UFC Fight Night 38 Results: Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 39

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2014

UFC Fight Night 38 Results: Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 39

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    UFC Fight Night 38 is done. The results are as follows:

    UFC Fight Night 38 Card

    • Dan Henderson defeats Mauricio Rua by TKO at 1:31 of the first round
    • C.B. Dollaway defeats Cezar Ferreira by TKO at 0:39 of the first round
    • Leonardo Santos and Norman Parke fight to a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
    • Fabio Maldonado defeats Gian Villante by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Michel Prazeres defeats Mairbek Taisumov by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
    • Rony Jason defeats Steven Siler by TKO at 1:17 of the first round
    • Thiago Santos defeats Rony Markes by TKO at 0:53 of the first round
    • Jussier Formiga defeats Scott Jorgensen via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:07 of the first round
    • Kenny Robertson defeats Thiago Perpetuo via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:45 of the first round
    • Hans Stringer defeats Francimar Barroso  by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
    • Godofredo Pepey defeats Noad Lahat by KO 2:39 of the first round

    Next up? UFC Fight Night 39.

    UFC Fight Pass continues to put forward lackluster cards that are difficult to get excited for. Headlined by Roy Nelson vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and backed up by pretty much nothing, we have a card filled with unfamiliar names that range from middling veterans to guys who just haven't been around very long.

    So what is worth talking about ahead of the event? Find out right here!

So Who Bought Fight Pass for This?

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    So there's a lot of debate going on regarding UFC Fight Pass right now. 

    Are we being to hard on it? Will it live up to the potential it has? Is it actually great, and we're all just being negative nancies?

    One thing that's beyond question at this point, though, is that the Fight Pass-exclusive cards have generally been pretty bad.

    Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim was absolutely devoid of names or intrigue, and didn't even effectively pander the new region the card was supposed to be designed for. The TUF: China Finale was an absolute nightmare that only had eight fights and failed to showcase any legitimate Chinese talent.

    Gustafsson vs. Manuwa sported a good headline with little behind it and even then wasn't a true "Fight Pass" card since it was actually put on network TV in England, a historically solid market for the UFC.

    Fight Night 39, though, might just be the worst of all.

    The main event, a heavyweight bout between Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, would be a mid-main card fight in any other situation. The co-main event, between Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri would likely be on the preliminary card of a pay-per-view.

    With the exception of a couple fighters, everyone else is either too new to get stoked about or near the brink of fighting for their job. That makes this card really tough for me to write about, and I'm sure it makes it tough for the rest of you to get very excited.

Is Beneil Dariush Going to Follow Up on Big Debut?

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    One of the two bright spots outside the main and co-main events is Beneil Dariush. If the name doesn't ring a bell, he's the guy who trounced Charlie Brenneman at UFC Fight Night 35.

    While Brenneman is by no means elite, he was a solid welterweight in his time who became a solid lightweight. Beating him is by no means a guarantee of future success, but when a youngster runs through a guy like him in his UFC debut, it's worth taking note. 

    Dariush's body of work isn't extensive at this point—he now owns a 7-0 record, with most of his opponents being the sort of .500 cannon fodder you find all over regional promotions—but he is clearly headed in the right direction.

    He is slated to face off with Ramsey Nijem, the runner-up of The Ultimate Fighter season 13 who has established himself as a solid talent but currently plays the role of gatekeeper to the lightweight division's upper-middle tier.

    If Dariush can rock his world the way he did to Brenneman, he might just be en route to being the next Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Will Thales Leites Continue Climbing Back to the Top?

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    Thales Leites may best be remembered for his snoozefest opposite Anderson Silva and how that angered UFC brass to the point where they released him as quickly as they could after. What often gets forgotten, though, is that he's actually pretty good at this whole MMA thing. 

    After he got booted from the UFC following a controversial split decision loss to Alessio Sakara, he racked up wins over various regional tough-guys until the UFC couldn't deny him anymore. Since rejoining the UFC at UFC 163, he has taken two cut-and-dry decision wins over Tom Watson and Ed Herman.

    While that doesn't sound like much, as Francis Carmont and Costa Philippou can tell you, it doesn't take too many wins over mid-level talent to wind up near the top of the middleweight division. Leites might just be en route toward title contention again.

