It's fight week, and our buffet plate is starting to overflow.
The first installment of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) action takes place early Saturday (May 31, 2014), as UFC Fight Night 41: "Munoz vs. Mousasi" invades O2 World in Berlin, Germany.
The event's main attraction features Mark Munoz against Gegard Mousasi in a middleweight contest, and can be seen exclusively on the promotion's digital network, UFC Fight Pass.
Later that evening, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Brazil 3 Finale: "Miocic vs. Maldonado" will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) from Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In the main event, Stipe Miocic battles Fabio Maldonado, who moves up to heavyweight for this bout after replacing an injured Junior dos Santos.
Let us look into the near future and map out what a victory might mean for these four main event fighters.
UFC Fight Night 41 (Berlin)
Munoz has been under contract with the organization for almost five years now, after a 2-0 record competing in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC). Your parents might not know who he is if they casually watch the sport with you sometimes, but most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are aware of his presence.
Munoz has only lost a quarter of his 12 fights, racking up five finishes in the times he had his hand raised. Those four losses were a tough pill to swallow for "The Filipino Wrecking Machine," since he was stopped by head kicks courtesy of Matt Hamill and Lyoto Machida, and also suffered a pounding at the hands of Chris Weidman.
This fight is a chance for Munoz to turn the tide, convincing the observers he can still contend in a house of middleweights stepping on everyone's heads to get to the champion. Beating Mousasi is an accolade in itself, and a win would enable the collegiate wrestling standout to improve his recent run of 1-2. He's not going to acquire a title shot or anything of that nature, but the important thing is for Munoz to prove he can still make that dream a reality.
Mousasi was as revered as someone like Fedor Emelianenko in the latter half of the 2000s. There were a crop of excellent fighters competing in Japan during that time, which was when UFC marketed its brand as the ultimate proving ground, telling its fans it had the best fighters on the planet under one roof.
"The Dreamcatcher" was someone the promotion couldn't pretend it wasn't interested in, as he went unbeaten for three years, capturing the DREAM middleweight championship and the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship before running into Muhammed Lawal at Strikeforce: "Nashville."
He still has a dedicated fan base, with his followers eager to see him return to the form he had in Japan. Not to say that he isn't capable of achieving what he did during that time, but he needs indicate he's not past his prime.
The loss he suffered against Lyoto Machida wasn't too harmful. That said, he hasn't dazzled UFC crowds, either, since his debut against Ilir Latifi wasn't exactly the fight of 2013. The middleweight should be looking to beat his foe emphatically in Germany, making a case for sudden contention while putting his middleweight counterparts on watch.
If he gets the job done without much fanfare, we're back to square one, with his feet more or less planted in cement.
TUF Brazil 3 Finale (Brazil)
It's tough to assess what Miocic could gain by winning this bout. Taking the fight would have been better than scrapping it altogether, but it's not like his stock will rise greatly if he's victorious.
If he loses, it plummets well into the ocean.
Miocic is essentially fighting a light heavyweight on Saturday night, so calling out most of the heavyweights in his division if he tears through the Brazilian would be a little hazy. I'm not saying this is a practice fight, yet the 31-year-old combatant can approach his duel in similar fashion.
He's beaten a few good heavyweights in his UFC tenure, including Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga, possessing a record of 11-1 in his career. His UFC record is also impressive, standing at 5-1, therefore he should aim to look good, well conditioned, and keep the ball rolling by beating his opponent convincingly.
Talk about a guy with nothing to lose.
Not only does Maldonado score some serious brownie points with the organization by taking this fight on short notice while stepping up in weight, he can ruin a potential contender's standing in a division he doesn't even compete in.
Heck, maybe he wouldn't mind keeping the extra weight on once the fight is done.
The man in Brazil known as "The Iron Hillbilly" doesn't have much to be deprived of if he can't get the job done in his native land, apart from embarrassment if he were to suffer a severe beatdown.
A victory would only do good things for the slugger, improving his current record to 4-0 in his last four contests, as well as scoring a significant upset over an adversary he had no business facing in the first place.
Maybe you could give him a nice bonus to sink his teeth in, alongside a huge fight he could look forward to afterward.
That about does it.