On Saturday night, a few major questions will be answered in the UFC as the new year approaches. When the dust has settled at UFC 168 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, we'll likely know whether Chris Weidman's win over Anderson Silva was indeed a fluke.
Silva won't be clowning around in this one. If he loses, there will be no excuse.
We'll also find out which heavyweight is ready to challenge for Cain Velasquez's heavyweight title when he returns from surgery late in 2014. Josh "Warmaster" Barnett and Travis "Hapa" Browne will go head-to-head in an epic heavyweight battle.
Likewise, we'll know if Miesha Tate deserves to be considered Ronda Rousey's rival. After all, disliking someone and being their rival are two different things. The term rival should require a degree of competitiveness between the two fighters.
In their first fight, Rousey dispatched Tate in the first round with an arm bar. It was the same fate Rousey's other six opponents have suffered. On Saturday, Tate gets a chance to show the world what makes her different from the rest of Rousey's victims/opponents.
If you've read my stuff in the past, you know I love the numbers. Here's a quick statistical tidbit on every main card bout that could serve as a hint to the outcome of the fight.
Dustin 'The Diamond' Poirier vs. Diego Brandao
Reach is a funny statistic in MMA. In boxing where there is just one type of strike, the measurement from arm pit to knuckle is huge. In MMA, the reach only tells part of the story. Fighters can obviously punch, kick, knee and elbow their way to victory.
That said, it is hard to ignore a nine-inch advantage in this area.
Though Poirier is only two inches taller than Brandao, his reach is 73" compared to 64" for his opponent. With such a length deficit, Brandao would have a nearly insurmountable task ahead of him if he tries to stand and strike with Poirier.
It's a good thing Brandao's game is usually heavily based in grappling. He goes for 3.38 takedowns per fight and lands 80 percent of his attempts. If for some reason, Poirier is able to stuff Brandao's attempts to take him down, The Diamond will be shining brightly in the MGM Grand.
Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes
Bonus money is always a good thing. In the UFC, stacking bonus checks doesn't just represent extra cash, it also helps to build a reputation as a dynamic and entertaining fighter.
Miller has done this almost as well as anyone who has ever fought in the UFC. In his career, he's collected six fight night bonuses. Only nine fighters have earned more.
His bout with Camoes could lead to another check for both men. This scrap has real potential to become the Fight of the Night. Miller's sense of urgency and toughness brings out the same qualities in his opponents.
Josh 'The Warmaster' Barnett vs. Travis 'Hapa' Browne
Something has to give in this big-time heavyweight bout. Barnett is a massive force of grappling, submissions and ground-and-pound techniques, but Browne has never been taken down in his UFC career. He has a 100 percent takedown defense rating.
If this holds true against Barnett, this fight could very well be decided with strikes.
With over 500 pounds of mass in the Octagon, that could make for an explosive and exciting conclusion.
'Rowdy' Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha 'Cupcake' Tate
Rousey likes to get it over quickly. Her average fight time is just two minutes and 15 seconds. Tate's best strategy against her rival could be to extend her to the second round and beyond. Employing leg kicks and varying up her attack is the best approach.
This is easier said than done because Rousey pursues the takedown so aggressively. Up to this point, she hasn't run into an opponent skilled enough in takedown defense to keep the fight standing, or strong enough as a striker to stop her in her tracks.
In their first fight, Tate tried, but she didn't have the power to hurt Rousey. Chances are, she still doesn't. However, if she can wear Rousey down, she may have a better chance late in the fight.
Anderson 'The Spider' Silva vs. Chris Weidman
The Spider will be looking for redemption in the main event in Vegas, and I'm willing to bet that if he finds it, it will come via TKO/KO.
If that happens, Silva will have a chance to add to his record total for Knockout of the Night honors in the UFC. Heading into Saturday's event, he has won KO of the Night seven times. Most recently, he won it at UFC 148 when he stopped Chael Sonnen in the second round.
Could Weidman become his eighth victim?
All stats per FightMetric.com.
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