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Winner's Circle! UFC Fight Night 63 preview for 'Mendes vs. Lamas' in Fairfax

What could victory mean for Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Al Iaquinta, and Jorge Masvidal ahead of their respective headlining bouts this weekend (Sat., April 4, 2015) at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia? ponders the consequences below.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans are never quite satisfied with the present, as the focus is seemingly always centered around the future and "what's next."

But it is not only the fans who set their sights on the future.

Just mere seconds after a fighter is victorious inside the Octagon, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) analysts Joe Rogan or Jon Anik ask who the victor would like to fight next in their post-fight interview.

With UFC returning stateside this Saturday (April 4, 2015) for a special afternoon edition of UFC Fight Night 63 live on FOX Sports 1, fight fans will enjoy a stacked -- and free -- event airing live from the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

The featured bout of the evening pits former No. 1 featherweight contenders against each other as Chad Mendes looks to catapult himself back into a fight against UFC champ Jose Aldo (or Conor McGregor), while Ricardo Lamas looks to spoil the party in a way only "The Bully" can.

The co-main event highlights the lightweight division, as Al Iaquinta steps in on short notice to take on the dangerous Jorge Masvidal. With a potential top 10 spot in the UFC rankings on the line, this bout has "fight of the night" written all over it.

With plenty on the line for all four marquee competitors this weekend in Virginia, let's take a glimpse into the future and predict what a win could potentially do for their careers moving forward.

Chad Mendes

The best featherweight in the world not named Jose Aldo takes center stage this weekend in Fairfax, Virginia, and you would expect a victory means another title shot for "Money."

The question is, how long is Mendes willing to wait on the sidelines to get said title shot?

With Aldo taking on McGregor at UFC 189 in July, you have to anticipate the UFC champ -- if he retains the belt at the highly anticipated pay-per-view (PPV) -- won't be fighting until October at the absolute earliest.

That means "Money" could be on the shelf for half-a-year waiting for another crack at the crown.

Besides the waiting game, Mendes finds himself at a disadvantage to former UFC champ Frankie Edgar, who has only gotten one shot at the Brazilian kingpin as opposed to Mendes' two losses to Aldo.

If "The Answer" beats Urijah Faber at UFC Fight Night 65 in May, how could UFC officials give Mendes his third shot over Edgar's second?

All of the obstacles aside, a win for the Team Alpha Male product this week gets him one step closer to a UFC title shot, and that is about all he can control.

Ultimately, it will be a waiting game for Mendes to see what happens between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo as well as Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber. If the pieces fall just right for 145-pound wrecking machine, "Money" may be fighting for UFC gold once again in 2015.

Ricardo Lamas

After a very poor performance in his UFC title shot against Jose Aldo last year, Ricardo Lamas bounced back in a big way with two impressive victories over ranked contenders in Hacran Dias and Dennis Bermudez.

A huge underdog going into Saturday afternoon, "The Bully" is in a comfortable position to shock the MMA world once again.

Sure, Lamas fell short against Aldo, but his impressive victories over Cub Swanson, Erik Koch, and others have proved the Illinois native is as game as they come inside the Octagon.

A Lamas victory this weekend would obviously be huge for his career, but in actuality, he won't be sniffing a title shot anytime soon. In fact, a victory for "The Bully" would actually help Frankie Edgar out the most of any featherweight contenders.

With Mendes out of the picture following a loss to Lamas, Edgar has a clear path to UFC gold if he can get by Faber next month.

If Edgar loses to "The California Kid," maybe we see Lamas take on Faber in a No. 1 contender bout next.

Al Iaquinta

Few fighters in UFC today are as hot as Al Iaquinta is right now. Perpetually improving under the tutelage of Ray Longo and Matt Serra, Iaquinta has become a legitimate contender in the lightweight division over the last year.

Currently riding a three-fight winning streak that has seen "Raging" Al knockout each opponent, the No. 15 ranked lightweight can break into the division's top 10 with a win over Masvidal this weekend.

Considering how much trash "Gamebred" has talked in the lead-up to this fight, Iaquinta has a huge opportunity to shut his opponent's mouth and catapult himself into a fight with a top contender.

If Iaquinta looks impressive again on Saturday, I would expect to see him against the likes of Edson Barboza, Gilbert Melendez, and Benson Henderson next.

Jorge Masvidal

It is time to put up or shut up for Jorge Masvidal.

"Gamebred" was none too happy when Iaquinta stepped in on short notice to replace former UFC champ Benson Henderson, noting he has "no business fighting" The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran.

The truth is, Masvidal absolutely has business fighting Iaquinta, and considering they are ranked 14 and 15 respectively, this is absolutely perfect matchmaking.

I can understand the American Top Team (ATT) product's frustration with losing out on a chance to pick up a huge win over a former champ, but if Masvidal does want a crack at the division's top 10, he has to beat Iaquinta this weekend.

If Masvidal runs through "Raging" Al on Saturday, it would be a huge feather in his cap and a great stepping stone on his quest for UFC gold.

Ultimately, Iaquinta and Masvidal are vying for the same opportunities this Saturday, and one man is going to seize their glory.

That's all folks!

For more information on UFC Fight Night 63, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.

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