UFC 174 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into Fight Nights 43, 44
UFC 174 is over and done with. The results are as follows:
UFC 174 Main Card on Pay-Per-View
- Demetrious Johnson def. Ali Bagautinov, unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- Rory MacDonald def. Tyron Woodley, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Ryan Bader def. Rafael Cavalcante, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Andrei Arlovski def. Brendan Schaub, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Ovince Saint Preux def. Ryan Jimmo, TKO (Round 2, 2:10)
Prelims on FX
- Kiichi Kunimoto def. Daniel Safarian, submission (Round 1, 2:52)
- Valerie Letourneau def. Elizabeth Phillips, split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Yves Jabouin def. Mike Easton, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Tae Hyun Bang def. Kajan Johnson, knockout (Round 3, 2:01)
Fight Pass Prelims
- Michinori Tanaka def. Roland Delorme, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jason Saggo def. Josh Shockley, TKO (Round 1, 4:57)
Next up is...oh God...
Another one of those dreadful double-headers.
In the morning...the very early morning, in fact, is the UFC's first foray into New Zealand. Headlined by...wait, really? Headlined by James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt? Hold on, let me double-check this with another source...
Wow. Yeah, OK, headlined by two guys who combine for an 0-5 record over the last eternity. So that sounds terrible.
The other one, though, is a relatively strong Fox Sports 1 card helmed by two of the scrappiest fighters at 145 pounds in Jeremy Stephens and Cub Swanson and backed up by Kelvin Gastelum, Ricardo Lamas and many more.
So what's on the line here and what should you be asking? Find out right here!
How Will Alexey Oleinik Look in His UFC Debut?
Alexey Oleinik (whose name was inexplicably reworked by the UFC to be Oleksiy Oliynyk) has long been one of the better upper-weight class fighters on the European circuit. Bouncing between heavyweight and light heavyweight, he has amassed a strong 48-9-1 record against a blend of past-their-prime veterans, future stars and MMA hobbyists.
He is currently riding a nine-fight winning streak, with his most recent win coming over one Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. He is looking to make a strong impression in his UFC debut and could quickly become a player in either the light heavyweight or heavyweight division.
How will Alexey Oleinik look in His UFC debut?
With 58 fights under his belt dating back to 1997, it goes without saying that Oleinik is a veteran of the sport. Hardcore MMA fans may have actually seen him pop up once or twice, as he has appeared in YAMMA, Bellator, M-1 and Bodog Fight. Skimming over his record, his wins have come over random no-namers with 10 or fewer fights to their credit, but for every five Krzysztof Kulaks, there is an Adlan Amagov or Mike Hayes.
He's a crafty submission artist and has adopted the rarely-seen-in-MMA (but not uncommon in yes-gi grappling) Ezekiel choke as his signature move. He lacks knockout power but might just be one of the best grapplers at 205 pounds and above at this time. It will be interesting to see how he handles a fellow UFC newcomer in Anthony Hamilton.
Can Colton Smith Avoid a Pink Slip?
While Colton Smith said that MMA is easy after winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 16, he hasn't made it look that way since. He has been stopped twice since grinding Mike Ricci to death, and at no point has he wowed fans with his ability to smother regional-level fighters. Now matched up against UFC newcomer Carlos Ferreira, it's hard to imagine him sticking around with another loss.
Can Colton Smith avoid a pink slip?
You know how the UFC cut Jake Shields and Yushin Okami for having a grinding style? And you know how they actually won fights? Well, Colton Smith does that whole grinding thing but doesn't actually win.
Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter featured, by a wide margin, the worst crop of talent seen on the show. While Smith won the season, that does little to justify keeping him around should he post another loss.
Will Robert Whittaker Preserve His Job Security?
