UFC on Versus 5 Fight Card: Which Fighters Have the Most To Gain?
UFC on Versus 5 is set to take place Sunday, August 14th, 2011 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The card is headlined by a duel between strikers Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy and Chris "Lights Out" Lytle. The co-main event is Jim Miller vs. Ben Henderson.
Ironically, the co-main event is actually more important to its respective division (lightweight) than the main event is to its division (welterweight). That is to say, the two fighters have more to gain, specifically Miller.
There are other fighters who have a lot more to gain than others. Who are they? Read and find out, but keep in mind that obviously every fighter has something to gain by winning, but some have more to gain than just a win bonus or keeping their job.
Don't expect to see all 24 fighters on the card here.
Danny Castillo and Jacob Volkman
The fight between lightweights Danny Castillo and Jacob Volkman is a fight in which both competitors have something more to gain than the competitors in other fights.
What is it exactly that they are fighting for?
A chance to prove themselves against a Top 10 opponent in the lightweight division.
Both Castillo and Volkman are on three-fight winning streaks. A fourth win over another skilled competitor will propel the winner into the lower levels of the division's elite and maybe earn them a fight with the loser of Miller-Henderson or Guillard-Lauzon—maybe even the loser of Maynard-Edgar!
Should light heavyweight Karlos Vemola win his fight against Ronny Markes, he will have gained a lot.
Vemola has the look, the powerful fighting style and, more importantly, the nationality to become a much promoted star in the UFC light heavyweight division.
Vemola is from the Czech Republic (although he currently trains out of London) and the UFC is still in the midst of its European expansion.
Therefore, a win for Vemola would ensure that he receives more promotion from the UFC since, after all, he is crucial to one of their new markets and he is part of what many consider to be the UFC's marquee division: light heavyweight.
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Kyle Noke is in a position similar to Karlos Vemola due to his status as a fighter from a foreign country that the UFC wants to firmly cement its grip on: Australia (although Noke trains out of Greg Jackson's gym in New Mexico).
Aside from this, Noke is also on a five-fight winning streak, with the last three wins under the UFC banner.
A win over tough veteran Ed Herman at UFC on Versus 5 will catapult Noke into the next level of the middleweight division.
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Joseph Benavidez is 14-2 in his career—and those two losses have only come to UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
Benavidez is currently on a two-fight winning streak and should he beat Eddie Wineland he may earn another crack at the title.
Remarkably, Amir Sadollah has had all of his seven fights in the UFC. He is currently 5-2 in the organization and is riding a two-fight winning streak.
He is set to face experienced, highly-regarded striker Duane "Bang" Ludwig at UFC on Versus 5.
A win over such a veteran would be a great feather in Sadollah's cap, and he may be given a fringe Top 10 fighter with a victory.
Charles Oliveira and Donald Cerrone
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Both Charles Oliveira and Donald Cerrone have a lot to gain from their fight at UFC on Versus 5.
They are both highly touted competitors, Cerrone more than Oliveira, and a win in this fight would practically guarantee a matchup with a top echelon competitor.
However, Cerrone has a little more to gain than Oliveira since he is on a four-fight winning streak, as opposed to coming off a no contest, and likely has more name recognition due to his time in the WEC and his "Cowboy" gimmick.
Should Cerrone win, he'll be given a high-level competitor and perhaps even a co-main event spot or a main event on a free card.
But should Oliveira win, he'll just earn a better fight with a top competitor.
Still, both of these men have a lot to gain in this fight: A chance to break into the Top 10 of the lightweight division.
Jim Miller is the unfortunate dark horse of the UFC lightweight division. He is on a very impressive seven-fight winning streak and is 9-1 in the organization overall, with his only loss in the UFC coming to the No. 1 contender at lightweight, Gray Maynard.
His record stands at 20-2 overall and his only loss outside the UFC was to current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Despite Miller's impressive accomplishments, he still hasn't been offered a guaranteed title shot. If he decisively beats Ben Henderson at UFC on Versus 5, maybe he can finally receive what he has earned long ago: a shot at the lightweight belt.
Why Not Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle?
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Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle don't have the most to gain from their fight.
If Dan Hardy wins he doesn't really prove anything about himself as a mixed martial artist. "So what? You beat another guy who just wanted to stand with you," fans will accurately say.
Hardy has struggled against wrestlers and by requesting to fight someone that would stand with him he has essentially defied the mixed in mixed martial arts. Thus, winning this fight doesn't help Hardy aside from letting him keep his job; he'll still be just as one-dimensional relative to other welterweights.
Lytle has a little more to actually gain from winning since he may be considered a contender again, but at 36 years old it's probable that he may be at the end of his career, especially when one considers his political aspirations.
So, that is the story going into UFC on Versus 5. Disagree with who has the most to gain? Please post in the comments below.
Matt Saccaro is a Bleacher Report featured columnist and an avid MMA fan. For articles like the one above and for brilliant 140-character insights into MMA, follow him on Twitter: Follow @MattSaccaro.