Winning is everything.
The cliched adage is never more true than in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). In a sport where the objective is to impose physical harm on your opponent in order to win, a victory is the difference between being the hammer or being the nail.
This weekend (Sat., Jan. 3, 2015), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks off 2015 with a doozy of a card in UFC 182. Headlining the event from Las Vegas, Nevada will be the highly anticipated light heavyweight title fight between two of the very best fighters in the world in UFC champion Jon Jones and No. 1 contender Daniel Cormier.
The co-main event is equally as exciting, featuring fan-favorite finishing machine Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone taking on the undefeated prospect Myles "Fury" Jury. With a potential title shot on the line, the stakes could not be higher for this lightweight contest.
With bragging rights and a title on the line this Saturday night, winning is absolutely paramount. With that being said, let's take a glimpse into the future and predict what victory could potentially mean for each competitor.
Could a victory earn Jones the title of "greatest of all time"?
In the relatively young sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) the Michael Jordan has long been Anderson "The Spider" Silva. The former longtime UFC middleweight champion reigned atop the 185 pound division for six years, dominating his opposition in jaw-dropping fashion nearly every time out.
Silva's performances in each successive fight only grew his aura of invincibility and his legend as the greatest fighter to ever grace the Octagon. Even after losing twice to current champion Chris Weidman, many still consider Silva to be the greatest fighter in MMA history.
If Jon "Bones" Jones defeats Daniel Cormier on Saturday night, defeating yet another seemingly indomitable threat to his title reign, it would be hard to argue whether or not Jones is the greatest talent the sport has ever seen.
Jones list of victims is unparalleled as he has defeated Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Vitor Belfort, Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, Glover Teixeira, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, and Chael Sonnen among others.
While Jones does have a "loss" on his record, it was a disqualification due to illegal elbow strikes amidst his utter domination over Matt Hamill. If Jones had not been disqualified that evening, a victory over Cormier this weekend would have tied Jones with Silva for the longest winning streak in UFC history at 16.
As Jones himself has mentioned before, this fight is a lot more meaningful than just defeating Daniel Cormier. A victory over the undefeated former Olympic wrestler will not only give Jones his eighth straight title defense, but it will solidify him as the greatest fighter in UFC history.
Can Cormier become the next Chris Weidman?
In similar vain to Anderson Silva before him, every successive fight Jones wins, his aura of invincibility grows. While their opposition truly believe in their heart they have what it takes to defeat them, the facts are that essentially no one has even come close.
If you recall, prior to Silva facing off against Chris Weidman for the first time at UFC 162, many pundits and fans alike wondered if Weidman was truly the man to dethrone the legendary middleweight champion. Of course, Weidman himself was uberly confident, as he correctly predicted he would defeat Silva, and then rematch him again to prove it was not a fluke.
The UFC 182 main event has a similar storyline in some ways to UFC 162. Cormier has praised Jones as the best fighter in the sport today, but he is confident that he has the tools to defeat the champion. In fact, Cormier is certain he will return home with the belt around his waist this weekend.
The question is, can Cormier accomplish the seemingly insurmountable feat of defeating Jon Jones? Can Daniel Cormier dethrone the king of the light heavyweight division?
If so, Cormier will rewrite the history books and replace Jones' name with his own.
Few fighters in UFC right now are hotter than Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone.
In 2014, Cerrone won four straight fights, extending his winning streak to five straight dating back to 2013. In those five victories, Cerrone has earned four bonus checks and four violent finishes to boot.
While Cerrone admitted late last year that his focus is not exactly on earning a title shot, "Cowboy" changed his tune this past week during UFC 182 media day when he noted that he will meet UFC champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis inside the Octagon once again at some point in their careers.
If Cerrone defeats the undefeated Myles Jury this weekend, he may get that shot at Pettis sooner rather than later. Of course, "Cowboy" cares about staying busy far more than he cares about fighting for UFC gold, so there is no guarantee that a sixth straight victory will earn Cerrone his rematch with Petts just yet.
Considering Rafael Dos Anjos will likely get the next crack at "Showtime", and Khabib Nurmagomedov will return from injury sometime in the next few months, "Cowboy" may not get a chance to fight for the title until late in 2015.
With that being said, Cerrone could potentially knock off a few more contenders this year, but Jury is the first up to the plate.
Myles "Fury" Jury has come a long way since his unceremonious exit from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Live season that saw him lose a unanimous decision in the Preliminary round to eventual runner-up Al Iaquinta.
Although Iaquinta is having a solid career in his own right, Jury has reeled off six straight victories inside the Octagon, defeating the likes of Michael Johnson, Diego Sanchez, and Takanori Gomi. Currently sitting at No. 8 in the lightweight division, a victory over "Cowboy" would catapult Jury into the top five by next Monday.
With the division a bit logjammed at the top with Nurmagomedov and Dos Anjos, Jury would have to fight at least once more in order to earn a UFC title shot.
This weekend is Jury's opportunity to make a name for himself against arguably UFC's most exciting and dangerous fighter in Donald Cerrone. If Jury takes out the "Cowboy", the sky is the limit for the 26 year old.
That's a wrap!
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