Colton Smith isn't the only TUF winner who has the Reaper working his scythe on the grindstone right now. Robert Whittaker has lost back-to-back fights and most recently got his face punched off by Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. The TUF: The Smashes winner owns a modest 2-2 record (his most recent win actually came over Smith at UFC 160) and hasn't looked particularly good in any of his UFC fights thus far.
Will Robert Whittaker preserve his job security?
Man...the UFC can't luck out with the Australians. The promotion has put together two international editions of The Ultimate Fighter for the express purpose of bolstering the roster in Australia, but the talent there has proved so bad that Whittaker is pretty much the best they can do at this point. He is the last Australian standing from The Smashes, and Australia was utterly blown out of the water by Team Canada on TUF: Nations.
While he might not get cut following a loss here, losing three fights in a row doesn't get you much love from the UFC brass unless you're a "Just Bleed" favorite like Leonard Garcia or Jeremy Stephens (more on him later). If he wants to hammer down a job through the end of 2014, Whittaker will need to get a win here.
Can Hatsu Hioki Start a Winning Streak?
Hatsu Hioki made the mistake of passing on a title shot in 2012 after beating Bart Palaszewski. From there, he posted back-to-back-to-back losses over less-than-awesome competition, something that would have seen most UFC fighters get cut. He got back in the win column in March by beating Ivan Menjivar but will need another win to recapture the mystique he had a few years ago.
Can Hatsu Hioki start a winning streak?
Hioki faces off with Charles Oliveira, better known as "The Brazilian Hatsu Hioki." They have very similar strengths, weaknesses, frames and flimsy footing when it comes to their future as UFC fighters. A win wouldn't move the meter much for Hioki, but he is still a valuable gatekeeper who also works as a token Japanese fighter for the cards in Saitama.
A win would basically guarantee him a few more fights with the UFC.
How Will Ricardo Lamas Bounce Back from Loss to Jose Aldo?
No fighter has gotten hosed harder by the UFC than Ricardo Lamas. The willy-nilly selection of featherweight title contenders kept him out of the cage for more than a year, functionally sabotaging his chances against champion Jose Aldo. Now coming off a loss to the champ, we get to see what direction his career will head in after missing out on gold.
How will Ricardo Lamas bounce back from the loss to Jose Aldo?
For some fighters, coming up short in a title fight is a speed bump. For others, it's the beginning to an end of a career. Like Georges St-Pierre before him, Jose Aldo has beaten plenty of fighters into retirement or irrelevancy.
Mike Brown, Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian and Manny Gamburyan were all badly beaten by Aldo and were never quite the same after. On the flipside, Chad Mendes, Urijah Faber and Frankie Edgar continue plodding forward. We'll see which lot Lamas fits into.
Is Soa Palelei Ready to Make a Run Toward the Heavyweight Elite?
Soa Palelei owns a 3-0 record in his current UFC run. Guess how many other heavyweights in the UFC have a three-fight winning streak right now? I don't know, either, but I imagine it isn't many.
Either way, with an Olympic wrestling pedigree (albeit an Australian Olympic wrestling pedigree) and huge hands, he sounds like a potential future contender. If he can beat Jared Rosholt, another recent addition to the division who climbing up the ranks, he will be more than deserving of the opportunity to face Top 10 competition.
Is Soa Palelei ready to make a run toward the heavyweight elite?
The UFC's heavyweight division is so tired. So very, very tired. Between the UFC and Strikeforce, basically every ranked fighter has fought every other ranked fighter or has beaten somebody who has beaten them to basically make the matchup pointless.
The division needs new blood. Enter Palelei.
"The Hulk" has notched three knockout wins in a row, and a fourth would set him up to start taking on Top 10 competition. With his skill set and size, he is a true player in the heavyweight division for the foreseeable future. If he can get past fellow fast-rising heavyweight Rosholt, Joe Silva might actually have some interesting matchups to make.
Will Kelvin Gastelum Continue His Climb Toward the Top?
