One of the biggest cards of the year is set to hit your screens tonight (May 23, 2015), as UFC 187 will go down from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being spearheaded by dual title fights in the main event and co-main event, as Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier face off for the vacant light heavyweight title and Chris Weidman defends his middleweight strap against Vitor Belfort, the card is absolutely stacked from top to bottom.
Despite much of the attention going to the title bout, there are many huge bouts going down tonight, with huge implications. There are actually multiple bouts that could be considered title eliminators or decide the next title challengers in their respective divisions.
So how many title contenders will emerge from UFC 187?
First up, in the “main event” of the prelims, we have the return of former title challenger and No. 1-ranked flyweight John Dodson, as he takes on No. 9-ranked Zack Makovsky. With dominant champion Demetrious Johnson running through every challenge put in front of him, the division is starving for new contenders, and many fans are itching to see Johnson meet Dodson for a second time, as “The Magician” had more success than any other man against the champion despite losing.
For Dodson, it’s a no brainer, with a win, the Jackson-Winklejohn trained athlete will receive a title shot. For Makovsky, despite being ranked lower than some other contenders, a win over Dodson should do the trick in earning a title shot in the contender-scare 125-pound division.
Next up on the main card, we have a heavyweight showdown between No. 3 ranked Travis “Hapa” Browne and former champion No. 8-ranked Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski. Arlovski is 2-0 since returning to the Octagon and a win over a top contender like Browne could warrant a title shot, as the heavyweight division, just like the flyweight division, is sort of in limbo. Although losing to now interim champion Fabricio Werdum last year, Browne recently scored a dominant win over Brendan Schaub last December, and could extend his win streak to two tonight.
One problem for each man is the emergence of No. 4-ranked Stipe Miocic who scored a completely one sided win over Mark Hunt earlier this month. Miocic could be in line for a title shot, or the UFC could look to schedule Miocic in a title eliminator with the winner of tonight’s bout.
Later on the main card, we may not have a title eliminator, but rather a chance for man to solidify himself as the clear cut No. 1-contender in the lightweight division, and that man would be Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Cerrone was originally set to take part in what would undoubtedly have been a title eliminator against No. 1-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov, but “The Eagle” was forced out due to injury, and in stepped unranked John Makdessi.
“Cowboy” is currently riding an ultra-impressive seven-fight win streak, and with many of the top contenders either injured or having been taken out by Cerrone, he should secure a title shot with a win. For Makdessi, although a win would be super impressive, it’s unlikely he would leap frog the entire top 15 and earn a shot at gold.
UFC 187 is sure to be a night to remember. Who do you see making a statement tonight?