    He is set to face off with Trevor Smith, who owns a less-than-scary 11-4 record that includes a 4-3 run in Strikeforce and the UFC. If Leites wins his third in a row, he will be deserving of a step up in competition.

Can Tatsuya Kawajiri Keep the Hype Train Rolling?

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    Kawajiri made his much-hyped UFC debut back in January in a squash match opposite Sean Soriano. He didn't disappoint and now has the opportunity to vault right into the featherweight top 10 with a win over Clay Guida.

    That said, it remains to be seen whether or not Kawajiri is a legitimate talent in the featherweight division.

    We all know how generally unsuccessful Japanese imports have been in the UFC. Hatsu Hioki, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Akiyama, etc. have all demonstrated undeniable skill in the past, but they simply can't convert them into wins stateside.

    Kawajiri certainly looked like a world beater in his first fight, but Guida is one of the best in the business of making good fighters look bad (but not in a "Guida is really good" way).

    This is a huge fight for Kawajiri in that regard and could very well set him on the path he will walk on until retirement. Will he be the resurgent vet that makes one last title run? Or will he wind up a moderately recognizable name at the top of a preliminary card?

Is Clay Guida Fighting for His Job?

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    I'm not one of those guys that hates on Greg Jackson. The dude's brilliant and his second-to-none fight team speaks to that. 

    That being said, when he got his hands on Guida, he broke him.

    Before joining Jackson to prepare for his fight with Kenny Florian at UFC 107, he was a good-but-not-great lightweight that captured the hearts of fans with non-stop, frantic action.

    Since then, however, he has remained a generally good-but-not-great fighter, but has almost reached pariah status due to a judge-focused fighting style. 

    It would be one thing if Guida had converted those less-than-enjoyable fights into wins—there's always a place in MMA for a Jon Fitch or Yushin Okami—but he hasn't. He is 1-3 in his last four fights, and his one win was a controversial split decision over Hatsu Hioki.

    His overall UFC record before Jackson was 5-4. His overall record since? 5-4.

    If Guida loses to Kawajiri in anything short of a Fight of the Year candidate, it's very possible we will see him get shown the door.

Is Roy Nelson Fighting for His Job?

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    Roy Nelson has been living on the edge his entire UFC career. 

    Sometimes it's the edge of title contention. Sometimes it's the edge of being released. Right now, he's dealing with that second one.

    Nelson and UFC President Dana White have been at odds literally since the beginning ("the beginning" being Nelson's fight with Kimbo Slice on The Ultimate Fighter season 10) and unless Nelson is fielding contract offers from Bellator, he never has anything nice to say about one of his most popular fighters.

    While the UFC is yet to outright release a fighter because White doesn't like them, being on a two-fight losing streak certainly doesn't help his standing with the promotion.

    Worse yet, Nelson's recent losses have been snoozers (more or less). While he was beaten by Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum in gutsy performances where he inexplicably survived 15 minutes minutes of getting punched in the face, his losses to Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier have been substantially less exciting, as either fighter simply stuck him and moved around him for the entire fight.

    All that is to say Nelson needs a win here to ensure his continued employment by the UFC. A three-fight losing streak, especially a less-than-exciting one and being in White's doghouse is a combination very few fighters can survive.

What Will We See out of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira?

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    Nogueira may be weathered at this point in his career, but there's no denying that he can still hang with a lot of the current crowd at heavyweight. His grappling skills need no introduction, and he has deceptively good hands. 

    So how will he tackle the Nelson puzzle?

    It will be interesting to see. Obviously, Nelson has all the one-punch knockout power in the world and is capable of flooring anybody with one of his signature overhand rights. For a less-than-perfect boxer, that makes a willingness to stand with Nelson somewhat dangerous.

    Meanwhile, we constantly hear about Nelson's jiu-jitsu chops, but have yet to actually see him on the ground. Could that finally change?

    Oh, and there's the actual discussion about how much the 37-year-old Nogueira has left in the tank, and whether or not he has it in him to beat somebody like Nelson, who has a defined skill-set and a few years of competition lying ahead of him. 

    How well Nogueira performs here will be a barometer when it comes to how much he has left ahead of retirement.