UFC Fight Night 43, 44 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC 175

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2014

UFC Fight Night 43, 44 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC 175

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The UFC's second double-header on Saturday, featuring Fight Night 43 and 44, is over and done with. The results are as follows (h/t MMAFighting.com):

     

    Fight Night 43

    Main Card

    Nate Marquardt def. James Te Huna via submission (armbar) at 4:34 of Round 1
    Jared Rosholt def. Soa Palelei via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    Charles Oliveira def. Hatsu Hioki via submission (modified D'arce/Peruvian neck tie) at 4:32 of Round 2
    Robert Whittaker vs. Mike Rhodes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

     

    Preliminary Card

    Jake Matthews def. Dashon Johnson via submission (triangle choke) at 3:16 of Round 3
    Richie Vaculik def. Roldan Sangcha-an via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
    Vik Grujic def. Chris Indich via TKO (punches) at 4:55 of Round 1
    Neil Magny def. Rodrigo Goiana de Lima via TKO (punches) at 2:32 of Round 2
    Dan Hooker def. Ian Entwistle via TKO (elbows) at 3:34 of Round 1
    Gian Villante def. Sean O'Connell via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

     

    Fight Night 44

    Main card

    Cub Swanson def. Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
    Kelvin Gastelum def. Nicholas Musoke via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    Cezar Ferreira def. Andrew Craig via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
    Ricardo Lamas def. Hacran Dias via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
    Clint Hester def. Antonio Braga Neto via split decision, (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
    Joe Ellenberger def. James Moontasri via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

     

    Preliminary card

    Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Colton Smith via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:38 of Round 1
    Cody Gibson def. Johnny Bedford via TKO at 0:38 of Round 1
    Marcelo Guimaraes def. Andy Enz via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
    Ray Borg def. Shane Howell via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:17 of Round 1
    Oleksiy Oliynyk def. Anthony Hamilton via submission (neck crank) at 2:18 of Round 1

     

    Next up? UFC 175 on July 5.

    Topped by two championship bouts, the card features Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey as they attempt to build their legacies at the expense of Lyoto Machida and Alexis Davis, respectfully. Unfortunately, the ever-evolving three-way scandal between Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva robbed this card its most intriguing fights and overshadows it in many ways.

    Still, there is a lot to look forward to on Saturday. So what should you be talking about for the next week? Find out right here!

Does Alex Caceres Have Anything to Offer Against Urijah Faber?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres
    The Real Fight: Urijah Faber vs. Tomato Can?

    The Stakes

    Alex Caceres has been steadily climbing his way up the bantamweight rankings for a while now. He is one low blow and one toke away from being 7-0 at 135 pounds. In that way, there is little to complain about regarding his upcoming fight with Urijah Faber...but that doesn't draw attention away from the radical difference in skill between the two.

     

    The Question

    Does Alex Caceres have anything to offer against Urijah Faber?

     

    Analysis

    The UFC's bantamweight division is such a mess, guys. Seriously. It is easily the UFC's worst. 

    Zuffa's utter indifference regarding high-level free agents such as Bibiano Fernandes and Tyson Nam, coupled with the company's unwillingness to pursue prospects outside their own umbrella, has left the bantamweight division the same as it was three or four years ago.

    Frankly, there are only so many combinations of Urijah Faber, Takeya Mizugaki, Eddie Wineland, Raphael Assuncao, Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen that you can make before things get boring and/or somebody leaves the division. The difference is that while Assuncao, Mizugaki and Wineland are all established as good but beatable, Faber remains a buzzsaw. 

    The UFC has had to wildly slap together matches between Faber and whoever is available, and that has made for some ridiculously lopsided affairs. The question with any fight that involves Faber—and doesn't involve Dominick Cruz or Renan Baraois if the other guy can make things interesting before losing.

What Lame Excuse Will the UFC Give for Faber vs. Caceres Being on the Prelims?

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    The Fight: Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres
    The Real Fight: Urijah Faber vs. Illogical Matchmaking

    The Stakes

    For the first time in either the WEC or UFC, Urijah Faber is fighting on a preliminary card. The reason is elusive, but the message is clear.

     

    The Question

    What lame excuse will the UFC give for Faber vs. Caceres being on the prelims?

     

    Analysis

    The UFC doesn't care about the bantamweight division. That has been clear for a while now.

    While the UFC has long been content feeding guys like Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald to the champion and then tossing the remains into the trashcan that is the preliminary cards...this is Urijah Faber. The California Kid. The featherweight division's BJ Penn.

    This is a new day for the UFC. One where it doesn't even bother to promote pound-for-pound greats like Faber.

    If you're a bantamweight in the UFC, you ought to be scared with how things are panning out.

