The UFC 175 card could end up being one of the best in 2014. It features a good combination of high-profile bouts, veterans trying to make another push into the title picture and lesser-known fighters hoping for a breakthrough.
Two championship fights highlight the event. Chris Weidman will put the middleweight title on the line in a toss-up match with Lyoto Machida. Then there's women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who's become one of the promotion's top individual draws and will face Alexis Davis.
In total, there are 11 scheduled fights at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Let's check out the complete fight card, including the preliminary bouts, followed by a preview and predictions for both title clashes.
UFC 175 Fight Card
|Full Card for UFC 175: Weidman vs. Machida|
|Main Card (PPV)||Fighter||Fighter|
|Middleweight||Chris Weidman||Lyoto Machida|
|Women's Bantamweight||Ronda Rousey||Alexis Davis|
|Heavyweight||Stefan Struve||Matt Mitrione|
|Middleweight||Uriah Hall||Thiago Santos|
|Bantamweight||Marcus Brimage||Russell Doane|
|Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)||Fighter||Fighter|
|Bantamweight||Urijah Faber||Alex Caceres|
|Welterweight||Kenny Robertson||Ildemar Alcantara|
|Middleweight||Chris Camozzi||Bruno Santos|
|Bantamweight||George Roop||Rob Font|
|Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)||Fighter||Fighter|
|Middleweight||Luke Zachrich||Guilherme Vasconcelos|
|Middleweight||Kevin Casey||Bubba Bush|
Predictions for Title Fights
Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida (UFC Middleweight Championship)
This should be a very interesting fight. Not only are Weidman and Machida evenly matched overall, but they will both enter the fight with vastly different game plans. Whichever fighter is able to better implement his strategy is going to score the victory.
Weidman wants it to become a slower-paced battle with lots of grappling. He's coming off a pair of wins over Anderson Silva. Both of those fights had weird endings, the first due to Silva's antics and then because of his injury, but the undefeated American was doing a good job each time of imposing his style.
On the flip side, Machida will prefer a quicker pace to maximize the potential of his speed and striking ability. It's something that's really served as an advantage for him since moving to the middleweight division last year.
Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie notes the Brazilian is also trying to accomplish a rare feat Saturday:
Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, will have the opportunity to become just the third fighter in history to win a title in more than one weight class. The only others to have accomplished the feat are Randy Couture and B.J. Penn, who, coincidentally, Machida holds career victories over.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the bout get off to a sluggish start. Both fighters know their opponent is going to try to shape the fight, which will lead to an extended feeling-out process. But by late in the second round, the action should really begin to pick up.
Ultimately, the slight edge goes to Weidman until somebody shows they can beat him. Beating Silva twice in a row is quite an accomplishment, regardless of the circumstances. He should be able to earn the decision nod in a fight that goes the distance.
Prediction: Weidman by unanimous decision
Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis (Women's Bantamweight Championship)
It would be a shock if this fight is as competitive as the one between Weidman and Machida. Rousey has looked virtually unstoppable en route to a 9-0 MMA record with all but one of those wins coming in the first round. Dominant might not be a strong enough word.
Davis has been on a roll lately, winning five straight fights, but her overall record is still just 16-5. It would take the best performance of her career to get in position to pull off the monumental upset and even that might not be enough.
The lack of expected competitiveness does raise an interesting question about whether continued easy wins by Rousey will cause the interest level in her matches to drop. Michael Huang of ESPNW passed along comments from her about those concerns:
Not according to the numbers. As long as I keep selling [tickets and pay-per-views], I really don't care. I try my best to be entertaining when I fight. Even though a lot of my fights are dominant performances, they're still the type of fights where no one ever sits down.
Although it's not a perfect comparison, one name that comes to mind is Tiger Woods. For a long time he was a huge force in an individual sport, and mainstream fans seemed to enjoy watching him win by five strokes more than watching a closer tournament without him in contention.
Rousey is a big draw because of her greatness, and that's likely to continue for as long as she remains undefeated. It's hard to imagine Davis bringing an end to the run. She simply doesn't have enough weapons to counter what the champion brings to the table.
Another first-round armbar leading to a tapout is the most likely result.
Prediction: Rousey by first-round submission