Despite numerous withdrawals, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has a stellar main card lined up for this weekend's UFC on FOX 9: "Johnson vs. Benavidez 2" event, which takes place at the Sleep Train Arena this Saturday night (Dec. 14, 2013) in Sacramento, California.
Those in question are four combatants in the UFC's lightest of weight classes, and despite their accolades, neither one of them have truly witnessed their full potential inside the Octagon.
Demetrious Johnson looks to make it three straight title defenses by defending the flyweight title against Joseph Benavidez. The two first met at UFC 152 in the 125-pound tournament finals, where Johnson edged Benavidez to become the promotion's first-ever champion.
A bantamweight bout set for the co-main event will surely be spectacular, as Urijah Faber takes on Michael McDonald in a fight where the winner could be eyeing their second 135-pound title shot sometime soon.
"Mighty Mouse" will be entering his fifth title fight in the promotion having already made a history by defending the flyweight title once and now looks for a third consecutive defense. It is obvious that the flyweight division is not exactly the most packed house out of all nine weight classes.
Still, it would be an obstacle to break those records for the next holder of the throne, and Demetrious Johnson is setting an example of how you can continuously prove to be one of the greatest fighters in the world by leaving your mark in the cage, without having to bring additional attention to yourself.
This fight is all about respect for the champion.
Johnson is nowhere near the combatants who get mentioned ever so often when it comes to discussing who the best fighters on the planet is, and who may be the best pound-for-pound fighter today. Of course, Johnson still has a lot to prove, especially in comparison to the dominant forces who hold titles at this present time. Yet, his track record in both the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is phenomenal, and he could make a strong case to be considered as fighter of the year if he can obtain his fifth straight victory in Sacramento.
It would be the definite highlight of Joseph Benavidez's young career if he can defeat Johnson this weekend, and he would finally bring a championship to the Team Alpha Male camp, completing an incredibly successful year for the Sacramento stable.
At just 29 years old, Benavidez has already had an accomplished career and much like his teammate who we will discuss below, he has only lost three times to the champions (although, his first loss was to Dominick Cruz when "The Dominator" was not the bantamweight champion at WEC 42).
Benavidez's record stands at 19-3, and he found success against Johnson in their first meeting at UFC 152, he just came up short on the judges' scorecards.
A win for the "Joe Jitsu" practitioner would be a passing of the torch at flyweight, ending the reign of "Mighty Mouse." It would also open the door to a potential trilogy fight between both athletes.
Having won 29 fights that did not have a championship involved, it is tough to say that Urijah Faber does not bounce back into the title picture if he can overcome the young and dangerous Michael McDonald.
Faber has lost six fights in his career -- all title fights. Say Faber gets his fourth straight win over a prospect such as McDonald on Saturday night, is it ludicrous to give him another one?
He has lost two title fights in UFC, but perhaps the third time is the charm for "The California Kid," who would find himself in a position where he may have to defeat another threat that stands in his way, even if he beats someone who can bring forth a challenge such as "Mayday."
Speaking about title fights, Michael McDonald already received one against Renan Barao at UFC on FUEL TV 7, and put the champion in the most danger he has even been in during his reign, even dropping him in the process.
It is only fair to assume that "Mayday" is guaranteed to have another crack at the gold if he overcomes a mainstay like Faber. It would be huge for the young Californian, who is already 5-1 in UFC with three finishes at the tender age of just 22.
Like his opponent, chances are one more foe will stand in his way if he finds himself victorious on Saturday night. However, if McDonald becomes only the third competitor to stop Faber, his chances of getting an immediate shot increase heavily.
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 9 fight card right here on fight night (Dec. 14, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 5 p.m. ET and then main card FOX action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.
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