Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has certainly had a wild and wacky road to UFC 186, but the pay-per-view (PPV) event is set to go down this Saturday night (April 25, 2015) as the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion caps off a hectic and exciting month of April, live from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The main event pits one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world against an upstart challenger as reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to take out Kyoji Horiguchi.
The co-main event has gone through numerous changes, and just days before the event, UFC officials announced Quinton Jackson was back on the card, and "Rampage" will return to face off against Fabio Maldonado.
With a title on the line, and the return of an MMA legend set for Montreal this weekend, let's take a glimpse into the future and predict what a win could mean for the fighters facing off in the night's premier bouts.
Let's dive right in: A win for Demetrious this weekend is all but expected, so anything short of complete dominance will likely result in a few wayward stares from "Mighty Mouse" fans.
Aside from Jon Jones, Johnson may be UFC's most dominant champion. While we are sure Ronda Rousey would have something to say about that, the flyweight kingpin recently reminded fans that in order to be deemed "dominant," a champ must first be tested.
Anyhow, "Mighty Mouse" is the king of the 125-pound division and essentially everyone is picking him to dominate Horiguchi on Saturday night.
And for good reason.
After catching flak for not finishing fights early in his Octagon tenure, Johnson has procured three finishes in his last four fights, including a stunning first-round knockout over Joseph Benavidez in their rematch at UFC on FOX 9.
Johnson is looking for his eighth straight victory, and his sixth straight title defense at UFC 186 this weekend. Ultimately, this fight is basically just a warm up for the champ before he rematches John Dodson.
But first, "The Magician" needs to get by Zach Makovsky, and the champ needs to take out Horiguchi on Saturday.
What a monumental upset it would be if Kyoji Horiguchi defeated Demetrious Johnson this weekend.
While I won't go as far to say that a Horiguchi win would be as impressive as TJ Dillashaw's title-capturing performance over Renan Barao, the Japanese native will definitely have a claim to one of the most stunning upsets in MMA history if he pulls out the victory at UFC 186.
The only possible scenario in which I see Horiguchi leaving the Octagon with the belt around his waist is if he catches Johnson and promptly puts him to sleep with his ferocious power.
If that is the case, the UFC brass will likely book the immediate rematch, barring injuries to either man.
If "Mighty Mouse" can't compete right away, Horiguchi will have a stable of hungry contenders looking to get a crack at his belt.
I would expect John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez, Zach Makovsky, or John Moraga to get the next title shot if Horiguchi can pull off the upset.
Well, well, well, look who's back!
Fight fans will now have the opportunity to witness Rampage throw down this weekend, but what does a victory do for the former UFC light heavyweight champ?
At 36 years old, Rampage has likely come to the conclusion that he is no longer a championship caliber fighter, especially with UFC champ Jon Jones holding the reigns over the 205-pound division.
Regardless, that doesn't mean Rampage cannot continue to put on shows and make a whole heap load of money!
UFC matchmakers are not thick; they (usually) know exactly what the fans want to see, and that is vintage Rampage violence. That means feeding the former PRIDE mainstay opponents who are willing to exchange with him on the feet, while proving to be not much of a threat in the wrestling department.
If Rampage beats Fabio Maldonado this weekend, whether it is by an atrociously bad decision or by hellacious knockout, you shouldn't expect anything different the next time he steps into the cage.
Rampage will be ranked, but I doubt he will fight in any pivotal or consequential bouts for the remainder of his UFC career.
The Brazilian bomber has 22 career MMA victories, but none of his prior successes will come close to matching a victory over Rampage Jackson this Saturday.
Maldonado promises a bloody war, and if that is the case, UFC brass will be forced to continue placing the Brazilian on main cards in order to delight fans with boundless violence.
So let's say Maldonado goes into Canada on Saturday night and gets into a sloppy but exciting slugfest with Rampage. Where does that leave the Brazilian?
Honestly, it leaves him in a similar place to where he already is. Currently ranked No. 12 in the UFC's light heavyweight division, maybe Maldonado will crack the top 10, but that doesn't really mean much in the long run.
Maldonado simply does not have the arsenal to defeat any high level MMA fighter, as he is essentially a boxer-brawler. It seems the Brazilian is very aware of his own skill set, and has absolutely no problem being matched up against similar styles in order to put on highlight-reel shows.
Win or lose, expect to see Maldonado exchanging haymakers in just a few short months, likely bloodied and bruised.
Could it really be any other way?
For more information on UFC 186, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.