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Winner's Circle! UFC 187 preview for 'Johnson vs Cormier' in Las Vegas

What could victory mean for Anthony Johnson, Daniel Cormier, Chris Weidman, and Vitor Belfort ahead of their respective headlining bouts this weekend (Sat., May 23, 2015) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada? ponders the consequences below.

Esther Lin

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will crown a new light heavyweight champion for the first time in four years this Saturday night (May 23, 2015), as Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson throw down in the main event of the UFC 187 pay-per-view (PPV), live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But that's not all.

The co-main event will see undisputed UFC middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman put his title on the line against longtime rival Vitor Belfort in a fight fans have been waiting well over a year to witness.

With two titles on the line, and the landscape of two of the most prestigious divisions potentially changing dramatically in "Sin City," 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.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson can complete his sensational career turnaround this weekend if he is able to defeat Daniel Cormier and become the next UFC light heavyweight champion.

Joining the likes of some of the other legendary fighters to hold UFC's 205-pound title in Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, "Rampage" Jackson, "Shogun" Rua, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Jon Jones, and more, "Rumble" can forever etch his name into mixed martial arts (MMA) history.

Of all the aforementioned champions, Johnson's story and comeback would trump them all.

Way back in 2007, Johnson made his UFC debut at 170 pounds, viciously knocking out Chad Reiner in just 13 seconds. Unbelievably, the heavy-handed American competed in the welterweight division nine more times inside the Octagon -- missing weight twice in that time span.

In a failed attempt to move up to middleweight to face off against Vitor Belfort at UFC 142, "Rumble" missed weight by 11 pounds, and was subsequently choked out by "The Phenom" in a catchweight bout the very next evening, leading to his release from the world's top MMA promotion.

Fast forward three years later and Johnson finds himself on the brink of becoming a UFC champ.

After six straight victories on the regional MMA scene -- including a heavyweight win against former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski -- Johnson returned to the Octagon in the light heavyweight division and dominated Phil Davis, before knocking out both Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson.

Johnson has not tasted defeat since his loss to Belfort -- who is now his Blackzilians teammate -- and now "Rumble" and "The Phenom" could both become UFC champions this weekend.

If Johnson can pull it off, he will usher in a new era in the light heavyweight division, and will have a healthy stable of challengers to look forward to over his next several fights.

Daniel Cormier

Most fighters never even get one crack at UFC gold, let alone fighting for a title as a challenger in back-to-back fights.

Daniel Cormier is barely four months removed from his defeat at the hands of former UFC champion Jon Jones -- which was his first career MMA loss.

In a fight that was labeled Jones' stiffest test to date, "Bones" made easy work of Cormier by out-wrestling the Olympian, and making Cormier's life miserable during the 25 minutes he spent inside the cage.

Most expected UFC 182 to be Cormier's only shot to earn UFC gold at 36 years old, but as luck would have it, the Louisiana native finds himself right back in the mix in the main event of UFC 187.

Even with his loss to Jones, no one has forgotten Cormier reeled off 15 straight victories to start his MMA career, dominating the likes of Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Antonio Silva, Roy Nelson, Dan Henderson, and more.

"DC" is legitimately one of the three best light heavyweights currently on the UFC roster, and he is just a few days away from another shot at UFC gold.

For Cormier, it is now or never to become a UFC champion.

Chris Weidman

At 30 years old, Chris Weidman may not have all that many fights with a 12-0 professional record, but two victories over Anderson Silva, and wins against Lyoto Machida, Mark Munoz, and Demian Maia speak volumes about "The All American's" talents inside the cage.

While injuries have stunted Weidman's ability to stay active -- as he has only fought three times in the last two years -- every opportunity to showcase his craft inside the Octagon is another chance to prove he is the best middleweight to ever set foot inside the cage.

While his victories over Silva will likely never be eclipsed in terms of his own accomplishments inside the Octagon, the next goal for the UFC kingpin has to be earning the title of the "Greatest of all Time."

In order to be deemed the GOAT, the "All American" will need to continue vanquishing brutally tough foes, including Vitor Belfort this weekend in Las Vegas.

Weidman may never reach 16 consecutive UFC victories like Silva did, and he may never have 10 consecutive title defenses like "The Spider" either, but his opportunities are far greater than those accomplishments.

With the middleweight division by far the most stacked in UFC history with Vitor Belfort, Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza, Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi, Lyoto Machida, and more, Weidman can reign over the toughest division in all of MMA, and that is quite the feat to behold.

Weidman has the chance to continue trailblazing his own path at UFC 187, and one day he may very well be known as the best middleweight of all time.

Vitor Belfort

UFC 187 is do-or-die for Vitor Belfort.

"The Phenom" is no longer the young lion who annihilated Tra Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo in his UFC debut on the same night way back at UFC 12.

Nearly 18 years later, Belfort is fighting for UFC gold for the fifth time, and although he has been crowned champion once before, even the Brazilian himself would likely admit he never truly earned that title.

After Randy Couture suffered a cut just 49 seconds into their UFC 46 light heavyweight title bout, Belfort was named UFC champ, only to be dominated by "The Natural" in their rematch at UFC 49.

Heading into UFC 187, "The Phenom" has waited more than a year-and-a-half to face off against Weidman, and it is easy to understand why he turned down interim title fights as the champ sat on the sidelines.

At 38 years old, there is not much time left for the Brazilian to become UFC champ, and Saturday night may very well be the last time Belfort earns a crack at UFC gold.

While he has not fought since his incredible 2013 campaign that saw him knockout Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson all via head kick, Belfort has no time to worry about ring rust.

After the rescheduling of his title fight against Weidman, three times due to injuries and other circumstances, Belfort has the chance to become UFC champ 19 months after his last bout.

Will he finally reach the apex?

For more information on UFC 187, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.

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