UFC Fight Night 51 - One main event, two careers on the line

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For the first time in his near-decade long career, Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva will fight in front of a home crowd on Saturday, but he goes into the fight with the possibility for it to be his last.

The biggest fight in the Brazilian's life isn't his clash with opponent Andrei Arlovski on Saturday but with acromegaly, a less extreme form of 'gigantism' and later on this month he'll have a second brain operation performed to remove cysts on his pituitary gland.

It's his first fight after serving a nine-month suspension for elevated testosterone levels - a side effect of acromegaly - and he'll be without the use of TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) after it was outlawed at the start of the year.

Yet things aren't so rosy for his opponent, Arlovski either.

After a drab return to the UFC against Brendan Schaub, Arlovski is under pressure to perform big and wash the taste of that fight out of everyone's mouth, and a loss would do nothing but increase the chances of his career ending.

Bigfoot vs. The Pitbull

Although there's only a year in age between them, the two fighters are at vastly different points in their career.

Despite his condition, Silva at 34 is one of the top heavyweight fighters in the world today and while he is clearly a step behind the champion, Cain Velasquez, after two first-round knockout losses, Silva is still #4 and a big threat.

On the other hand, former UFC Heavyweight champion Arlovski is seemingly at the twilight of his career, despite a resurgence in recent years which has seen him go 7-1 (1 NC) in his last nine fights and back into the UFC.

Many thought the Belarusian fighter was finished years ago after a two year period between 2009-2011 where he lost four times - including once to Silva - and got knocked out cold three times.

Silva has been in the prime of his career in the past couple years but whether or not that was largely due to the TRT is yet to be seen but, unlike Arlovski, the strength of his jaw is able to withstand nearly anything that isn't thrown by Cain Velasquez.

Yet despite that, Silva still goes into the fight with his career on the line and a loss to Arlovski would leave many questioning whether it's right for the Brazilian to carry on - especially with his condition.

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Who will win?

Currently the bookies are backing Silva to win but nobody has seen him off the TRT. And while Arlovski has lost some of his power and will struggle with speed, there's always a chance he could bring the first round fireworks.

He needs to bring out a big performance, especially in a division with the likes of Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson and Ben Rothwell - who're all highlight reel guys.

Whether Arlovski can reach into the well and bring out the showstopping performance he needs is unlikely, but in MMA you never know.

Many wrote off Robbie Lawler's career and yet he'll challenge for the UFC Welterweight title for a second time next year. Many didn't give TJ Dillashaw a second look before he ended the reign of Renan Barao in such devastating fashion.

All it takes is one punch or one mistake. If Arlovski can capitalise, then the Cinderella Man story lives on for another day.

Roy Nelson
Mark Hunt
Cain Velasquez

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