UFC 165 features a handful of consequential matchups that will vault the winners forward and deliver a crushing blow to the losers.
While some fighters will be competing for their jobs, others will try to solidify their status in the sport and others will attempt to keep their unblemished reputations in one piece.
Here we will take a look at the three fighters competing on the UFC 165 card who have the most to lose.
You could make the argument that fighters whose jobs are on the line have more to lose, but we're looking for something more profound than material stability (mostly for interest's sake), which is why Jones is an easy pick to top the list.
The light heavyweight champion is certainly not the most popular fighter in the UFC, but he is rapidly building a resume that says he might just be the very best.
But the higher you climb the longer the fall, and Jones currently enjoys the view from the zenith of mixed martial arts. Should he lose to Gustafsson at UFC 165 he has to drop his pound-for-pound claims (for a while at least), loses his title and suddenly becomes just another fighter.
Excluding a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill, Jones still hasn't lost. Undefeated fighters—especially champions—carry an aura about them that lasts until they are proved human. Above all else, the potential loss of that aura is what Jones has to fervently protect against every time he competes, and UFC 165 is no exception.
For starters, Barao could lose his interim bantamweight title. Beyond that, the Brazilian has climbed onto equal footing with Dominick Cruz as the one of the best two 135ers on the planet, and a loss changes that.
Add in that Barao is protecting a 30-fight win streak and he has quite a lot to lose at UFC 165.
Barao enters his bout with Eddie Wineland as the favorite, and for good reason, but there will be a great deal of danger lurking in the Octagon Saturday night. Wineland hits like a hammer and any slip up could bring everything Barao has built up crashing down.
Right now Barao looks like he composes one third of the bantamweight division's future, along with Cruz and Michael McDonald. His position in relation to his fellows will be heavily impacted tonight.
It's pretty rare that a fighter goes from elite prospect to overrated hack over the span of back-to-back wins, but that's been Carmont's course in a lot of people's eyes.
After moving his UFC record to a perfect 5-0 on the strength of consecutive controversial decisions, many fans are just waiting for him to officially slip up. Should Carmont lose at UFC 165 everyone calling him a pretender will be vindicated, and their collective "I told you so" will ring out loud and clear.
While public opinion doesn't determine a fighter's place in the sport, it does influence things. If enough people say Carmont was never that good, many will start to believe it—maybe even the UFC brass.
From there it's a high climb back.
The easy way to avoid such a catastrophe would be to go out and win. Easier said than done, of course, but a loss means terrible things for Carmont, so it's time for him to win convincingly.
If he doesn't, he may fall right out of relevancy.
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