10 Fighters with the Most to Lose This Year
Fighters risk a lot every time they step inside the octagon, and that is what makes the sport as intense and intriguing as it is.
Athletes in the UFC have worked their whole lives to get to the bright lights of the big show. Once there, they put it on the line each and every day to build a name, climb the ranks and ultimately challenge for the ultimate prize, a title.
Some of the top dogs in this game have a lot of money and fame riding on each and every move they make. Some of the middle men are fighting just to get that one shot, and the rest? Well, the rest of them are just fighting to put food on the table and continue to do what they love.
Here are 10 Fighters with the Most to Lose This Year:
Urijah Faber is living a dream in 2012 by becoming a star on The Ultimate Fighter.
The very widely seen reality show will solidify Faber's place as one of the brightest stars in the UFC. As is always the case, he will fight opposing coach Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title immediately once the show ends.
UFC stardom is always about in-cage performance, and what if Faber loses the much anticipated rubber match to Cruz?
Faber will find himself in bantamweight and featherweight purgatory—too good for any interesting fights outside the title and already having lost to Cruz twice and Jose Aldo once.
Where will Faber go from here?
Chael Sonnen lives to make Anderson Silva's life miserable, and he has done an amazing job of making himself the ultimate foil for the Brazilian champion.
If Sonnen loses the second match with Silva, he will fall from the contender perch he has held for so long now.
Does a guy like Sonnen get charged up for any fight other than a Silva fight?
He certainly dominated Brian Stann, but he looked less than interested against Michael Bisping.
Who or what will keep this guy motivated to stay in the game? A loss could mean the end of one of the favorite characters in the UFC as we know him.
Brazilian legends Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva are being showcased on TUF Brazil right now and will face each other in an epic clash at Engenhao Stadium in the summer following the show.
Both these men have established themselves in the world of MMA long before being on this show, and neither has much left to prove in the game anymore. Silva is already on a significant down swing in his career, but Belfort believes he has one more climb to the top in him.
Belfort has always needed special motivation to train, and if he loses to Silva in front of a stadium crowd at home, we may never see Belfort in the cage again.
Jason Miller had the world at his finger tips last year with his popular and successful appearance on TUF opposite Michael Bisping. The world was ready and waiting for Miller to repeat the embarrassment that Dan Henderson put on Bisping when they fought after that show.
There was a slight problem, as Miller was incredibly rusty in his return and laid an egg on national television, looking sloppy and gassing out after only five minutes of action.
Again, you can be as colorful a character as you want on the screen, but if you can't fight the best, your stock plummets like Miller's has.
He has one shot at redemption and still has fans who care. Another loss in his next fight could be all she wrote for Miller in the UFC.
Cain Velasquez is another one with a very telling year ahead of him in his career. He skyrocketed to the top in the last few years before suffering a slight set back with his loss to JDS on Fox. He lost the title in fast fashion, but his stock has not fallen much based on his previous run.
Everyone is expecting a bounce back from the former champion to keep him right in the title mix with the best of the best at heavyweight.
What if Cain loses his next fight?
His stock will drop to the level of putting him back in the tough climb with the likes of Roy Nelson, Antonio Silva, Brendan Schaub and even Mark Hunt.
A tough pill to swallow for the recent king of big men.
Frankie Edgar must feel like people feel bad for him, fighting amongst those giants in the lightweight division. Everyone wants to kick him out of his division after only one tough and close loss.
Edgar will not be deterred and is convinced he needs to drop down a weight, but what if he loses to Henderson again in the summer?
Edgar may have no choice but to go down and compete in a division that his heart isn't in, and what will that do to the motivation of this fine fighter?
If the UFC does not want him in the lightweight division anymore and he loses to Henderson, Edgar may be forced to play in the featherweight sand with Aldo—a place he obviously doesn't want to be yet.
Donald "The Cowboy" Cerrone has already lost a bit of his incredible 2011 shine with his tough loss to Nate Diaz on December 30th.
Cerrone vaulted himself to the top last year, fighting on short notice and winning impressively. People were talking title shot for the popular veteran.
Cerrone will now take a step back and face Jeremy Stephens in May to try to climb back to the spot he was in before losing to Diaz. If Stephens comes out and beats Cerrone, The Cowboy will have squandered the capital he built in 2011 and find himself out of the lightweight top 10.
Can Cerrone make another climb like last year? I don't think he can, and if he loses this fight, he may never be a contender again.
It's tough to say a fighter has a lot to lose when they are young and have not accomplished much in the sport yet, but remember where Stann sat in people's minds pre-Sonnen fight?
Stann was on a shooting star to the top of the division until "Uncle Chael" made him go to his room.
Stann is still highly regarded in the division and the game, but a loss in his next fight might drop him completely of the radar.
Stann is scheduled to face Alessio Sakara next week in the biggest bounce back fight of his career. Stann should beat Sakara in his sleep, but a loss will have dire consequences for him.
Rashad Evans has been a contender for the light heavyweight title for quite some time now; fans have been waiting for this fight for two years.
In the meantime, Evans' stock has grown, and he has talked and talked about how he will be the man to stop Jones' run in its tracks.
Evans is now shifting from young lion champion to veteran former champion, and if he loses to Jones, the latter tag will stick forever. Evans stock will never be higher than right now, and he can build his legend by beating Jones.
If he loses, he will be right back amongst them all again, having to climb the mountain again.
It's hard to feel bad for a man who loses it all in one fell swoop because of self-inflicted stupidity but such is the case with Alistair Overeem. His destruction of Brock Lesnar and shot at the UFC title were supposed to make 2012 the "Year of the Reem."
It is turning out to be more of the "Year of the Roid," and it breaks my heart to see it.
Few other men on this list are sitting as high as Overeem was heading into his fight this month, and none of them will fall farther.
Not only will Overeem lose his No. 1 contender status with his actions, but he could lose his job in the UFC forever and lose his chance to be one of the best fighters of all time.
If all these tests come back positive, it will be one of the biggest falls from grace in UFC history.
No one should feel bad for "The Roid."
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA, MMA Editor at CKSN.ca and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca.