A win's a win.
UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw" takes place this Saturday night (May 24, 2014) inside Las Vegas' storied MGM Grand Garden Arena, and in the main event, UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will put his coveted title on the line against the rising T.J. Dillashaw.
"The Baron" will be looking to make it 33 consecutive victories in his career, while the Team Alpha Male standout participates in his first championship bout.
The stakes are high in the co-main event, as well, as mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Dan Henderson battles former Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix winner Daniel Cormier in a bout with title implications written all over it.
The winner of their contest could very well be next in line for a light heavyweight title shot, as expectations are he would face the victor of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson.
With the majority of this pay-per-view (PPV) card's excitement focused on these two bouts, let's look into the near future and map out what a victory on Saturday night might mean for these four combat sports stars.
What could Barao possibly accomplish other than being arguably the most dominant champion on the entire roster?
He would improve his UFC win streak, which is the longest among current bantamweights in the division, not to mention his unbeaten streak which dates back to 2005.
Champions such as Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, and Jose Aldo have been doing significant damage in their respective battles, but when it comes to "The Baron," he's outclassed everyone he's faced up until now and rarely faced any danger whatsoever.
The Brazilian would keep on trucking with his fourth title defense, anticipating another challenger who would most likely have a limited chance to give him a run for his money.
The interesting part here would be to see if Barao could increase his popularity with fans. He's already a hot commodity among diehards, but he's not really a big seller when it comes to casual folks. UFC boss Dana White has held him in high praise for awhile now, yet his grandeur isn't where it should be in terms of selling PPVs or filling out arenas.
It's the same old situation, really.
Talk about flipping the switch and receiving an electric shock from hell.
Dillashaw isn't supposed to beat Barao by any means, according to the bookies, and the odds are he's going to become another one of "The Baron's" victims.
If the young stud does shock the world, it would not only be the biggest upset in bantamweight history (including outside of UFC), his win could also be on the same level as Matt Serra over Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69 or Fabricio Werdum over Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Werdum."
Maybe we wouldn't be able to build stories off the victory for years to come, but the magnitude would be similar.
As for the division, it would be wide open.
There's a good chance "The Viper" may need to give his adversary a rematch; however, he'd be eager to face Barao again and more than willing to begin a conquest as the world's best bantamweight. He would also be a champion with a whole lot to prove, even if he disposes someone who's being perceived as unbeatable.
Would everyone be willing to call him the best 135-pounder in the world?
If there's one fighter who's close to being immortal, it's the Temecula native.
Henderson's accolades include championships in PRIDE and Strikeforce, as well as winning his fair share of tournaments, too. There's only one obstacle left to accomplish in his career, and that's acquiring UFC gold.
Beating Cormier would be more than impressive, since the 43-year-old slugger would hand his adversary the first loss of his career.
With that being said, "Hendo's" win would also rotate the plans at light heavyweight, since Cormier would be robbed of fighting the winner of Jones vs. Gustafsson. We know "DC" has mad beef with "Bones," but they would need to settle their score somewhere down the road. Henderson could make a claim for a title shot, which would be rightfully deserved, since outside of "The Mauler," there aren't many legitimate challengers.
Can the owner of the "H-Bomb" book a fight with Jones that will actually materialize this time around?
Only time will tell.
For starters, it's better beating a legend than a Starbucks employee.
Not only would a win over Henderson be Cormier's first significant victory since dropping down to the light heavyweight division, it would also be his biggest UFC win to date after going 3-0 in the organization.
Plus, there's financial gain here, too.
Apart from the big payday Cormier would obtain, his presence would be confirmed as the next light heavyweight title challenger. There's a chance the promotion backtracks on plans because of timing issues, but if I'm the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) coach, why not sit on the sidelines?
The light heavyweight division has a crop of good fighters, but let's be real: "Bones" has been cleaning house, and if UFC plays its cards right, they could book a grudge match between the champion (provided he wins) against one of his stiffest challenges ever (I know we hear that often these days, but this time, it would probably be true).
No pressure, Daniel.