UFC on FOX 7: "Henderson vs. Melendez" goes down this Saturday night (April 20, 2013) from HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., and on paper the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) seventh network television event appears to be one of the best yet.
A Lightweight championship affair between the world's top-ranked 155-pound fighter Benson Henderson and the No. 1-ranked contender Gilbert Melendez takes main stage at the event as the two are set to battle for Henderson's title belt.
Supporting the main event is one of the most anticipated Heavyweight debuts in recent memory as Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier will finally step foot in the Octagon against former UFC champion Frank Mir.
With the two headlining bout garnering a lot of attention from both fans and media, and for good reason, it's time to break down what -- besides a paycheck -- a victory on Saturday means for the four athletes carrying UFC on FOX 7.
Even though he has only been in the UFC for about three years, Benson Henderson has already put in a significant amount of work in the lightweight division.
"Smooth" is just one victory shy of tying B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar's record for the most successful 155-pound title defenses in UFC history at three, and can tie Jim Miller and George Sotiropoulos for the second longest win-streak ever in the division at seven.
Henderson has stated in the past that he wants to go down as one of the greatest of all-time, and considering his already solid stat sheet, it seems he is well on his way to doing so.
For Henderson, it seems the only important things in his life are kicking butts and taking names by whatever means necessary. His goal is to be the greatest lightweight in history and pass Anderson Silva's record for consecutive wins and title defenses inside the Octagon and UFC on FOX 7 is just the next step in achieving that goal.
A win for Henderson means he puts himself on the level of great lightweight champions such as Penn and Edgar, and more importantly puts himself in prime position to break the record and become the most dominant lightweight the UFC has ever had.
For years Gilbert Melendez has claimed his stake as the No. 1 lightweight fighter on the planet. The Team Skrap Pack member has taken out essentially every elite 155-pound fighter who has not competed in the UFC, but as we know, the world's premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization is where a fighter needs to be if they wish to solidify a place at the top of the mountain.
Melendez is so highly regarded that he is just the fourth person in UFC history to receive a title shot in their debut with the organization. None of the previous three fighters have been successful in capturing gold the first time they step in the Octagon, so the 31-year-old has the chance to make a little bit of history with a win.
A loss wouldn't be detrimental to Melendez's career or future with the UFC, but a win prove what he has been saying all these years is indeed true: "El Nino" is the best lightweight in the world.
Former undisputed and interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir is walking a dangerous line going into UFC on FOX 7. Coming off a defeat to Junior dos Santos for the title in May 2012, the outspoken 33-year-old is teetering on the verge of irrelevancy as a title contender in his weight class.
Mir is still without question one of the very best heavyweight fighters in the world, but he has climbed the mountain only to fall back down so many times that one has to wonder when enough is enough.
Never one to turn down a challenge, Mir welcomes Daniel Cormier to the UFC in the UFC on FOX 7 co-main event in a match up that could either breathe new life into his career (again) or send him packing for good.
Mir has never lost two-straight fights and now is certainly not the best time for the 33-year-old to go on the worst skid of his career, making a victory all the more important.
Fortunately for the Las Vegas native, this isn't the first time he has been in a position where he's been counted out only to come through with a spectacular performance. So fans know he is capable.
Mir said in the pre-fight, "Road to the Octagon" special on FOX that his biggest fear retiring from the sport without realizing his full potential as a competitor. If he wants the chance to do that, a win over Cormier is an absolute must.
Of all the featured fighters on the UFC on FOX 7 fight card, no one has higher expectations to deliver than former Olympian and Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier.
The 34-year-old is already being pegged as viable title contender not just in the heavyweight division, but the Light Heavyweight class as well -- a division "DC" has yet to compete in.
UFC championship fights appear destined for Cormier's future; however, none of it will become a reality unless he gets past a very dangerous opponent in Frank Mir. Despite being a heavy favorite, Cormier must be careful when he steps in the cage. Mir has surprised fans with his performances before and he is capable of doing it again, it just comes down to if Cormier will be able to stop him.
Even though he does hold some solid wins over the likes of Antonio Silva and Josh Barnett, earning a victory under the UFC banner over an opponent like Mir will only bring more legitimacy to Cormier's resume and support his status as one of the world's elite competitors.
With so much hype around him, the stakes are as high for Cormier as anyone else on the card. If he hopes to fight for UFC gold in the near future, he can't afford to put on anything other than a sensational performance.
A defeat for Cormier at UFC on FOX 7 would be a crushing blow the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions as a fresh contender would be crossed off the list. A victory, though, would open many doors for the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product and leave him with the option of deciding what's next.
What do you think a win means on Saturday for these four men? Let us know in the comments section below!