5 Fighters Who Are Due for a Main Event Spot
Fighters do everything they can to stand out from the pack.
Whether it's a highlight-reel finish or a war of attrition, they often exceed expectations to fulfill undiscovered potential.
But in today's sport, when ratings and green paper with faces on it rule the blood and sweat-drenched canvas, making it big can only equate to headlining.
Until a fighter commands that top billing, well, he hasn't made it.
There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, but for the sake of the overwhelming talents who deserve this distinguished honor, here are five fighters who are due for a main event spot.
A 22-0 professional record should be the only thing needed to headline a UFC event, but Khabib Nurmagomedov just hasn't recorded the signature performances needed to reward him with such a big responsibility.
Instead, the young Russian phenom has made headway on less appealing cards, making only one pay-per-view main card through six heavily decisive victories.
But through thick and thin, main card or preliminary appearance, "The Eagle" has spread his wings in such an explosive manner that his next fight most certainly could headline.
Especially if the UFC wants to break the language barrier and make Nurmagomedov a spellable name in American households, they need to push his stock to the front of the lightweight pile.
The UFC likes power, and welterweight dynamo Hector Lombard has plenty of it.
So what's the problem?
In some corners of the world people will point out that Lombard hasn't really captured the right kind of divisional wins, most recently slugging his way past an over-the-hill Nate Marquardt and settling for a decision after being unable to finish grappling guru Jake Shields.
That said, other entities will suggest that Lombard's time in such a jam-packed weight class just hasn't come. Which makes sense considering top title threats like Dong Hyun Kim and Tarec Saffiedine haven't received much exposure as well (although Saffiedine did headline in Singapore, against a mid-tier Hyun Gyu Lim).
In any case, Lombard possesses some serious potential even at the top of a weight class drenched with heavy-handed strikers, strong wrestlers and pestering athletes.
The time has come for Daniel Cormier to get his hands on light heavyweight trailblazer Jon "Bones" Jones.
He has waited for what seems like forever to get a shot at the title so it should be interesting to see what he does with it.
But outside of the actually fight itself, it's important to recognize that Cormier is quickly ascending the promotion's popularity chart.
The more we see him rag doll MMA legends like Dan Henderson, the more we want to see him.
Now it's highly unlikely that Cormier is going to step inside the cage at UFC 178 and toss around the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, but it's nice to see him finally get a well-deserved spot in a main event.
The man with the hands has arrived.
Well, he's been here before, but he's finally making the monumental divisional shifts that we all thought he could eventually make.
The fact that he's now doing it at light heavyweight is a testament to not only Anthony Johnson's professional rejuvenation, but nature's curious case of raw strength.
As a fighter who is capable of knocking out any man the UFC throws into the lion's den with him, Johnson is on the cusp of a lengthy stay atop the 205-pound roster.
He may not have the conditioning or quickness to fend off a champion like Jon Jones or a versatile striker like Alexander Gustafsson, but "Rumble" has certainly earned his keep.
Whether due to the fact that his professional predecessor, Georges St-Pierre, stood in his way or because the UFC always showcased him on pay-per-views, welterweight freak Rory MacDonald has never headlined, ever.
That's somewhat alarming, isn't it?
The UFC has always sort of rammed MacDonald down our throats in effort to promote his professional persona, so it comes as a surprise to look back and see that he's never been involved in a main event.
With that said, with GSP finally out of his way, the athletic youngster has finally been granted a clear path to the title.
If MacDonald's next fight isn't a main event, in an effort to give him that last popularity boost before his championship run, it would be a cynical disservice to us all.
For more UFC news and coverage, follow @DHiergesell