Lots of folks are buying into Kelvin Gastelum. Like...a whole lot. Despite having just three official UFC fights to his name, one of them being his TUF17 Finals bout with Uriah Hall, he currently sits in the No. 11 spot on the UFC's rankings.
That's a very generous ranking for him (directly underneath is the always-scary veteran Mike Pyle, and right above is former Strikeforce champ Tarec Saffiedine), but he has done his part to justify it thus far, posting wins over Brian Melancon and Rick Story. If he wants to continue his climb, he will need to get past Nico Musoke.
Will Kelvin Gastelum continue his climb toward the top?
Alongside TJ Dillashaw, John Dodson, Tony Ferguson and Chris Holdsworth, Kelvin Gastelum is helping to rebuild the legitimacy of The Ultimate Fighter. His wrestling base and rapidly evolving striking game are good enough to catapult him up the ranks, even in the stacked welterweight division.
He has had a bit of trouble of late, but the sky seems to be the limit for Gastelum. He faces a stiff test in Nico Musoke, so it will be exciting to see how he has developed since edging out a tough veteran in Rick Story.
Will the UFC Ever Come Up with a Worse Headliner Than Te Huna vs. Marquardt?
The ever-declining quality of UFC cards remains a hot topic among MMA fans. The epitome of this phenomenon is the ghastly UFC Fight Night 43 main event, which sees Nate Marquardt face off with James Te Huna.
Nate freaking Marquardt against James Te "Who?"na.
Will the UFC ever come up with a worse headliner than Te Huna vs. Marquardt?
So let's be straight. Your standard Bellator card (well, Bellator main card) is better than UFC Fight Night 43. Nate Marquardt is riding a three-fight losing streak, and Te Huna is coming off two losses. This is a near-guaranteed "loser gets cut" fight and would likely be on Fox Sports 1 preliminary cards any other day of the year.
Still not sighing and shaking your head over how bad this main event is? Well, how about that the fight will be the middleweight debut for Te Huna (who has been fighting at 205) and re-debut for Marquardt (who moved down to welterweight)? How about that it has been two years since Marquardt won a fight?
I could keep going, too. It's a bad card with a dreadful main event. It will be interesting to see if New Zealanders even bother to check this card out.
No, Really, Is Jeremy Stephens Actually Making a Title Run?
From 2007 to 2012, Jeremy Stephens was the most average fighter in the UFC's lightweight division and Iowa's parking lots. He amassed a 7-8 record against some decent competition but was never anything more than a standard issue gatekeeping midcarder.
Since dropping to featherweight in 2013, however, he has looked downright excellent. Riding a three-fight winning streak, a win over Swanson would vault him into the thick of title contention.
No, really, is Jeremy Stephens actually making a title run?
Skill-wise, Stephens is pretty unremarkable. Wins, however, are wins, and he now has three of them in a row, including two over at-the-time fringe Top 10 featherweights. Cub Swanson, riding a five-fight winning streak and currently sitting at No. 4 on the UFC's official rankings, would be the biggest win of his MMA career.
While Stephens is an old name for MMA fans, he is a much-needed injection of new blood into the top of the featherweight division. If he can beat Swanson, we could see him challenging Jose Aldo sometime in the near future.
Will Cub Swanson Look as Magical as Usual?
Cub Swanson has long been regarded as one of the best featherweight fighters in the world. Unfortunately, a five-fight stretch where he compiled a 2-3 record that saw him lose to Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas has kept him far away from title contention ever since. With five wins in a row and in perfect position for a sixth, however, it's getting harder and harder to deny him the opportunity.
Will Cub Swanson look as magical as usual?
Jeremy Stephens is a perfect opponent for Swanson. He's less than technical in his striking and probably won't try to do any of that pesky "wrestling" stuff that tends to lead to a Swanson loss. We could easily see Swanson float around Stephens like a butterfly and then beat the hell out of him like a bee.
If he can pull that off, it's hard to deny his status as the top featherweight contender.