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TUF Nations Finale Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC on Fox 11

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2014

TUF Nations Finale Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC on Fox 11

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Ultimate Fighter: Nations Finale is in the books. Results are as follows:

    • Tim Kennedy defeats Michael Bisping by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45)
    • Patrick Cote defeats Kyle Noke by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Elias Theodorou defeats Sheldon Westcott by TKO at 4:41 of the second round
    • Chad Laprise defeats Olivier Aubin-Mercier by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Dustin Poirier defeats Akira Corassani by TKO at 0:42 of the second round
    • KJ Noons defeats Sam Stout by KO at 0:30 of the first round
    • Sarah Kaufman defeats Leslie Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Ryan Jimmo defeats Sean O'Connell by KO at 4:27 of the first round
    • George Roop defeats Dustin Kimura by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-26)
    • Mark Bocek defeats Mike de la Torre by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
    • Nordine Taleb defeats Vik Grujic by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Richard Walsh defeats Chris Indich by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Mitch Gagnon defeats Tim Gorman by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Next up? UFC on Fox 11.

    For what feels like an eternity, TV cards have been generally devoid of intrigue, interest or names. UFC on Fox 11, though? Man, what a card.

    A top contender bout, an appealing co-main event and ranked fighters all over the place set up what might just be an excellent night of fights.

    So what should you start dishing with your friends on? Find out right here!

Can Pat Healy Save His Job?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It was just about a year ago that Pat Healy pulled a massive upset over Jim Miller and became a near-unanimous top-10 lightweight.

    Then that loss to Miller was overturned after a failed drug test for marijuana. Then he got manhandled by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Then he dropped a unanimous decision to relative-unknown Bobby Green.

    That has Healy's back to the wall, and this matchup with Jorge Masvidal may just be for his job. While he still has a great deal of skill and veteran savvy, he faces fellow Strikeforce veteran Jorge Masvidal. That's a tough draw for almost anybody, and it's definitely a tall order for somebody looking to avoid a pink slip.

    So will Healy be able to pull it off? Will he show that he really is a top lightweight, or will that seven-fight winning streak wind up just being an aberration?

How Will Thiago Alves Look in UFC Return?

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    Julie Jacobson

    Remember him?

    Thiago Alves is making his long-in-the-making (not to be confused with highly anticipated) comeback after a two-year hiatus. Injuries robbed Alves of a good portion of his athletic prime, but he is allegedly coming back stronger than ever and 100 percent injury-free.

    "Pitbull" has always had solid tools, most notably a brutal kicking game and massive size. That said, even before bum limbs forced him to the bench, he seemed to have hit a wall after falling short against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 100. While Alves is remembered favorably for his upset victory over Matt Hughes in 2008, he is actually 2-4 over his last six fights.

    So how will Alves' skills translate to today's hyper-deep welterweight division? Was he actually hindered by injuries during that ugly run? How good will he look after this long out of the cage?

Can Khabib Nurmagomedov Be Hindered?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Not too many fighters have run through decent competition the way Nurmagomedov has. He is 5-0 in the UFC (21-0 overall) and has barely even broken a sweat earning that record, even against solid veterans like Gleison Tibau and Healy.

    Frankly, it's pretty easy to liken his immediate success to that of Junior dos Santos or Jon Jones. That is some high praise, and it's completely deserved. He basically seems unstoppable already.

    He now has a chance to cement his spot in the lightweight top 10 with a bout against Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos is a long-established, well-rounded threat who can challenge Nurmagomedov standing or on the ground. He's a legitimate opponent, and, quite frankly, if Nurmagomedov runs through him the way he did Healy, Anthony Pettis had better start game-planning as soon as possible.

    So how will Nurmagomedov do against dos Anjos? We shall see.

Will Rafael Dos Anjos Be Able to Pick Up a Signature Win?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Rafael dos Anjos is a very good fighter. His win over Donald Cerrone attests to that. However, Dos Anjos is yet to really deliver a signature win that made fans truly take notice.

    He edged out Donald Cerrone with a solid, but not particularly amazing, 29-28 effort. He scored a mildly controversial decision win over Evan Dunham. He slapped around Mark Bocek but, well, how many of you can pick Bocek out of a lineup?

    If Dos Anjos can beat Nurmagomedov, that's a big deal. If Dos Anjos can dominate him, or finish him? Phew.

    The opportunity for Dos Anjos to go from "top-10 lightweight" to "legitimate title contender" is there. He just needs to seize it.

Why Isn't Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael Dos Anjos on the Main Card?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Nurmagomedov is the seventh-ranked lightweight in the UFC. Dos Anjos is the fifth.

    Yet there they are fighting on the preliminary card. 

    Yoel Romero vs. Brad Tavares is between No. 15 and No. 13, respectively. Donald Cerrone, who fights Edson Barboza on the main card, lost to Dos Anjos last August.

