UFC on Fuel 8: Which Fighter Has the Most to Gain?

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 15:  Hector Lombard reacts after the Middleweight bout between Hector Lombard and  Rousimar Palhares at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on December 15, 2012 on the Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Matt Roberts/Getty Images

UFC on Fuel 8 features several fighters on the card who have a lot at stake.

The heavyweight co-main event between Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve will give the winner a claim to one of the top spots in the division, with four in a row for Hunt and five straight for Struve. Those streaks will make them contenders in the shallow division.

Unfortunately for both men, UFC 160 features a co-main event between Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem that will likely produce the next title challenger. Hunt and Struve will still likely have to win one more bout.

The lightweight scrap between Takanori Gomi and Diego Sanchez can elevate the winner in the 155-pound division. However, the title picture is a bit crowded at the moment.

Dong Hyun Kim and Siyar Bahadurzada mix it up in the crowded welterweight division. The winner may crack the Top 10, but that is about it. Neither are close to a title shot.

The fighter with the most to gain on Saturday is Hector Lombard.

Lombard got off to a disappointing start in the UFC by dropping a boring decision to Tim Boetsch. He more than made up for that performance by knocking out Rousimar Palhares in his second fight. Now he gets to face the No. 4-ranked fighter Yushin Okami.

Lombard is currently ranked eighth. A win over Okami should put him in the Top Five.

What gives Lombard even more to fight for is the apathetic views Anderson Silva has in fighting Chris Weidman. That leaves the door open for another middleweight to challenge the champion.

When Lombard was outside of the UFC, this was a fight that the fans wanted to see—Lombard's power and judo against Silva's brilliance. If Lombard can brutally dispatch of Okami, then the luster the fight lost in Lombard's UFC debut will likely return.

With superfights, Weidman and other unknown factors, it is unlikely he will leapfrog directly to a title shot. However, the possibility is there, which is why this is a big fight for Lombard.

The key is to win impressively, a not-so-easy task against Okami.

Stylistically, this can be a drab affair. However, Lombard is an aggressive fighter with big power. That gives him the chance to have a spectacular and exciting finish. As we all know, that is of vital importance in the UFC.

Many fighters on this card are battling for positions in the UFC rankings, but only Lombard has a realistic chance of parlaying this fight in to a title bout. That means he has the most to gain from Saturday's fight.