UFC on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Morgaga" goes down Saturday night (July 27, 2013) from KeyArena in Seattle, Wash., and despite being a top-heavy card in terms of name value, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) eighth network television has a number of solid match ups.
A flyweight championship affair between the world's top-ranked 125-pound fighter Demetrious Johnson and the No. 4 ranked contender John Moraga takes main stage at the event as the two are set to battle for the title belt currently held by "Mighty Mouse".
Supporting the main event is a major showdown in the welterweight division as rising prospect Rory MacDonald will look to continue his quest towards the top of the 170-pound rankings against the heavy-handed veteran Jake Ellenberger.
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 8.
The reigning 125-pound champion has a very, "You line them up, I'll knock them down," type of attitude to his title run, and from an observes point of view it appears Johnson has a very workman-like perspective going into his second title defense.
Even though he is an exciting fighter and without questions the top dog in the weight class, "Mighty Mouse" misses out on a lot of fan fare for the fact he has not finished an opponent in seven UFC fights.
While getting a knock out or submission win would be a welcomes change of pace for both Johnson and his fans, ultimately the goal is to leave the cage with the belt in tact and if he can do that, it means the 26-year-old is still considered the best in the world in his weight class -- and at the end of the day that's what matters most.
At stake for Moraga is the chance to strip Johnson of both his belt and the title of best flyweight fighter in the world.
In a polar opposite to Johnson, "Chicano" has defeated both of his UFC opponents by knockout or submission and goes for the kill anytime the opportunity presents itself.
Moraga has more to gain than anyone else on the card, particularly due to the fact he has fought both of his UFC bouts on the Facebook prelims and is now about to compete for a world championship in the main event on network television.
Johnson appears to be gearing up for a title reign that is as long and dominant as the other successful champions in the company; however, Moraga has plans of his own and will look to play spoiler in the champion's home state.
Looking at MacDonald's six-fight resume of his UFC career, it's very hard to determine how good he really is. "Ares" looked phenomenal in his lone career defeat to Carlos Condit in 2010, and since then has appeared to be getting better by defeating Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, Che Mills and B.J. Penn in one-sided performances.
While the list of names currently in his "win" column is fairly impressive, one must remember that Diaz is a natural lightweight, Pyle has been known to flake in big fights in the past, Mills was never a UFC caliber fighter to begin with and Penn is far, far over-the-hill.
Not to discredit anything MacDonald has done in the past, but Saturday's fight against Ellenberger will be the most telling of his career thus far.
Sure, Ellenberger has flaws just like every other fighter, but at this point in his career his skillset is more threatening than anyone MacDonald has faced in the past, and this fight will determine how good MacDonald really is.
Many feel it's unfair that MacDonald is ranked as the No. 3 welterweight contender in the world since he has zero top-10 wins on his resume; however, a victory over "The Juggernaut" would not only justify the ranking he has now, but it was also prove that he also has what it takes to keep moving up towards the top spot.
After listening to all the pre-fight media going into the event, it's not hard to determine Ellenberger has a bit of a chip on his shoulder going into UFC on FOX 8 and plans to make a statement against an "overhyped" MacDonald.
Ellenberger is unhappy that he is ranked below "Ares," whom he feels has been built up by the media and doesn't have nearly as impressive of a resume as himself.
If there needed to be any added incentive, Ellenberger has stated publicly that UFC officials have informed him that if he wins, a title shot against the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks is on deck. And while Dana White hasn't confirmed this statement by Ellenberger, if true it only raises the stakes in what is already an extremely meaningful fight.
While Ellenberger had a bit of a stumble against Martin Kampmann last year, he has still won eight of his last nine overall and a victory over MacDonald would solidify his place as the next legitimate title challenger at 170-pounds.
What do you think a win means on Saturday for these four men? Let us know in the comments section below!
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight night (Sat., July 27, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts and then main card action, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
For more news and notes on UFC on FOX 8, be sure to check out our complete event archive right here.