What Will We See from Uriah Hall?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Uriah Hall vs. Thiago Santos
    The Real Fight: Uriah Hall vs. The UFC's Plans

    The Stakes

    After coming dangerously close to being booted from the UFC, Uriah Hall notched his first official UFC win by literally beating Chris Leben into retirement. Officially, his UFC record stands at 1-2, but unofficially, his savage knockouts of Adam Cella, Dylan Andrews and Bubba McDaniel on The Ultimate Fighter cement his status as one of the scariest middleweights in the game today.

     

    The Question

    What will we see from Uriah Hall?

     

    Analysis

    When Uriah Hall looks good, he seems superhuman. When he is bad...man, he is bad. The UFC's plan for Hall at this time, wisely, is to use him as an exciting midcarder who can provide some guaranteed excitement—essentially, he's the new Chris Leben. The 9-2 brawler Thiago Santos is somebody who, on paper, should combine with Hall for a fast-paced scrap. 

    That could make for a mouthwatering slobberknocker, but the same could have been said for Hall vs. John Howard...

So What's the Deal with Matt Mitrione?

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    Xaume Olleros/Getty Images

    The Fight: Stefan Struve vs. Matt Mitrione
    The Real Fight: Matt Mitrione vs. Gatekeeper Status

    The Stakes

    After working his way to dark-horse title contender status with a 5-0 run following The Ultimate Fighter Season 10, Matt Mitrione has since gone 2-3. His wins have all come over random schmoes. His losses have all come against legitimately skilled mixed martial artists. His fight with Stefan Struve will give us a decent idea of how high his ceiling is and if he is a middling gatekeeper or something more.

     

    The Question

    So what's the deal with Matt Mitrione?

     

    Analysis

    When Matt Mitrione fights a random regional-level fighter, he has historically looked unstoppable. When he fights a top-20 heavyweight, he tends to get his butt kicked.

    It's tough to peg where he is in terms of skill. There's no question that he is one of the best athletes in all of MMA, but he hasn't quite figured out how to exploit that advantage to the fullest, instead finding wins with scrappy striking.

    Struve has been a fringe top-10 fighter for much of his career, which is the kind of opponent that beats Mitrione. We'll see if he has mustered up something new, or if he will once again fall short against above-average competition.

How Will Stefan Struve Do in His Return Fight?

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The Fight: Stefan Struve vs. Matt Mitrione
    The Real Fight: Stefan Struve vs. Too Much Heart

    The Stakes

    Stefan Struve is making his long-awaited return after more than a year out of the sport due to a leaky, enlarged heart. He worked his way into the heavyweight top 10 in 2013 with an impressive four-fight winning streak that saw him finish Pat Barry, Dave Herman, Lavar Johnson and Stipe Miocic. His progress was halted, however, when Mark Hunt knocked him the heck out. Struve looks to get back on the proverbial horse and continue sharpening his skills.

     

    The Question

    How will Stefan Struve do in his return fight?

     

    Analysis

    Pretty straightforward stuff here. Stefan Struve was incredibly inconsistent, even before he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. He can knock out Stipe Miocic one night and get murked by Roy Nelson the next. 

    It's easy to root for him, of course. You never want to see a fighter in his mid-20s have his career irrevocably altered by a health scare. We'll see if he can get back into the swing of things against an opponent who, on paper, shouldn't pose a large problem.

What the Heck Will Happen with Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort?

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The Fight: Vitor Belfort vs. Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
    The Real Fight: Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva vs. Nevada State Athletic Commission

    The Stakes

    When Wanderlei Silva "literally ran" from a drug test, Chael Sonnen took the opportunity to snipe and swipe at the Pride legend. That was the start of one of the most ridiculous series of events in MMA history.

    Sonnen's opponent was changed from long-suspected PED user Wanderlei Silva to open, unrepentant PED user Vitor Belfort, who finally admitted to juicing to the gills with TRT while the UFC covered for him. Sonnen, meanwhile, was popped for a few illegal substances, which prompted him to declare a sudden, early retirement, and he was then popped again for even more illegal substances!

     

    The Question

    What the heck will happen with Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort?

     

    Analysis

    You're not going to see this in any other sport, folks! The future of all three men remains unclear at this time, but there's no reason to believe we've seen the last of any of them. All three, quite simply, have too much marketability for the UFC or NSAC to pass up.

    What happens next? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Either way, even if these bouts never happen, there's no questioning that the three fighters have provided us with one of the most entertaining storylines of 2014.

