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UFC on Fox 9 Results: Burning Questions Heading into UFC 168

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2013

UFC on Fox 9 Results: Burning Questions Heading into UFC 168

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    Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva are booked for one of the most highly anticipated rematches in MMA history.
    Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva are booked for one of the most highly anticipated rematches in MMA history.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    UFC on Fox 9 is in the books. The results from Saturday night in Sacramento, Calif., are as follows:

    UFC on Fox 9 Main Card

    • Demetrious Johnson def. Joseph Benavidez, knockout (Round 1, 2:52)
    • Urijah Faber def. Michael McDonald, submission (Round 2, 3:22)
    • Chad Mendes def. Nik Lentz, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Joe Lauzon def. Mac Danzig, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Fox Sports 1 Prelims

    • Ryan LaFlare def. Court McGee, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Edson Barboza def. Danny Castillo, majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
    • Bobby Green def. Pat Healy, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
    • Zach Makovsky def. Scott Jorgensen, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Sam Stout def. Cody McKenzie, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Abel Trujillo def. Roger Bowling, TKO (Round 2, 1:35)

    Facebook Prelims

    • Alptekin Ozkilic def. Darren Uyenoyama, split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)

    Next up is the hyper-stacked UFC 168. Headlined by two epic title rematches in Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate 2 and Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva 2, we all have an enormous night of fights to look forward to.

    So what topics are worth discussing ahead of the card? Find out right here!

How Many Pay-Per-View Buys Will UFC 168 Get?

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    UFC 100 remains the gold standard for UFC buyrates. How close will UFC 168 get to that mark?
    UFC 100 remains the gold standard for UFC buyrates. How close will UFC 168 get to that mark?Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    UFC 100 is, and likely always will be, the gold standard for MMA pay-per-view success. Headlined by the two biggest draws in MMA at the time, Georges St-Pierre and Brock Lesnar, the UFC drew an unheard of 1.6 million buys, blowing away the previous record set by Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz 2 at UFC 66.

    While the circumstances surrounding that card will likely never be recreated, the UFC is definitely trying to do so here.

    The card is headlined by two of the biggest fights the UFC could muster. The main event is the tantalizing rematch, and middleweight championship bout, between Weidman and Silva. The co-main event is a The Ultimate Fighter-hyped grudge match between Rousey and Tate. Even outside of those two fights, there is a great deal of intrigue and numerous recognizable names.

    So what will that translate to monetarily? The steady decline in interest in the UFC over the past two years is well-documented and obviously doesn't help the promotion's bottom line.

    Also, UFC 100 took place in July and battled limited competition for both media and fan attention. UFC 168, though, takes place in December and will be competing with the NFL's sure-to-be-crucial Week 17, the usual round of NCAA games and the NBA. That is very important to consider because sports bars, a deceptively important market for the UFC, will have many alternatives to the gouge-focused UFC 168, which will take place as the 10th card in a three-month stretch.

    That, however, is no different from past year-end events. Events like UFC 79, 66, 92 and 141 worked against similar competition, but netted between 700,000 to 1 million buys.

    So how will 168 perform?

Will Siyar Bahadurzada Bounce Back?

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    Siyar Bahadurzada is looking to bounce back from a brutal loss to Dong-Hyun Kim.
    Siyar Bahadurzada is looking to bounce back from a brutal loss to Dong-Hyun Kim.Credit: Taro Irei, Sherdog.com

    Siyar Bahadurzada entered the UFC with one of the most impressive knockouts of 2012, landing a brutal fadeaway punch that left wily veteran Paulo Thiago in a heap on the mat. Unsurprisingly, he was hailed as the next big thing and wildly overmatched against the chronically underrated Dong-Hyun Kim. That resulted in one of 2013's most lopsided beatdowns, as Kim effortlessly took Bahadurzada down and pounded him for what felt like hours.

    After a nine-month hiatus, Bahadurzada is finally stepping back into the cage against John Howard, who is best known for bro-hugging Uriah Hall en route to a decision win and a Dana White temper tantrum. So how will he look after the worst loss of his career?

    Bahadurzada wasn't unbeaten entering the fight, but competitive decisions and quick submissions are easier to overcome than having 190 pounds of angry Korean punch you in the face for 15 minutes. At least on Twitter he has continued to talk a great game about Kim, but carrying on with a keyboard is obviously quite different from jumping into a cage with somebody looking to take away your livelihood.

    It will be interesting to see how (and if) Bahadurzada will rebound from the loss to Kim.

Which Lightweight Is Poised to Break Out?

