The UFC is back on Fox this weekend, as Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson headline a card live from Chicago. It is the UFC's first trip back to Chicago since last year's show that also aired on the premier network.
Henderson and Thomson lead the charge on a card full of potential title contenders. The winner of Henderson vs. Thomson has to be considered at the head of the line in the jam-packed 155-pound division, while guys like Stipe Miocic and Donald Cerrone could use wins here to get their names boosted into title contention.
So, here are five reasons you should be watching UFC on Fox this weekend.
The main event has an odd feeling to it, even though it should decide a lightweight title challenger.
If Benson Henderson beats Josh Thomson, he is in no man's land. He has already lost twice to UFC champ Anthony Pettis, including via first-round armbar in his last outing. That would suggest that Henderson is out of the title picture, no matter what, for a bit of time to come.
As for Thomson, he is in an inverse situation. A win over Henderson would likely clinch him a title spot, as he already had a scheduled title shot in December that fell through because of an injury to Pettis. So in theory a win for Thomson means a title fight, right?
Then you have to consider the pecking order at 155. TJ Grant was supposed to get a title shot, but he has been sidelined with concussion issues.
Gilbert Melendez could be another guy who challenges for the title, but he has apparently been avoiding a fight with Russian buzz saw Khabib Nurmagomedov, per MMAFighting.com, as has his training partner Nate Diaz (who is nowhere near the title picture despite saying that he is) according to MMA Junkie's John Morgan.
The main event has the potential to give Pettis his next title defense or just serve as a big-name main event. Either way, Thomson vs. Henderson is a fight you will have to watch to get answers.
OK, so labeling Stipe Miocic as a future title challenger may be a bit too soon. But you cannot deny that the athletic 31-year-old Croatian-American has the tools to be a Top 10 guy for years to come.
Miocic has been nothing but impressive in his UFC tenure. Even in his loss to Stefan Struve, he looked promising and like a guy who had staying power with the world's largest MMA promotion.
His latest outing showed that the future is extremely bright for the youngster. On short notice, Miocic stepped in and utterly dominated Roy Nelson, who looked like an amateur when stepping in the cage with him.
He has Gabriel Gonzaga on his plate on Saturday night. This is a huge litmus test for Miocic as he is taking on a former title contender with knockout power and a nasty ground game.
Don't blink during this one. Seriously, don't blink—you could miss a five-punch combination.
The undercard has unheralded former bantamweight title challenger Eddie Wineland looking to defend his Midwestern turf against flashy striker Yves Jabouin in what has to be a favorite for Fight of the Night. Both men are quick strikers, which explains why I am imploring you not to blink.
If you haven't seen Jabouin's fight against Mark Hominick in WEC, you missed a gem, and I encourage you to Google it. He never took a break from throwing strikes, and even though he lost, he won a plethora of fans due to his style.
Wineland is an iron-jawed heat thrower who will be looking to poke the Haitian-Canadian's chin. Jabouin will try to employ his various spinning techniques and nonstop action style that has created a cult following for him.
It should be entertaining.
If there is a prospect with as much non-Dana White hype as possible (looking at you, Conor McGregor) in the UFC right now, it has to be Sergio Pettis. The brother of UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis is already 1-0 in the UFC at the tender age of 20.
The 10-0 Roufusport product has been fighting since 2011, and he has yet to taste defeat. He beat the former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder and established UFC veteran Will Campuzano in his debut, showing that he could eventually be the real deal in the major leagues of MMA.
Sure, he showed he was human, as the fight with Campuzano was close, but he exhibited poise and skill against a guy whom many thought could beat the younger Pettis.
Now, he has Alex Caceres in front of him in the headliner of the preliminary card. A convincing win over "Bruce Leeroy" would definitely have him ahead of the midcard pack at 135 pounds before he is even of legal age to consume alcohol.
Impressive, young man.
Many times, people complain about the quality of cards put on free TV by the UFC. Case in point being last Wednesday, when UFC Fight Night 35 was headlined by Luke Rockhold and Costas Philippou but didn't have a lot of supporting names to fill out the card.
While I find those complaints to be frivolous and idiotic, you will not get complaints on this card. There is a former lightweight champion headlining in Benson Henderson, a fan-favorite cowboy who always puts on a show in Donald Cerrone and a violent knockout artist taking on a grinder, which could launch Jeremy Stephens or Darren Elkins into title contention.
The only things you'll need to pay for with this awesome card are beer (age permitting), a bag of chips and batteries for your remote control. It doesn't get much better than that.