Will Alexis Davis Be Able to Compete with Ronda Rousey?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis
    The Real Fight: Alexis Davis vs. Somebody Who Seems to Be Way Better Than Her

    The Stakes

    Alexis Davis is a massive underdog entering her fight with Ronda Rousey. While Davis is one of the most accomplished grapplers in the UFC's women's division, Rousey has entered that stage in her championship reign where it's hard to imagine her losing. It doesn't help that Davis has done nothing to sell this fight, either. 

    While she is in the same boat as Miesha Tate, she doesn't have the long-established, deep-seated rivalry with Rousey to help you get past that.

     

    The Question

    Will Alexis Davis be able to compete with Ronda Rousey?

     

    Analysis

    Alexis Davis most certainly earned a title shot. She is on a five-fight winning streak that includes wins over Shayna Baszler, Liz Carmouche and Jessica Eye. Not only that, but with Rousey's recent win over Sara McMann, Davis might be the only woman in the division who could conceivably have a chance at beating the champion...maybe.

    But man, it's hard to imagine a scenario where that happens. Naturally, Davis can make everyone who doubted her look the fool with anything resembling a competitive affair. I was at the forefront of the "BJ Penn will ruin this Frankie Edgar character" movement back in 2010, so I'm not opposed to saying I was wrong.

    We'll see if Davis is more Edgar...or more Glover Teixeira.

What Should We Make of Ronda Rousey Getting Second Billing...Again?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis
    The Real Fight: Being the Biggest Draw in MMA vs. Perceptions

    The Stakes

    Ronda Rousey, the biggest draw in MMA, finds herself playing second fiddle to Chris Weidman. Again. While there is no doubt about how good she is among people of average or greater intelligence, it's tough to read whether or not she really fits the bill the UFC has given her. 

     

    The Question

    What should we make of Ronda Rousey getting second billing...again?

     

    Analysis

    To reiterate, there's no question that Rousey is an elite talent. Every ugly fight involving the Jessica Eyes, Sarah Kaufmans and Liz Carmouches of the division is just a testament to how special a fighter the champion really is.

    The thing is, while UFC President Dana White is quick to say that she is the biggest draw in MMA and even quicker to personally attack anybody who he thinks might be questioning that, the UFC consistently gives her plenty of backup every time she fights.

    What, oh what, should fans think of that?

    It's possible that her placement on the card with Weidman is an attempt to shift casual fans' perception of the middleweight champ. Feelings are still mixed regarding how he stacks up as a champion and even whether or not he is the "true" champion. Subtly saying "this guy is bigger than Rousey" is no small thing.

    Then again, the two times she headlined a card, she was accompanied by names like Daniel Cormier, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Dan Henderson, Rory MacDonald and Urijah Faber. That speaks volumes when compared to Jon Jones, who once had Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron co-headlining with him.

How Will Chris Weidman Do Against Lyoto Machida?

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The Fight: Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida
    The Real Fight: Chris Weidman vs. Worst Possible Matchup Imaginable

    The Stakes

    Chris Weidman is set to defend his title for the first time against somebody who isn't Anderson Silva. While he was originally scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort, wacky TRT-related circumstances eventually led to him facing Lyoto Machida. Now, in a legacy-making fight, Weidman gets to establish himself as a champion for the ages or somebody who, just maybe, lucked his way into the UFC belt only to instantly lose it.

     

    The Question

    How will Chris Weidman do against Lyoto Machida?

     

    Analysis

    If you were going to build somebody to beat Weidman, he would have bulletproof takedown defense, technical striking and great timing. Well, Machida has all three of those things. We've seen him dance circles around bigger, stronger wrestlers than Weidman and even the biggest Weidman fan would have to do some serious mental gymnastics to believe he has an edge in striking.

    If Weidman can overcome that on-paper deficit, he could just be one of the top champions in the UFC today. If he can't, though, it will be hard not to compare him to former WEC champion Mike Brown.

How Many Buys Will UFC 175 Get?

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    Jayne Russell/Getty Images

    The Fight: N/A
    The Real Fight: UFC's Perception Regarding Fans vs. Reality

    The Stakes

    The UFC has put two of its biggest draws together on one card in hopes of getting a big payday. While Weidman vs. Machida and Rousey vs. Davis would be solid main events on their own, combined they make for one of the most compelling cards of the year. But how many fans will pay for it?

     

    The Question

    How many buys will UFC 175 get?

     

    Analysis

    We all know about the UFC's steadily declining pay-per-view buyrates, right? We do? OK, no explanation needed. Well, the UFC is still trying to find the right recipe to get you to throw around money. When the "let's just not even give a crap about this one" plan didn't go over well for UFC 174, the company decided to stack a card. While the loss of the bout between Sonnen and whoever is a profound one, this is still a solid card.

    The question now is whether fans are still willing to buy cards, regardless of how good they are, without a true blockbuster main event near the top.