    So what the heck, UFC? 

    Obviously, there is an answer to that question (check the next two slides). That doesn't mean that this fight getting under-booked doesn't really make sense.

Can Yoel Romero Grant the UFC's Wish for a Title Run?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    One of the secret battles going on right now in MMA is the turf war going on between Bellator and the UFC in Central America. I talked about the situation in detail here

    Bellator and the UFC are both racing around to plant flags in various Western hemisphere countries that lie between Brazil and the United States. The best way to endear new fans to the sport, of course, is to have a homegrown hero make a title run. That makes Romero, who won Cuba a silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Games, a very valuable commodity for the UFC. 

    In a fairly muddled middleweight division, the door is open for Romero to make a title run, and with three impressive knockout wins in a row, he is already much closer than many would like to think. He faces a tough, but not especially brutal, test in the form of Brad Tavares who has quietly amassed a 7-1 UFC record with generally solid, but underwhelming, performances.

    While the matchup is 100 percent logical on paper, make no mistake. The folks at the UFC's HQ have their fingers crossed for another crushing Romero knockout. Can he pull it off? Or will reality start to set in regarding the 36-year-old?

Can Donald Cerrone Grant the UFC's Wish for a Title Run?

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    Jeff Chiu

    WEC NEVER DIE!

    But seriously, while the UFC is hoping Romero can knock Tavares' block off, there are few fighters it wants to succeed more than Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. 

    The dude is a gamer in the cage, with crafty Brazilian jiu-jitsu and some downright destructive striking. Not only that, but he also has an actual character that actually allows him to gel with a sizable portion of MMA fans.

    Sure, he hasn't actually been able to get over the hump and become an honest-to-goodness title contender. But the UFC, as you might have noticed, doesn't really care about that much these days.

    They are going to keep giving him the spotlight until things fall into place, and,since he's actually a really good fighter, it eventually will (unlike with Erick Silva, who the UFC keeps pushing down everyone's throats in spite of the fact that he's just not actually very good).

    Cerrone is on a two-fight winning streak, submitting Evan Dunham and knocking out...some other guy. Rankings-wise, he has another easy opponent in crafty kicker Edson Barboza. In reality, this is a very scary fight for Cerrone, facing off with another formidable kicker not all that long after Anthony Pettis booted his entire body off.

    So can Cerrone stay in the win column? Can he give the UFC what it is desperately hoping for in the form of a winning streak deserving of a title shot?

Are Miesha Tate or Liz Carmouche Actually Top Female Fighters?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Are Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche dedicated, skilled mixed martial artists? Sure. 

    So is everyone else in the UFC, though. Being dedicated and skilled doesn't make you a top-level fighter, and that's a classification that both Tate and Carmouche have often found themselves lumped into...perhaps incorrectly. For both Carmouche and Tate, the list of fighters they have lost to is far more star-studded than the list of fighters they have beaten.

    Carmouche's biggest win came over eventual SFL champion Colleen Schneider in 2010. Schneider, though, washed out of The Ultimate Fighter Season 18's opening round and never qualified as a high-level fighter. Tate, meanwhile, is 1-3 over her last four fights and has been finished in all three of those bouts.

    It's do-or-die time for both of them in terms of being a top-flight fighter and, quite possibly, it's do-or-die time in terms of having a job with the UFC. So, which one will assert herself over the other, and which one will prove to be out of the running for the foreseeable future.

Can Travis Browne Keep the Hype Train Rolling?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Travis Browne has looked nearly unstoppable throughout his entire UFC career so far (unless he tears a hammy). From kickboxers to wrestlers to BJJers, Browne has beaten every kind of fighter in every kind of way. He has the hands, he has the grappling skills and he has the names on his resume to already be the top contender.

    There is only one question when it comes to Browne. Can he keep it up?

    He faces off with Fabricio Werdum, a longtime top heavyweight who matches him pound for pound and nearly matches him in gargantuan height. It's a matchup of legitimate high-tier heavyweights, and it's definitely one to be excited about.

Is Fabricio Werdum for Real?

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Lots of fighters, for a little while, seem unstoppable only to wind up being—well—pretty stoppable. Costas Philippou circa 2011-2012 is a good example. Werdum may or may not be another.

    While Werdum shocked the MMA universe by beating Fedor Emelianenko in 2010, his current winning streak is big on efficiency, but it's small in top-10 talent. While Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are good feathers to have in any cap, and he definitely knocked Mike Russow senseless, nobody would call any of them world-beaters.

    Though he is clearly a top-10 heavyweight, it's unclear which tier he currently lies on. Is he with Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on that tippy-top tier? Or is he among that cluttered second tier that includes Antonio Silva, Josh Barnett, Mark Hunt and the rest?

    This fight will show, definitively, where he belongs.

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