UFC Fight Night 29

UFC 165 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC Fight Night 29

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2013

UFC 165 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC Fight Night 29

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    Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

    Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson gave us a possible fight of the decade at UFC 165. The full results are as follows:

    Jon Jones def. Alexander Gustafsson via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

    Renan Barao def. Eddie Wineland via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 0:35

    Brendan Schaub def. Matt Mitrione via submission (D'Arce choke) - Round 1, 4:06

    Francis Carmont def. Constantinos Philippou via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

    Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Pat Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Myles Jury def. Mike Ricci via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

    Wilson Reis def. Ivan Menjivar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    Stephen Thompson def. Chris Clements via TKO (Punches) Round 2, 1:27

    Mitch Gagnon def. Dustin Kimura via submission (guillotine choke) Round 1, 4:05

    John Makdessi def. Renee Forte via KO (Punches) Round 1, 2:01

    Michel Richard dos Prazeres def. Jesse Ronson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

    Alex Caceres def. Roland Delorme via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) 

    Daniel Omielanczuk def. Nandor Guelmino via KO (punches) - Round 3, 3:18

    Next up? Fight Night 29 in Brazil, headlined by grappling wizards Demian Maia and Jake Shields. Past that we get a lineup of deceptively relevant fights between both newcomers and veterans. 

    So what are the big questions heading into the event? Find out here!

Who Is Getting Hosed by Poor Judging?

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    There weren't too many opportunities for the judges at UFC Fight Night 28 to mess something up because of how many stoppages there were, but what I said for that event remains true:

    It happens at least once during almost every card in Brazil. Somebody ends up coming out on the wrong end of a confusing split decision.

    Sometimes it works in favor of the Brazilians. Sometimes it doesn't. Either way, somebody is going to end up unhappy after doing, most people would think, enough to win.

    There are plenty of candidates, with a card studded with distance-focused fighters. We can hope it doesn't happen or, if it does, hope it doesn't happen in the genuinely important fights near the top of the card.

    Nonetheless, brace yourself for some angry tweets.

     

What Will the Ratings Be Like?

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    The UFC continues to be one of the few bright spots when it comes to Fox Sports 1's abysmal ratings. The question is...how bright?

    While the Sonnen vs. Rua event racked up a very strong 1.7 million viewers, following events have floundered hard.  Condit vs. Kampmann halved that initial total, averaging a hair over 800,000 viewers. Teixeira vs. Bader was approximately 70 percent lower than Sonnen vs. Rua, with a modest 539,000 average, which actually scores well below most Bellator events to date.

    Why? It remains to be seen.

    The Sonnen vs. Rua card was stacked and on Saturday night. The other two cards were substantially thinner and on Wednesday night.

    With football season back in full swing, though, Fox is pushing the UFC very, very hard. It could be do-or-die time for the UFC, and that means these next few Fight Night cards could be a major factor in the relationship between the two companies.

What Will the Ticket Sales Be Like?

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    From Bloody Elbow:

    If names sell tickets and rarity promotes the notion of value, it's easy to see why UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Bader would never be a major draw as a card. What's surprising, amid the UFC's boom period in Brazil, is that it appears to have absolutely no drawing power at all. Combate reports that only 4,200 tickets have been sold for the Mineirinho Arena, where the UFC drew a crowd of 16,643 only last year. For reference the Arena can seat as many as 25,000 people, so currently the UFC will be playing at 1/5 capacity.

    Teixeira vs. Bader was one of the biggest box office flops in UFC history and that is a very, very bad thing for the promotion. Brazil, seemingly overnight, went from the land of milk, honey and strong ticket sales to being a dystopian nightmare for the UFC.

    As with the event's lackluster TV ratings, possible reasons are many and difficult to gauge in terms of relative impact. One of the most common things people pointed out, though, was the brutal oversaturation of cards in the South American nation.

    The UFC is on pace for six visits to Brazil this year, including this upcoming Maia vs. Shields card. If this one also winds up being a dud, it could very well result in a serious shift in how the UFC handles cards on the other side of the equator. 

Who Will Get Cut After This Card?

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    It wasn't all that long ago that the question after every single UFC card was "who is getting shipped back to the local circuit?"

    This question still comes up, but is no longer the talk of the MMA world. On this card, though, there are several fighters a loss away from negotiating a deal with Bellator.

    Joey Beltran is one such fighter, and owns an ugly 2-5 (1) record over his last eight. Rousimar Palhares (two-fight losing streak), Chris Cariaso (two-fight losing streak), Illiarde Santos (0-2 UFC record) and David Mitchell (1-3 in his last four) are all likely cuts if they lose.

    Fabio Maldonado, Yan Cabral, Hacran Dias and Rodrigo Damm are also possibly facing the axe as well.

    None of these fighters are especially relevant, mind you. The only one of these fighters that is arguably even close to the top-20 of a division is Cariaso, who is eighth in the super-thin flyweight division.

    What that means, though, is there are plenty of folks on this card that the UFC would have no qualms about cutting loose.

Will We Get a Title Contender out of Dillashaw vs. Assuncao?

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    The UFC's bantamweight division may seem like Renan Barao and Urijah Faber sitting on top of a pile of nobodies, but there are two fighters that have quietly climbed up that pile, too. 

    Those fighters happen to be Raphael Assuncao and TJ Dillashaw, who are scheduled to face off at Fight Night 29.

    Assuncao is a five-fight WEC veteran. After a 16-4 run at lightweight and featherweight, he dropped to 135 lbs and has been perfect since, racking up four straight wins in the UFC.

    TJ Dillashaw, meanwhile, is the TUF14 bantamweight runner-up and a fairly accomplished NCAA wrestler. He lost the final TUF14 fight by decision to eventual flyweight contender John Dodson, but is 4-0 since.

    Neither fighter has any wins over any noteworthy bantamweights, but wins are still the primary currency when it comes to title shots (well...in theory) and one of these two is going to end the night with five in a row.

    The scheduling is somewhat awkward, given Dominick Cruz's potential return in early 2014. Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald may or may not also produce a potential title bout.

    However, if Cruz can't be ready in time, or even if Barao wants to get right back in the cage, this fight could determine the next man to fight for the interim bantamweight belt.

Can Matt Hamill Stop Thiago Silva's Climb to Contendership?

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    Don't look now, but Thiago Silva is climbing back to relevance. 

    The enduring light heavyweight knockout artist has been near the top of the division since 2008. While his title aspirations were put on hold by a Lyoto Machida punch to the throat in 2009, it was in 2011 that he became the person fans know him as today...an arrogant, drug-fueled prima donna.

    He beat Brandon Vera in a convincing fashion at UFC 125, taunting and showboating throughout the fight. After it was revealed that his urine sample turned out to be...not urine.

    In a true show of his character, he lied about it until being boxed into a corner, at which point he admitted to knowingly taking steroids in preparation for the fight and submitting a synthetic urine sample when his options ran out.

    Showing how much he learned from that experience, he was suspended a second time in 2012 after he tested positive for marijuana.

    Both those fights that earned him suspensions, though, were wins. His most recent fight, against former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante was also a win.

    With Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua tumbling down the rankings, Lyoto Machida headed to 185 pounds. Gegard Mousasi and Chael Sonnen are both possibly making similar moves.

    There is plenty of room opening up near the top of the light heavyweight division. Three stoppage victories in a row alongside his previous success would fast-track him towards a title shot in late 2014, whether anyone likes it or not. It's on Matt Hamill to stop it.

Will Dong-Hyun Kim Finally Get Some Appreciation?

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    That right there is a picture of Korean welterweight Dong-Hyun Kim mauling current lightweight top contender TJ Grant. 

    There are similar pictures of him ragdolling Nate Diaz, Paulo Thiago and Matt Brown. In his most recent fight, he gave what was perhaps 2013's most lopsided beatdown to Siyar Bahadurzada, who was ranked in the top-10 of the division by some of the UFC's ranking panelists.

    Kim owns a strong 8-2 (1) UFC record, with all eight of his victories coming in a generally domineering fashion.

    He has just one legitimate loss (a flying knee KO from Carlos Condit), while the other was a random rib injury suffered in the clinch with Demian Maia.

    He is now set to face two-year UFC veteran Erick Silva, who sports a humble 3-2 record.

    While Erick Silva is commonly billed as an uber-prospect, it's difficult to figure out what the UFC is trying to do here. If they're trying to build up Silva's star, there are plenty of comparably recognizable names who aren't as likely to crush him like a Styrofoam cup, including fellow Fight Night 29 fighters Rousimar Palhares and Mike Pierce. On the flipside, it's highly doubtful they're making any sort of effort in building up Kim.

    Either way, this is another opportunity for Kim to show off. Obviously, this is MMA and anything can happen...but man, this is some genuinely awful matchmaking.

Can Erick Silva Live Up to the Hype?

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    As stated, Erick Silva is commonly regarded as one of the hottest prospects at 170 lbs.

    That's high praise, given the fact that it's the same division that houses Gunnar Nelson, Tyron Woodley and four The Ultimate Fighter winners from the last year.

    His greatest strength, by far, lies in his grappling, which he has used to submit opponents in nine of his 15 wins. Training with Team Nogueira, he has the right people around him to become a force at 170 lbs...but he had better get cracking.

    At age 29, Silva is likely past the developmental portion of his career. Thus far, he has been good enough to beat Luis Ramos, Jason High and Charlie Brenneman, but he also showed absolutely nothing capable of slowing down Jon Fitch, who savaged him for a full 15 minutes.

    Dong-Hyun Kim beats people in a similar way to Fitch, but uses less technique and much more raw strength. Kim has also fought grapplers on par with Silva and, again, overwhelmed them with little difficulty.

    This fight will show a lot when it comes to Erick Silva. If he can beat Dong-Hyun Kim, it will show that he isn't just a hot prospect...he's a legitimate threat to the top of the division.

    Unfortunately for Silva, that's a big "if."

Will the Real Jake Shields Please Stand Up?

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    There was a time, not all that long ago, that Jake Shields was widely regarded as one of the best in MMA. 

    While it's easy to blame back-to-back losses to Georges St-Pierre and Jake Ellenberger, the fact of the matter is Shields simply hasn't looked as good as he did in the past. 

    Shields, despite fighting outside the UFC for the majority of his career, faced some very formidable competition. Bouncing between promotions, he fought and defeated Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Dan Henderson, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Mike Pyle, Carlos Condit and Yushin Okami.

    In most of those fights, he won in emphatic fashion.

    Lately, though, he has fought substantially weaker competition, but simply hasn't put on the sort of grappling clinics that he became known for. He patty-caked his way to victory over 1-4 in the UFC Yoshihiro Akiyama, out-wheezed anonymous middleweight Ed Herman, and took a sloppy clinch-based split decision from prospect Tyron Woodley.

    Against a surging Demian Maia, Shields has a chance to vault to the top of the welterweight division. There's no ifs, ands or buts about this fight when it comes to gauging Shields.

    Either he will show that he's still among the best grapplers in MMA, or we will know for certain that his days at the top are over.

Does Demian Maia Force a Title Shot with a Win?

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    Demian Maia is close to a title shot. There's no doubt about that.

    He doesn't have an especially amazing winning streak right now. His welterweight debut saw him score a fluke victory over Dong-Hyun Kim via injury. His next two fights against Rick Story (2-4 in his last six fights) and Jon Fitch (1-3-1 in his last five), though, cut-and-dry victories.

    While Jake Shields has been squeaking by random middle-of-the-pack middleweights and welterweights, Demian Maia has been showing, undeniably, that he is the better fighter in his most recent outings. In spite of both opponents' recent struggles, he has demonstrated all the skills necessary to realistically challenge for the belt. 

    If he wins, does he get a title shot?

    It's definitely possible, but there are a huge number of moving parts at 170 lbs right now. Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown is slated for this December, and could very easily yield a contender given Brown's impressive winning streak.

    Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler is another fight between top-10 fighters on impressive winning streaks.

    If current top contender Johny Hendricks beats Georges St-Pierre, there will almost certainly be a rematch.

    Still, things might just come together for Maia...if he can win, and if he can once again win impressively.

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