When you look back at the short history of the sport we love called Mixed Martial Arts, there are only a handful of fighters you can point to as having very important 'bullet points' along the way. However at UFC 110, four of those fighters could find themselves on the outside looking in. No longer relevent in a sport that changes and evolves like the wind, and yesterday's hero's turn into shells of their former selves almost overnight. I think UFC 110 will feature four fighters that are past the 'crossroads' in their career so to speak. Now each fight is about earning another opportunity to perform on MMA's biggest stage. Enter Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Stephan Bonnar, and Keith Jardine.
Wanderlei Silva: Silva has transcended boundaries with his furocious fighting style, and quite possibly is the most violent finisher in the game. However, fighting against guys much larger than him for the past 4 years or so, Silva is a fighter that is only (1-5) in his last six fights with the lone win coming in spectacular fashion against someone who's also on this list in Keith Jardine. It's because of this that Silva is making his UFC middleweight debut against TUF winner Michael Bisping. Although Silva is a crowd favorite and very popular, will the UFC continue to throw him out there while suffering defeat after defeat? The UFC has released several fighters after consecutive losses in recent times, and even allowed established veterans like Dan Henderson to go to Strikeforce. Will Zuffa allow Silva to suffer the same fate, and how long will the leash be with Silva fighting in a new weight division? A loss at UFC 110 would be Silva's 3rd loss in a row.
Mirko Cro Cop: I've documented my thoughts on Cro Cop in the past, and I still believe most of Cro Cop's problems are mental, although his physical skills have erroded as well. He's said multiple times that he has had problems getting motivated for fights. I firmly believe that once you have that mindset, it's very difficult to overcome. Although his UFC record is a little better than Wanderlei's, he has looked like a shell of his former self for quite some time. He has consistently gotten bullied around by larger heavyweights while fighting very tentatively, lacking the quick explosiveness we grew to love. He got dominated in his last fight against heavyweight contender Junior dos Santos, and a loss here would just confirm what a lot of people have thought for quite some time.
Stephan Bonnar: One half of the most important fight in MMA history is on the verge of losing 3 in a row. His last loss, a pretty embarrasing loss to Mark Coleman who was/is WAY past his prime really put Bonnar in a tough situation. I know Dana White told Bonnar that he didn't have to worry about job security after his loss to Jon Jones at UFC 94 last year, but losing to another TUF veteran can't bode well for his career.
Keith Jardine: Jardine is the guy that probably confirmed the decline of Chuck Liddell by outlasting him at UFC 76. Jardine is usually hit or miss, but he's been on the receiving end of two consecutive losses. His last loss a devastating KO loss to Thiago Silva. However, that's the thing with Jardine, he's an absolute handful if you don't knock him out early. He'll be taking on TUF winner Ryan Bader in a fight that does little for him. A win confirms his gatekeeper status, and a loss would be crucial for a guy that was a top ten LHW at one time. Jardine should be cut some slack as almost all of his losses have come against a murderer's row of light heavyweights save the Alexander loss. (He beat Bonnar IMO).