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    Gleison Tibau and Michael Johnson are both looking to explode into the lightweight title picture.
    Gleison Tibau and Michael Johnson are both looking to explode into the lightweight title picture.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Between Gilbert Melendez, TJ Grant, Josh Thomson, Ben Henderson, Rafael dos Anjos and Khabib Nurmagomedov, you'd figure the top tier of the lightweight division was already stacked enough. That isn't going to stop the recently resurgent Michael Johnson and Gleison Tibau from trying to crash the party, though.

    The recently famous but legitimately omnipresent Burt Watson wisely said to the TUF18 cast before the season's finale that it's easier to get into the UFC than it is to stay in the UFC. That is entirely true, and when you realize how long Tibau has been with the promotion, it is telling about how solid he is as a fighter. Tibau debuted with the UFC all the way back at UFC 65, fighting Nick Diaz during his second run in the UFC, and has amassed a 13-7 record in the promotion in his seven-year career with the promotion.

    Michael Johnson hasn't been around as long and has had a roller-coaster ride of a career so far. After dropping back-to-back fights to Myles Jury and Reza Madadi, he shocked many by beating Joe Lauzon with ease. While he has a distinctly mediocre 5-4 record, another strong win over a skilled veteran could mean big things for him.

    It's very hard to stick out in the super-crowded lightweight division, but both these guys are in a position to make a name for themselves. 

Who Is Getting Booted out of the UFC? Chris Leben or Uriah Hall?

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    The loser of Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall will likely be sent back to the regional circuit.
    The loser of Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall will likely be sent back to the regional circuit.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    There is no more likely a "fight-for-your-job" bout on this card. Chris Leben knows it. Uriah Hall knows it. One of these two is going to be fighting on the California regional circuit.

    Leben was one of the original TUF heels but became deeply entrenched in the middle of the 185-pound pack after the season. While he started hinting that he may be legit between 2010 and 2011, a combination of a failed drug test and Mark Munoz started him on an ugly stretch that continues to today.

    Hall, like Leben, became the most recognizable fighter on his season of TUF. Unlike Leben, though, this was due to his ability to deliver crushing, horrifying knockouts. That success and scariness didn't persist into the actual UFC, however, and he wound up dropping the TUF17 final match to Kelvin Gastelum and then bro-hugged his way to a decision loss to no-namer John Howard. 

    Granted, Dana White saying that any given fighter is in a do-or-die situation should be taken with a grain of salt. If these guys put on a good fight, the loser could persist. 

    Anything less, though, will likely lead to at least one pink slip.

Is Diego Brandao Legit?

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    Diego Brandao has a big opportunity in front of him in his matchup with Dustin Poirier.
    Diego Brandao has a big opportunity in front of him in his matchup with Dustin Poirier.Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    TUF14 featherweight winner Diego Brandao has been a mixed bag. While he won the season with one of the sexiest submissions you'll ever see in MMA, and has generally solid striking, he has demonstrated mediocre cardio and something of a lack of composure that results in an inability to close out fights as time pushes on.

    The skills are definitely there. The only question is his savvy. Against a highly successful top-10 featherweight like Dustin Poirier, though, we'll get to see just how good Brandao really is.

    Poirier has the hands and the submissions to challenge any featherweight. In order to win, we'll have to see a better Brandao than we've ever seen before. 

    The 26-year-old Brazilian is absolutely capable of winning this fight. The question is if we'll see him refine his game enough to do so. 

    If he does, he should be looked at as a Nate Diaz or a John Dodson, TUF winners who came off the show to become strong, perennial contenders. If he doesn't, he can be lumped in with Ryan Bader and Roy Nelson as rigidly middle-of-the-pack gatekeepers.

Which Heavyweight Will Become a Contender?

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    Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne has major title ramifications in the heavyweight division.
    Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne has major title ramifications in the heavyweight division.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Watch out, Fabricio Werdum! You're about to have company.

    While the Pride and Strikeforce alum was pegged by Dana White as the likely next opponent for champion Cain Velasquez, the champ's recent surgery that will keep him out of commission for up to a year almost certainly derails that plan. Meanwhile, former UFC champion Josh Barnett and underdog-turned-conquering-hero Travis Browne are about to make a bid for a title shot as well.

    Barnett is 10-1 since the dissolution of Pride, and the only loss in that stretch came at the hands of now-light heavyweight Daniel Cormier. Browne, meanwhile, owns a 15-1-1 record in MMA and would likely be 16-0-1 if he didn't sustain an ugly leg injury in the middle of his fight with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.

