Along with Jon Jones, many people consider Ryan Bader to be a prodigal, up-and-coming light heavyweight prospect of the UFC.
Bader is undefeated in his professional fight career, and he hasn't even come close to legitimately losing.
He has no apparent weakness, and if he continues on this route, he will inevitably meet Jones in what could be a fight to determine the challenger to the light heavyweight title.
But one thing that is sad about MMA is how easy it is to get caught up in hype. Bader has a lot of hype, and although much of it is legitimate, there is always the looming possibility that he will lose to Antonio Rogerio 'Minotauro' Nogueira, a.k.a. Lil' Nog, at UFC 119.
So what would happen if Bader lost this battle?
Again, merely going off rumors, the winner of this fight may be considered to fight in a match with Jon Jones, the victor of which would face the winner between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Rashad Evans sometime in 2011.
But after his latest performance, which was against Jason Brilz, would Lil' Nog deserve such a shot to become the No. 1 contender for the title?
Lil' Nog barely won against Brilz. Basically, the only reason the W was attributed to his record was due to a split decision that was granted in similar fashion as that of Machida vs. Shogun at UFC 104.
However, despite the outcome of the fight, the result is often completely different when left in the hands of the judges, which was the case in the split decision going in Lil' Nog's favor at UFC 114.
So again, if Lil' Nog beat Bader, would he deserve a shot at being the No. 1 contender for the light heavyweight title? Potentially, but a victory over Bader would need to be completely authoritative.
The actual likelihood of a Lil' Nog victory is a completely different matter, but it's important to look at the possibility in case it becomes a reality.
At least one light heavyweight hype train would be derailed, although Jones seems to continue manifesting his.
No matter the outcome of the UFC 119 match against Lil' Nog, Bader will still be considered an extremely gifted fighter. However, he certainly needs this victory to "keep up with the Joneses."