UFC

5 MMA Fighters Under the Most Pressure to Perform Right Now

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

5 MMA Fighters Under the Most Pressure to Perform Right Now

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Pressure can be good or bad.

    It often lends a hand in propelling fighters to a level otherwise undiscovered, but it can also serve as a crippling mental handicap.

    In any case, the feeling of being under pressure affects each and every professional athlete in some way, not just the ones who enter a cage and fight another human being for a living.

    Based on past experiences, future expectations and overall divisional stakes, here are five MMA fighters under the most pressure to perform right now.

Holly Holm

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    MMAfighting.com

    A big contract means big expectations, and newly signed Holly Holm will aim to surpass those expectations in the UFC.

    As one of the quickest rising female fighters in the world today, the 32-year-old undefeated striking specialist will have to wade through countless waves of pressure in order to ascend the bantamweight ladder.

    With heavy hands and an aptitude that will lead her to excel quicker than most professional mixed martial artists do, Holm could one day dethrone champion Ronda Rousey.

    She'll simply have to show up when the Octagon gets locked, the lights get turned down and her paycheck is waved in front of her nose.

Michael Chandler

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Currently riding a two-fight losing streak, it seems like forever since former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler seemed an unstoppable force.

    Blessed with one of the purest athletic games in the sport today, the 28-year-old should be able to get back in the win column fairly soon.

    But as a former champion who was drawing praise as one of the very best 155-pound practitioners in the world, Chandler needs to win in fashion to regain any respect or momentum he lost at the hands of Eddie Alvarez and Will Brooks.

    If he happens to lose again, people will start to wonder if his early success was solely driven by his athleticism and not by an evolving skill set.

TJ Dillashaw

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Nobody thought TJ Dillashaw would disassemble former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao in the fashion that he did.

    But that's what so beautiful about a sport like mixed martial arts. Nothing is for certain, and nobody is safe.

    In any case, Dillashaw's unheralded performance at UFC 173 captured the eyes and respect of almost every fight fan in the world.

    However, when an underrated contender snaps off one of the best title defeats in UFC history, people are going to wonder if it was a flash in the pan.

    For someone as talented and as athletic as Dillashaw is, it seems unlikely that his first win over Barao is the only time we'll see him hoist promotional gold.

    But he needs to do it one more time for all of us to believe the divisional shift.

Conor McGregor

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Irish sensation Conor McGregor may be digging himself a hole that his mouth can't get him out of.

    As one of the more polarizing prospects in recent memory, McGregor has become notorious for talking trash and backing it up.

    But when the young superstar finds himself surrounded by the very best featherweights in the world, he's going to find out the hard way that he can't simply walk through every one of his opponents.

    That's not to say that McGregor doesn't respect any man who steps inside the cage with him, but cockiness comes with a price.

    If the 26-year-old continues to build his brand and promote himself this way, a loss in any fashion would subsequently ruin his legacy.

Matt Brown

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Unlike the aforementioned Conor McGregor, Matt Brown prefers to stay out of the limelight.

    He's a private fighter who just so happens to be one of the baddest dudes on the planet.

    Currently riding a seven-fight win streak, including an unfathomable six finishes, Brown has officially done enough to position himself one win away from a shot at UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks.

    But as awesome as that is for Brown and any fight fan who likes watching guys who go after a finish, one loss will send him back down the divisional ladder.

    That's why a win over Robbie Lawler this weekend at UFC on Fox 12 is so important.

    It would solidify his status as one of the very best fighters in the promotion today, one who has finally reached the pinnacle of his career.

     

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