The UFC rewards the victors and casts aside those who are unfit for the challenge. For fighters to remain in the most prestigious MMA organization in the world, they must continue to perform consistently and impressively.
In the list below, we will go over five fighters who need to win their next match. The reasoning may differ, whether it’s to break a losing streak that would see them cut from the UFC, or to make one last title race before father time catches up with them. Regardless of the reason, the following five fighters are preparing for the next fights that they must win.
5 UFC Fighters Preparing For The Next Must-Win Bouts:
# 5 Jeremy Stephens vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Jeremy Stephens couldn’t need a win anymore. The UFC veteran is a fan favorite and has some truly incredible performances on his resume. However, ‘Lil Heathen’ hasn’t won a single fight in his last five UFC appearances.
This is a far cry from the man who once knocked out Rafael dos Anjos. However, Stephens is now moving back up to lightweight in an attempt to start a new chapter in his career. But Mateusz Gamrot isn’t a shove, and if Stephens can’t beat the Polish fighter, he may be looking for a way out of the UFC.
# 4 Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria
Ryan Hall is a completely different case than Jeremy Stephens. ‘The Wizard’ is still undefeated in the UFC and has wins over legitimate competitors like Darren Elkins, BJ Penn and Gray Maynard.
However, Hall has suffered from a host of injuries throughout his career. Since winning The Ultimate Fighter in 2015, Hall has only competed three times. While he still has a cult following within the MMA fanbase due to his unbelievably tall BJJ, a loss to Ilia Topuria can have Hall begin to fade into obscurity.
# 3 Kevin Lee vs. Sean Brady
Kevin Lee has had an ‘almost’ career since joining the UFC. Lee is an incredibly high level fighter who can compete with the best in the world. However, it struggles with consistency.
He has impressive wins over players like Michael Chiesa, Edson Barboza and Francisco Trinaldo. But lately, Lee has only had two wins in his last six fights. His incredible head kick on the reel with a KO of Gregor Gillespie was quickly overshadowed by his submission loss to Charles Olivera.
Now he is promoted to welterweight, where he will face undefeated prospect Sean Brady. It’s Lee’s chance to reestablish himself in a new division and make a run for the UFC 170-pound title. However, there is a possibility that Lee will lose, he will be relegated to the position of perennial goalkeeper.
# 2 Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns
Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson remains one of the best fighters in the welterweight division, even though he is now 38 years old. He is coming off back-to-back wins over Vincente Luque and Geoff Neal and is now ready to face a former title challenger in Gilbert Burns.
Thompson really deserves a title shot after all the incredible fights he has given MMA fans. However, this is probably your last chance. If Thompson can emphatically defeat Burns, it may be enough for him to be next in line to fight for the UFC belt. But a loss would make him fall behind a long line of welterweight contenders, and age would likely catch up in no time.
# 1 Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
Conor McGregor is at a strange stage in his UFC career. After only competing twice between 2017 and 2020, McGregor is now looking for his second fight in six months. Unfortunately, it’s a rematch against the last man to beat him, Dustin Poirier.
If McGregor wins this fight, he will likely be Charles Olivera’s first lightweight belt challenger. However, if McGregor loses, his shares will drop significantly. It would be no small feat to fight for a title shot again, especially considering the depth of the UFC’s 155-pound division.
This is a decisive fight for Conor McGregor.