UFC on FUEL TV 10: "Nogueira vs. Werdum 2" goes down this Saturday night (June 8, 2013) from the Ginasio Paulo Sarasate in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, and despite what appears to be a thin card on paper, there is a lot riding on the line for fighters in the main and co-main events of the evening.
The event headliner will see a clash of two of the most technically proficient heavyweight ground fighters on the planet as Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fights in his home country for the second consecutive time against a familiar foe in Fabricio Werdum.
Supporting the main event is an important fight between two light heavyweight competitors at very different yet somewhat similar crossroads in their career as Thiago Silva and Rafael Cavalcante both return from drug suspensions to face off in the co-main event of the evening.
With the two bouts listed above garnering the most attention of any on the card from both fans and media, it's time to break down what -- besides a paycheck -- a victory in Brazil on Saturday night means for the four men carrying the tenth UFC on FUEL TV fight card.
"Vai Cavalo" has won five of his past six fights and is very close to a title shot, so he cannot afford a setback now against Nogueira.
Werdum had a title shot within his grasps once before, but admittedly underestimated the then-unknown Junior dos Santos in dos Santos' UFC debut and paid the price in the form of a 81-second knockout loss.
Now nearly five years later, "Vai Cavalo" finds himself on the verge of a championship opportunity once again after impressive victories over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva and Roy Nelson.
The 35-year-old was defeated by Nogueira in their first meeting back in 2006, but since then he has arguably become the better fighter, and for that reasons is favored to win the rematch.
Not only would a win over Nogueira allow Werdum to avenge one of the few losses on his record -- it also puts him in perfect position for a heavyweight title eliminator or possibly even a shot at the winner of the inevitable Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos trilogy bout.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
While Werdum is looking to establish himself as a legitimate title contender, Nogueira is just trying to hang around and prove he is still capable of competing at an elite level after a career that has spanned 43 fights dating back to 1999.
Beating up and submitting Dave Herman is one thing, facing a world-class talent like Werdum is an entirely different animal, which means Saturday night could be either proof Nogueira's days as a top-tier talent or the continuation of a career defined by defying the odds when others thought he was down and out.
Even though he has already defeated Werdum once before, you can throw the first fight out the window because neither man possesses the same skill set as their first meeting. In fact, a second win over Werdum for the 37-year-old would actually be much, much bigger accomplishment than the first time.
While a win wouldn't push "Minotauro" quite as close to the top of the weight class as it would for Werdum, it would signify his first two-fight win-streak since joining the UFC roster in 2007 and prove that, despite what others think about his age and the amount of damage he's taken in his career, "Big Nog" is a name people should absolutely not leave out when discussing the top heavyweights on the planet.
A win at UFC on FUEL TV 10 would mean a lot for Silva. However, a win that isn't later overturned to a "No Contest" because of a failed drug test would certainly mean even more.
Silva hasn't registered a "clean" victory since a knockout of Keith Jardine at UFC 102 in Aug. 2009, and over the past few years has gone from an intimidating force at 205 pounds to somewhat of a nuisance.
Finally returning from his second suspension in as many years, the 30-year-old needs an impressive victory to keep people convinced he has value to the UFC.
Sure, the list of fighters Silva has lost to in recent years is a "who's who" of the sport's elite competitors, but that doesn't take away from his current winless streak and the fact it has been a long time since the Brazilian has done something legitimately impressive inside the Octagon.
A defeat could kick Silva to the curb as five UFC fights in a row without a win is a death sentence; however, a win (as long as it's not later overturned) means he will get a little more time to fight on the world's biggest stage and distance himself from the memory of his losses and failed drug tests.
The man they call "Feijao" is actually in a somewhat similar position to Silva as his 33-second submission victory over Mike Kyle at a May 2012 Strikeforce event was overturned to a "No Contest" when he tested hot for the banned substance stanozolol.
However, unlike Silva who admitted to his mistakes, Cavalcante and his team have adamantly denied any wrongdoing in the situation since the drug test results were revealed.
Despite his protests, Cavalcante was forced to sit out of active competition for a full year, which was a significant blow to the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion.
Nevertheless, Cavalcante finally made it to the UFC and in his first fight is being featured in the co-main event against a 10-fight veteran of the organization.
It goes without saying, but this is a huge opportunity for the 32-year-old.
Having shared the cage with the likes of Kyle, Muhammed Lawal and Dan Henderson, it's unlikely that Cavalcante is going to be stunned by the bright lights of the UFC, which means he can focus entirely on securing the most important win of his career.
Outside of Glover Teixeira, there haven't been many 205-pound fighters to enter the UFC in recent years that are capable of stirring things up against top-level competition. If Cavalcante wins his UFC debut in impressive fashion, it will likely mean a chance to face one of the top-10 fighters in his weight class.
What do you think a win means on Saturday for these four? 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 Saturday (June 8, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, as well as the main card, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FUEL TV.
For more news and notes on UFC on FUEL TV 10, visit our complete event archive here.