less than four years and will risk his undefeated record and "future of the sport" label on July 6.
In addition to the action at the top of the card, several other fighters have heavy stakes at UFC 162. A former champion will look to put the brakes on the worst skid of his career, while a handful of potential contenders will look to remain in heated title races.
The event is stacked from top to bottom, so let's take a look at who has the most to win and lose at UFC 162.
Silva Has More Than a Title on the Line at UFC 162
Anytime Silva steps into the Octagon, everyone in the MMA community pays attention. Since making his UFC debut seven years ago, "The Spider" has put on a carnival of destruction, making highlight-reel material out of a collection of the sport's best fighters.
Along the way, the pound-for-pound king has shattered the UFC record book. The 38-year-old has amassed a 16-fight winning streak and a record-setting 10 consecutive title defenses while fighting in the UFC. This success has vaulted him to the top of the UFC hierarchy, and he is largely recognized as the greatest fighter in MMA history.
That being said, his legacy will get tested next weekend against Weidman. While the Brazilian phenom is heading into the final chapter of his career, his recent re-signing with the UFC ensures more fights are ahead.
If Silva hopes to turn those final showings into the proposed superfights which have been rumored for years, he will need to walk out of the Octagon at UFC 162 with his title intact.
Without a doubt, The Spider would have an immediate rematch if he were to lose his title, but the championship belt isn't the biggest concern for the UFC's most dominant titleholder. Silva wants high-profile, big-money fights, and a loss to Weidman would throw a wrench in those works.
While the champion's name recognition and track record will make for interesting bouts for the rest of his career, his prospects of locking down the biggest bouts in MMA history against Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones would suffer if Weidman were to dethrone him.
Things look a little different on Weidman's side of the table. The Ray Longo-trained fighter is still in the early stages of his career, and the bout against Silva is pure upside for the No. 1 contender. Despite coming off a year layoff to face the most prolific champion in UFC history, Weidman can launch his status into the stratosphere with a victory over Silva.
On the other hand, should the New York native come up short against the middleweight great, Weidman will have plenty of time in his career to bounce back.
Frankie Edgar Is Looking for "The Answer" to Stop His Skid
Coming into 2012, Frankie Edgar was sitting at the pinnacle of the lightweight division. The Toms River native had defeated MMA legend B.J. Penn in back-to-back showings and closed out his classic trilogy with Gray Maynard in definitive fashion.
The grit and determination he put on display carved out his spot in MMA folklore. The Answer is the perpetual underdog with an undersized frame and an oversized heart.
But the tides of fortune soon changed for Edgar.
He lost his coveted title to Benson Henderson at UFC 144 and then came up short in the immediate rematch at UFC 150 in August 2012.
Suffering back-to-back losses for the first time in his career and being bumped out of title contention in the 155-pound division prompted Edgar to change directions. The former lightweight champion decided to test his skills in featherweight waters, where he was granted an immediate title shot against 145-pound king Jose Aldo at UFC 156.
Despite giving the featherweight king a run for his money throughout the five-round affair, the New Jersey native fell short once again, making it three consecutive notches in the loss column.
In one year's time, Edgar went from being a champion in the most competitive division to toeing the line of relevancy. This scenario has placed his back against the wall—another loss could potentially put him on the chopping block.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old will have the opportunity to reignite his career when he faces Charles Oliveira at UFC 162. While "Do Bronx" does not hold the key back to title contention, he does present a challenge for the former champion.
Should Edgar win, he would stop his current backslide and regain traction in his career. But if he loses in Las Vegas, he will be reshuffled into the deck of a division that is only growing more competitive.
While it's difficult to believe the UFC would discard Edgar with a loss, the possibility has to be considered.
It's 'Do or Die' for Two Middleweights Looking to Stay in the Hunt
Heading into the summer of 2012, both Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch were climbing the ladder toward title contention. Unfortunately, their paths would take abrupt turns when they both suffered painful setbacks.
"The Filipino Wrecking Machine" came out on the business end of a second-round knockout against Chris Weidman at UFC on Fuel TV 4 in July, bringing his four-fight winning streak to an end and removing him from the immediate title picture. To make matters worse, the 35-year-old Californian discovered he had a broken foot going into the fight, which sidelined him for 12 months.
Boetsch faced similar circumstances.
"The Barbarian" had racked up four straight victories since dropping down from the light heavyweight division and was on the threshold of the upper tier of the 185-pound weight class. Unfortunately for the 32-year-old Maine native, that momentum came to a halt when Costa Philippou defeated him at UFC 155 in December.
In light of their recent setbacks, both Munoz and Boetsch will enter UFC 162 with stakes on the line at a crucial time for the middleweight division. The 185-pound weight class has been heating up over the past year, and neither fighter can afford to lose.
Munoz has been close to title contention twice, and a loss against Boetsch would probably prevent a third chance. On the other hand, a victory at UFC 162 would keep Munoz in the hunt and on pace with a group of surging contenders.
As for Boetsch, the bout is "do or die" as far as contention is concerned. On the list of high-profile middleweights, Boetsch carries the least amount of clout. That being said, the heavy-handed powerhouse has legitimate credentials as one of the top fighters in the division.
Nevertheless, title races are a fast-moving game under the UFC banner. If Boetsch is looking to stay with the pack, a victory at UFC 162 is a must.
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