UFC 170: 5 Reasons to Watch

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

UFC 170: 5 Reasons to Watch

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Just two months removed from her eighth-straight armbar victory over Miesha Tate at UFC 168, women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will look to defend her title opposite undefeated Sara McMann this weekend at UFC 170.

    It's a quick turnaround for Rousey, who has only fought four times in the past two years, but it should serve her well as she attempts to solidify her role as the UFC's biggest star.

    But before Rousey and McMann set the Octagon ablaze, there are a few more matchups to be excited about.

    Here are five reasons to watch a Rashad Evans-less UFC 170 this Saturday in Las Vegas.

5. "Funk Master"

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    When the word funk is associated with mixed martial arts, people automatically think of Ben Askren.

    But as historical as it would be to see Askren fight at UFC 170 (because he'll never fight in the UFC so long as Dana "Big Papi" White is running the show), I'm actually talking about Aljamain "Funk Master" Sterling.

    As the newest member of Ray Longo and Matt Serra's short, yet impressive, list of UFC athletes, Sterling is a dynamo at bantamweight.

    Undefeated at 8-0, the 24-year-old possesses Dominick Cruz-like range at 5'7", not to mention his submission game has exponentially evolved over his last few fights.

    He is a welcoming sight to a division always in search of new contenders, so pay close attention as Sterling makes his Octagon debut this weekend against fellow UFC newcomer Cody Gibson.

4. Davis vs. Eye

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    Rousey and McMann aren't the only world-class women taking the center of the cage this Saturday.

    No. 3 Alexis Davis and No. 5 Jessica Eye are also set to wage war in a divisional showdown that carries future title implications.

    As one of the grittiest strikers in the weight class, Eye possesses a relevant stand-up game similar to that of Nick Diaz.  She's tough, hard-nosed and loves to exchange in close quarters.

    Davis on the other hand, is a little more calculated.  She's very good on the ground, sensational in the clinch and recently displayed the patience and resolve on her feet opposite Liz Carmouche that could give Eye problems.

    It's an unpredictable matchup that will be sure to end the Fox Sports 1 preliminary stockpile with a woman's touch (or devastating uppercut).

3. Rory's Rebound

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    Many MMA fans were thrown off their rockers when Robbie Lawler came from behind to capture a split-decision victory over Rory MacDonald at UFC 167.

    It was a welterweight atom bomb that ultimately ended MacDonald's seamless rise as a champ in training and sent Lawler skyrocketing to a championship showdown with Johny Hendricks next month.

    This came as a surprise to many because "Ares" was expected to take over for Georges St-Pierre when the long-time divisional king stepped down.  Well, GSP has done exactly that, but his vacant seat is getting cold, and MacDonald is starting to lose momentum.

    However, at 24 years old, the Canadian can still accomplish great things.  Unfortunately, he'll have to get past the always formidable submission wizard Demian Maia this weekend.

    Maia is coming off his own loss to Jake Shields back in October, so you'd have to believe the Brazilian is looking to leave the Octagon Saturday night with an arm or a leg.

    That means we get to see two of the very best welterweights in the world go toe-to-toe in what could very well spell out the next top contender heading into 2015.

2. Cormier's Divisional Debut

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    No Rashad Evans, no problem.

    Well, sort of.

    As much beef as Daniel Cormier and UFC newcomer Patrick Cummins seem to have, we really don't know what to expect come Fight Night.

    Cormier is making his light heavyweight debut and may very well gas on the heels of a gruesome weight cut.  Not to mention, he's been preparing to fight Evans for most of his camp.

    Cummins, on the other hand, is making his promotional debut.  Currently sporting a 4-0 professional record with the wrestling pedigree to back up his hype, "Durkin" will be looking to impress.

    So even though there are many question marks entering this rather undervalued co-main event, Cormier and Cummins are going to go to war.

    They're two very athletic light heavyweights who can not only display elite grappling skills at any point in time, but each of them has drastically evolved as a striker over the past two years.

    We'll see who comes out on top, and if a win over Cormier can land Cummins within the division's top 10.

1. Olympic Pride

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    During a time in American sports when taking home the gold is more than just an individual accomplishment, it's ironic that UFC 170 will feature two former Olympians.

    The only difference is that Rousey and McMann will be trying to knock each other's heads off, not ride a steep bank in an ice luge.

    In any case, it's going to be fascinating to see if McMann's world-class wrestling skills are able to stifle or penetrate the champ's perfected judo approach.

    Now it has to be seen if Rousey's short turnaround will play a factor into how she performs this weekend, but until we see her slip up, let's just assume she'll come out as furious as ever.

    With that being said, McMann is no slouch.  She's seasoned, she's undefeated, she's very strong and very tactical.  If there was ever a well-rounded style to knock off "Rowdy," it would be hers.

    The facts that McMann has never been taken down and holds a silver medal in Olympic freestyle wrestling suggest she could very well pull off the impossible.

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