    Both of them have numerous big names on their resume. Both of them have the raw skill to challenge Werdum right now.

    The Velasquez situation stinks really badly right now, but it opens up the door for these two. The winner will almost certainly wind up just one fight away from a chance at the belt.

Does Miesha Tate Have Anything for Ronda Rousey?

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    Miesha Tate's devastating loss was Ronda Rousey's trampoline to success.
    Miesha Tate's devastating loss was Ronda Rousey's trampoline to success.Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    As you probably remember, Rousey first rose to fame by taking Tate's arm and bending it like it was a balloon animal. About a year later, she got knocked out by Cat Zingano. 

    Still, she finds herself on the biggest stage in MMA, with a second chance to show the world that she is a better fighter than Rousey. Is she, though? Is she anywhere close to Rousey?

    Few fighters have had a title fight rematch land in their lap following a devastating loss. Even fewer have been given the opportunity coming off a loss to somebody else. While Tate's stock should be at an all-time low, you can't help but wonder what she will show off against Rousey.

    Could she have refined takedown defense? Could she have worked on her striking? Will her wrestling actually come front and center? 

    What could she possibly do to win this fight?

Will Ronda Rousey's Tough Schedule Take a Toll?

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    Since beating Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey has been on TV, magazine covers, movie screens and every other form of media.
    Since beating Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey has been on TV, magazine covers, movie screens and every other form of media.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Ever notice how we in the media write about Rousey a lot? Part of the reason for that is because she is constantly doing something (the other part is because people read about it a lot, so don't complain because you're probably part of the problem).

    Since beating Liz Carmouche back at UFC 157, she has filmed a season of TUF, shot a movie, embarked on numerous media tours, did a photo shoot with Maxim, appeared on a late-night talk show, hammered out another movie deal, taped commercials for Metro PCS, did another photo shoot with ESPN, done countless interviews and that's just off the top of my head. Rousey is a busy, busy woman.

    So where would she even fit the time to train? Your guess is as good as mine. There are only so many hours in a day, and it's hard not to think back on fights like Gina Carano vs. Cris "Cyborg" Santos and Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva and wonder if Rousey is at a disadvantage to Tate simply because she isn't dividing her time between training and everything else.

    Don't get me wrong. Rousey should be regarded as a massive favorite entering this fight. She just wouldn't be the first fighter to have distractions add up en route to an upset loss.

Will Anderson Silva "Clown" Chris Weidman Again?

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    While Silva has traditionally bobbed and weaved his way to victory, it led to his loss to Weidman.
    While Silva has traditionally bobbed and weaved his way to victory, it led to his loss to Weidman.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Hands down, chin out is something that works for Silva, and Silva alone. His head movement and anticipation have allowed him to make almost every mixed martial artist he has come across in the UFC look like an utter amateur.

    One of the two exceptions is Weidman. While "clowning" has set up numerous highlight-reel knockouts, it has always been a high-risk, high-reward tactic. The risk part just never became apparent until Silva overreacted to a flicking backfist, setting up for the left hook heard 'round the world.

    Will he try to do it again, though?

    He indicated that he was going to keep doing so a few months ago, but he also is beyond capable of outstriking Weidman with a more conservative, and less risky, style. On the other hand, part of the mystique of "The Spider" has been his ability to walk that tightrope so fearlessly. If he doesn't do the same against Weidman, it works as something of a confession that he really actually is human.

How Good Is Chris Weidman's Cardio?

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    The biggest, and most important, unknown regarding Chris Weidman remains his cardio.
    The biggest, and most important, unknown regarding Chris Weidman remains his cardio.Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Weidman, as many expected (but few anticipated), exploded out of the gate in his first bout with Silva. He scored the takedowns, landed the punches and showed that he was a legitimate threat to take the belt. In the process, though, he tired himself out.

    Obviously, he had more than enough gas left in the tank to deliver the now-famous knockout, but this is a crucial question that is yet to be answered. Does Weidman have the cardio to reign over the middleweight division for a length of time?

    Skill-wise, there's no doubt that Weidman is as good as anybody at 185 pounds. That said, we are yet to see him put up three especially strong rounds, so fans should not be especially bullish when they imagine Weidman after 15 minutes. Against a guy like Silva, any hint of a weakness at any point of the fight, in any part of the cage invites a spectacular knockout or a stealthy submission.

    So, how good is Weidman's cardio at this point? If he doesn't score an early knockout, will he pick up steam like Cain Velasquez? Or will he wilt like Vitor Belfort?

    The question may not be answered at this fight, but it will linger on until it is answered definitively.

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