UFC on FUEL TV 8: "Silva vs. Stann" goes down this Saturday night (March 2, 2013) at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
A light heavyweight clash between hard-hitting strikers Wanderlei Silva and Brian Stann headlines the event, while a heavyweight bout more than one year in the making when Stefan Struve finally takes on Mark Hunt will serve as the co-featured fight of the night.
Also on the televised main card is a pivotal middleweight mixed martial arts (MMA) match up as Hector Lombard looks to continue his climb up the ranking when he takes on former 185-pound title challenger Yushin Okami.
With a number of bouts garnering lots of attention from both fans and media alike, it's time to break down what, besides a paycheck, a victory in Japan means for six of the men carrying the UFC on FUEL TV 8 fight card.
With a record of three wins and seven losses in his past ten fights, the legendary "Axe Murderer" is at the point in his career where every fight could realistically be his last.
Some people believed Silva was going to hang ‘em up after a huge win over Cung Le at UFC 139 in Nov. 2011, and then again when he lost to Rich Franklin at UFC 147 last summer in what was the Brazilian's first fight in his home country in nearly 12 years.
While there doesn't seem to be much talk about it going in to the event, there's a good chance Saturday's fight will be the last in Silva's Hall-of-Fame career, especially if he gets brutally knocked out. With him returning to 205-pounds --a weight class he dominated for years-- and fighting in the main event in a country where his decorated career flourished, the cards appear to be perfectly in line for Silva to end the competitive chapter of his life in picture-perfect fashion.
All he has to do it get by Brian Stann, which is far from an easy task, but certainly not an impossible one.
What does a win mean for Wanderlei Silva at UFC on FUEL TV 8? It means he gets to go out on top.
After a tough loss to Michael Bisping last year, Brian Stann gets a chance to get back on track with what some are considering to be a favorable match up against Wanderlei Silva.
While every fight is important to an athlete's career, Saturday's match up is merely a vanity bout for "All-American."
Stann is moving up a weight class to take on an opponent on the downside of his career. A win over Silva doesn't exactly do much for Stann in the rankings as he is planning to return to middleweight following the fight, but it does give him a chance to avoid a second consecutive defeat.
A win for Stann means he likely ends the career of one of the most influential figures in MMA history on a low note. While that's nothing to feel good about, having Silva's name under the win column is a tremendous accomplishment for any fighter, and Stann is no different.
If Stefan Struve fights smart, he should quickly submit Mark Hunt, which will announce him as a contender in the heavyweight division. A win over Hunt would be Struve's fifth victory in a row, the longest UFC win-streak of any heavyweight currently signed to the organization.
At 25 years old, there is no sense in rushing Struve towards the title, but if he continues to look impressive against the heavy-handed Hunt, the line of people between him and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez isn't all that long.
At this time last year, Mark Hunt had more momentum in his career than ever before. Three-straight UFC wins where he absolutely steamrolled his opponents -- then the injuries began to pour on. Hunt has been out of action for over one year nursing himself back to health, and now that he is ready to return, it's hard to tell if can pick up where he left off.
Taking on Struve, Hunt has a lot to overcome. On top of trying to bounce back from injury, "The Super Samoan" faces an opponent with over one foot of height and reach advantage and is on another an entirely different level when it comes to the ground game. As in any fight involving Hunt, the 37-year-old has the ability to end his opponent's night early with one strike due to his tremendous knockout power, and if he wins that will likely be how he gets the job done.
Upon entering the UFC in 2010, Hunt has abysmal 5-7 career record. He has turned things around by winning three of four inside the Octagon. If he wins on Saturday night, that means the career resurgence of Mark Hunt is still alive, despite the fact he was sidelined for so long.
With top middleweight contenders Michael Bisping, Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch having suffered defeats in their most recent fights, the door is open for Hector Lombard to make a splash in the middleweight division and announce himself as the one who should be next to challenge 185-pound kingpin Anderson Silva.
Even though Chris Weidman is likely going to get the next title shot, nothing is official, and Lombard could certainly swap the opinion of the UFC brass and leapfrog into the No. 1 contender spot with an impressive win at UFC on FUEL TV 8.
There are very few people out there who can say they've defeated Yushin Okami, and a win over "Thunder" would be arguably the most significant of Lombard's career and put him in a very good spot in the weight class.
Lombard stumbled in his UFC debut last summer then came back with a brutal knockout of Rousimar Palhares. Now he has the chance to prove his worth against an elite opponent, and a win for "Lightning" would show everyone that he is truly UFC caliber.
His fighting style may not be pretty, but Yushin Okami is the pedestal at 185-pounds when it comes to weeding out potential title challengers.
Coming off a dominant decision win over Alan Belcher at UFC 155 in December, Okami takes on dangerous judoka Hector Lombard in his home country of Japan.
No one is going to be knocking down the door to see Okami fight for the title again, but if he continues to win and knock off people view as contenders, he will be hard to deny. It took the 31-year-old 12 fights to get his first UFC title shot, and while the Japanese workhorse certainly hopes it won't take him that long to become No. 1 contender again, he will continue to do what's necessary.
Getting his hand raised on Saturday means Okami has derailed yet another potential contender in the middleweight division and earned his third-straight win. Moreover, he will put the memory of his comeback loss to Tim Boetsch --which took place at the same arena nearly one year ago-- to rest for good.
What do you think a win means for these six men on Saturday? Let us know in the comments section below.