UFC on Fuel Preview: 3 Things to Watch for During Wednesday's Event
UFC 148 is barely in the record books, and MMA fans already have something new to look forward to.
Wednesday night brings the next iteration of live UFC events on Fuel, as Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman tangle in San Jose in what should be a supremely interesting bout. But that's not all; the card is chock-full of interesting fights between decent prospects.
Let's take a look at three questions I have leading into the event.
Will Mark Munoz or Chris Weidman emerge as Anderson Silva's next opponent?
Anderson Silva's destruction of Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 leaves a fighter-shaped hole near the top of the middleweight division. The UFC is looking for someone—anyone, really—to fill that hole, and both Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman have a chance to volunteer for the position during their Wednesday night main-event bout on Fuel TV.
Munoz is undoubtedly closer to a title shot than Weidman at the moment. He's riding a four-fight winning streak with victories over tough competition: Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dolloway, Demian Maia and Chris Leben. He's a likable and marketable personality, and he's not getting any younger. If he's going to contend for Silva's belt, he needs to do it now.
There's also an interesting twist: Silva and Munoz are training partners. But that isn't stopping Munoz from gunning for the belt, because his goal is to be the world champion and he'll fight anyone he has to in order to get there. The UFC likes these kinds of built-in story lines.
A win for Munoz likely earns him a title shot in his next fight, provided Bellator import Hector Lombard either loses or wins in less than impressive fashion against Tim Boetsch later this month. Weidman would probably need to win one more bout, but a win over Munoz would give him some serious ammunition in the middleweight division.
How much success will Joey Beltran have at light heavyweight?
The first time I saw Joey Beltran compete, I knew he probably wasn't going to live up to his potential at heavyweight. Beltran was undersized and, in all honesty, packed a little bit too much fat on his bones.
Washed out of the UFC after four losses in five fights, Beltran made the decision to drop to light heavyweight. He scored a win on the independent circuit, then found a way back into the UFC when they needed an opponent for James te Huna.
Beltran likely won't ever be a top light heavyweight. He just doesn't have the same level of skill as the guys near the top of the division. But there's no question that 205 pounds is the correct weight for "The Mexecutioner," so he's setting himself up for success.
Te Huna is a tough and durable opponent, but those are words we also use to describe Beltran. At the very least, we're in for one heck of a fight between these two on Wednesday night.
Will T.J. Dillashaw continue to live up to his potential?
Dillashaw was the unquestioned favorite going into the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter, and he lived up to most of that potential by making it to the finals. Dillashaw lost in a shocker to John Dodson in a fight where he was the heavy favorite going in.
But he rebounded in his first proper UFC fight, beating the dangerous Walel Watson in an utterly dominant decision earlier this year.
Dillashaw is surrounded by an excellent camp at Team Alpha Male. Training with Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez on a daily basis will certainly sharpen your skills, and Dillashaw has reaped the benefits in terms of boosting his all-round skills.
He's also the most competitive person I've ever known—Faber and Benavidez would tell you the same thing—and hates losing at anything.
That trait has enabled him to quickly become one of the best bantamweight prospects in the world. A win over Vaughn Lee would enable him to take yet another step towards the top of the division.
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