Remember back in 2013 when Brandon Thatch was putting together an incredible string of finishes to his MMA career?

Or, how about a year before that when the name Siyar Bahadurzada sparked the same kind of talk that Khabib Nurmagomedov brings to the table?

Well, it is now 2016 and these two are likely fighting for their UFC lives this Saturday night at UFC 196 in the featured prelim bout from Las Vegas.

So, what happened? Let’s first examine Thatch.

After debuting in the UFC with back-to-back first round finishes vs. Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago, the Denver native was hit by the injury bug. He sat out all of 2014, returning last February to meet Benson Henderson.

Thatch, the bigger man in the fight, dominated through the first three-plus rounds before Henderson latched on a rear-naked choke and secured the victory. It was the first loss for the fighter since a 2008 split decision defeat while competing in Strikeforce.

Things didn’t get any better when Thatch returned a few months later, as Gunnar Nelson also secured a rear-naked choke and forced the tap.

Bahadurzada earned a spectacular 42-second knockout in his Octagon debut four years ago vs. Paulo Thiago, but he was bested via decision vs. John Howard and Dong Hyun Kim in 2013. Even worse than that of Thatch, the 31-year-old from Afghanistan has been on the shelf since those defeats almost three full years ago.

If the losses were not bad enough, being on the sidelines and watching as other fighters climb over you in the rankings and pecking order is equally as devastating.

But, it could all come together for one – or maybe both if they put on a “Fight of the Night” performance – this weekend. The spotlight will be shining bright, as FS1 prelims with pay-per-view events to follow are generally well-watched within the sport.

That means Thatch and Bahadurzada have the opportunity they need to put on a show and get back into the thick of things in the UFC’s welterweight division.

About The Author

Dana Becker
Staff Writer

Dana Becker is an MMA reporter for The MMA Corner. Along with covering the sport, Dana is also a sports writer for a daily newspaper in Iowa, where he lives with his wife and two sons.