5 UFC Fighters Poised to Regain Their Form
Fighters come and go. Titles change hands, contenders drop off and this cycle that we tag as mixed martial arts repeats itself on cue.
But sometimes—and this doesn't happen too often—a group of ultra-talented fighters escape divisional purgatory. They defy the odds, cultivating only the skills they need to claw their way back to the top.
Whether it is an ex-champion or the best finisher in promotional history, the line is never drawn. In association with this unpredictable track record, here are five fighters poised to regain their form.
Joe Lauzon will never win a title. He's just not that type of fighter.
But like the heavyweight destruction laid forth by the likes of Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt, Lauzon is a lightweight dynamo.
With six Submission of the Night awards and five Fight of the Night performances, "J-Lau" may very well be the most exciting fighter in UFC history.
So it came as a shock to many when the 30-year-old dropped back-to-back decisions to Jim Miller and Michael Johnson.
While his bout with Miller turned into one of the best fights of 2012, Lauzon's efforts opposite Johnson and even his inability to finish Mac Danzig back in December suggested that his wildly successful career may be coming to a head.
But in actuality, Lauzon's win over Danzig was his lone professional victory via decision. That means he's finished his other 22 victories by either submission, knockout or TKO.
You just don't give up on a guy like that.
When Lauzon takes on Michael Chiesa in September at UFC Fight Night 50, someone is going to tap.
It's easy to count Ryan Bader out of any light heavyweight title pictures simply based on the fact that he'll probably never defeat Jon Jones.
But as a solidified veteran capable of knocking any opponent silly, Bader needs to command more respect amongst MMA's masses.
His only promotional defeats were against Lyoto Machida, Tito Ortiz, Glover Teixeira and Jones. And he had Teixeira hurt badly before the Brazilian landed a patented knockout blow.
In any case, Bader continues to rise to the occasion when his back is up against the wall and nobody believes he's worth the consideration as a future contender.
His skill set isn't enough to defeat the likes of the champ, but once Bader regains his divisional form, he'll only be one or two wins away from a No. 1 contender's bout.
Based on sheer size, Alistair Overeem will always have the capability of turning his misfortunes into immediate success.
Just look at how badly he dominated former champion Frank Mir back in February.
Mir is by no means as good as he once was, but he's no chump.
For that, Overeem could already be considered back to form. But since it was a depleted Mir and he was unable to finish him, the door is still open for a full-fledged breakout.
The sort of breakout that we thought we were going to see after Overeem retired Brock Lesnar. The sort of over-the-top dominance that pegged him one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world just a few years ago.
If he can keep his training regiment intact, round out his conditioning and understand that Octagon patience is a virtue, then there's no reason why Overeem can't relaunch his hype campaign and challenge for a title by 2016.
Were you not expecting to see the greatest fighter of all time on this list?
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where Anderson Silva's career currently resides because of his unfortunate injury and the lack of belief in the fact that he actually lost to Chris Weidman twice.
Nobody really knows what to expect from the former UFC middleweight kingpin when he makes his return early next year.
But considering he is in fact the most fascinating fighter in the history of the sport, one who made the very best contenders in the world look like old men collecting blueberries, who in their right mind would bet against Silva regaining his elite form?
It's highly unlikely that he doesn't, especially considering how quick of a comeback he's currently making.
As it stands right now, Silva needs to be accounted for. Each and every UFC middleweight needs to understand that the man who once made the division respectable—and relevant, for that matter—is coming to reclaim it.
BJ Penn is not the fighter we remember.
His offensive output has dropped considerably, and he no longer resembles an athlete who enjoys doing what he does.
But as lackluster as Penn looked this past weekend at The Ultimate Fighter 19 finale, Frankie Edgar needs to be held accountable for his immediate demise.
As one of the best pound-for-pound fighters around, Edgar sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to the elite contenders in the world.
Maybe it's because he's been around the block and people somehow confuse his longevity for tapped potential.
Whichever ill-advised notion people have in their empty skulls, it's time to realize that Edgar is just as good as he's ever been.
That's a scary thought because he's finally found his natural home at 145 pounds.
Now while he's only posted a 2-3 record over his last five bouts, three of which were title fights, Edgar is finally finding his groove.
All he has to do is stay healthy, pick off the division's best and wait for the UFC to cash in on his popularity and marketability, and Edgar will find himself fighting for a championship sometime next year.
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