At UFC 178, Demetrious Johnson will attempt to extend his reign as 125-pound champion against Chris Cariaso. However, the main event may not even be one of the more intriguing matchups on the card.
While Cariaso is widely being dismissed as a legitimate threat to Johnson’s belt, some other bouts on the UFC 178 docket should be highly competitive on Saturday. Former Bellator MMA champion Eddie Alvarez will make his UFC debut against Donald Cerrone, Conor McGregor will be tested by top five featherweight Dustin Poirier and Tim Kennedy will meet Yoel Romero in a bout that could carry middleweight title shot implications.
Furthermore, Dominick Cruz will return and attempt to take a step toward reclaiming his bantamweight championship against Takeya Mizugaki. Also, Cat Zingano will look to earn a title shot by beating Amanda Nunes in her much-anticipated return.
Most of the fighters mentioned above have never been in better position. However, the following UFC 178 competitors are sitting on hot seats heading into the weekend.
Three years ago, Cruz was well on his way toward becoming the greatest bantamweight in MMA history. He may still be, but the former UFC champion hasn’t fought since his successful title defense against Mighty Mouse at UFC Live on Versus 6.
Repeated injuries forced the UFC to strip Cruz of the 135-pound championship. Though, still only 29 years old, Cruz is now back to reclaim his spot atop the bantamweight division.
Before Cruz actually gets a shot at his old belt, he’ll have to prove he’s back to his old form against Mizugaki. With wins in five consecutive fights, Mizugaki is a worthy adversary. If Cruz can win convincingly, it will show that he’s still among the best in the world.
What if Cruz loses and looks nothing like he used to, though?
This whole comeback is built around one question: Is Cruz still the best bantamweight in MMA?
Should it be immediately revealed to him that he isn’t, how will Cruz respond? There’s an outside chance he decides it isn’t worth risking further disappointment and injury to compete at something he can’t excel in any longer.
It’s nothing compared to Cruz’s absence, but Brian Ebersole will return from a 10-month hiatus on Saturday.
After starting his UFC career with four straight wins, Ebersole was looking like a potential contender in the welterweight division. Now, Ebersole has lost two in a row and is without a win in the past 26 months.
Facing a tough opponent in John Howard, who has gone 2-1 since returning to the UFC roster, Ebersole isn’t going to have it easy this weekend. However, he could be fighting for his UFC job anyway.
Should Ebersole suffer a third consecutive loss this weekend and fail to put on a show, he could go the way of most who lose three in a row inside the Octagon.
Technically, Manny Gamburyan has not lost consecutive fights, but he did have a loss to Dennis Siver overturned due to his opponent failing a drug test, so it’s been a while since The Anvil has had his hand raised in victory.
Gamburyan‘s most recent win came 13 months ago, when he defeated Cole Miller on the scorecards.
Having really only lost once in his past three fights, Gamburyan will probably be safe no matter the result of his bout with Cody Gibson. However, should Gamburyan miss weight, which is a real possibility given the fact that he’ll be making his 135-pound debut, and also lose to an unproven featherweight like Gibson, there’s a chance the UFC brass will want to part ways with the former WEC title challenger.
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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC