UFC 167: 5 Reasons to Watch
Headlined by a long-awaited welterweight clash between pound-for-pound perfectionist Georges St-Pierre and the chin-smashing Johny Hendricks, UFC 167 is bound for greatness.
In a year flush with superior fight cards stacked with championship showdowns, grudge matches and boastful barn burners, this weekend actually possesses the ingredients to succeed them all.
Because for what will be a ginormous showdown for the UFC welterweight crown, GSP's legacy won't be the only thing hanging in the balance.
Here are five surefire reasons why UFC 167 should be the only thing on your television come Saturday night.
No, not Vitor Belfort. Instead, Sergio Pettis.
The younger brother of UFC lightweight king Anthony Pettis is set to make his promotional debut this Saturday opposite a newly signed Will Campuzano.
Now while both fighters have a chance to impress upon arrival, it is Pettis that UFC fans are most excited to see. At 20 years old, he's arguably more evolved than his brother was six years ago.
Given time to settle into a bantamweight division screaming for youthful insertion, the Duke Roufus protege should one day contend for a title.
If there was ever a time to log on to Facebook and not look at old girlfriend pics, this is it.
With divisional standouts like Donald Cerrone, Rick Story, Thales Leites and Erik Perez set to compete on Fox Sports 1 prior to Saturday's pay-per-view, UFC 167 may in fact have the best free prelims of the year.
Not only are fans able to see "The Cowboy" put work in against the always formidable Evan Dunham, but they'll be able to see the heavy-handed Story battle a hard-nosed Brian Ebersole, who has never been finished by strikes in his 13-year career.
Throw in Ed "Short Fuse" Herman and a desperate Edwin Figueroa, and you have four fights capable of capturing Fight of the Night honors.
Did I mention they were all free?
Athleticism vs. Raw Strength
Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks isn't the only welterweight bout this Saturday that boasts championship implications.
When Canada's Rory MacDonald, who many consider to be GSP 2.0, takes on a resurgent Robbie Lawler, two of the best welterweights in the world will clash.
Based on how athletically gifted MacDonald is, often using his size, speed, precision and well-rounded arsenal to pick opponents apart, Lawler is going to have his hands full.
But if we've learned anything in the past when it comes to guys with one-punch knockout power, like Lawler, it's that raw strength often supersedes athleticism.
Either MacDonald can utilize his versatility to out-pace and out-scrap Lawler, or Lawler's hands will put a violent stop to a young phenom's rise to stardom.
Battle of the Suits
These days, Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen do most of their bidding in front of cameras, spotlights and teleprompters.
But on Saturday, right before one of the biggest title fights in welterweight history unfolds, the UFC's commentating duo will put friendship aside and duke it out for ultimate bragging rights.
While a lot of fans and enthusiasts may insist that both light heavyweights are on the steady decline, their respective ability to ensure a fast-paced, high-octane contest should silence uneasy critics this weekend.
As far as the action inside the Octagon is concerned, it wouldn't surprise anyone if either Evans or Sonnen win on the back of consistent wrestling and superior conditioning.
Win or lose, both company men should have plenty to say when the cameras start rolling.
The Power of the Beard
You know when a small guy throws down a ferocious windmill dunk in a pickup game and everyone watching asks, "Is it the shoes?"
Well, when Johny Hendricks tucks unsuspecting welterweights in and puts them to sleep, some people ask, "Is it the beard?"
For any facial hair doubters out there, UFC 167 will be Hendricks' time to prove that the power behind the best beard in MMA has what it takes to destroy a legend.
If the man who has recorded some of the most vicious knockouts of the past two years can land one left hook flush on Georges St-Pierre's chin, then one of the greatest championship reigns in sports will come to an abrupt end.
If he can't, then a heralded pound-for-pound prodigy will make him pay, offering Hendricks little room to breathe as he defends a tenaciously potent ground game.
So Saturday will mark one of two things. Either Canada's golden child will rise to the occasion once again to keep his title, or a bearded Texan will leave Las Vegas with a little something extra around his waist.
For more UFC news and coverage, follow @DHiergesell.