The best card of the year has arrived.
While Chris Weidman, the two-time conqueror of one Anderson Silva, is worthy of the main attraction along with Lyoto Machida, the real meat of UFC 175 on Saturday in Las Vegas that makes it 2014's best slate is the jaw-dropping set of matches on the undercard.
Machida's quest to become just the third fighter in history to win a title in more than one weight class is the perfect finale to a stunning card that has not been given nearly enough attention.
The full card is as follows, with a closer look at two of the undercard's better offerings after the jump.
What: UFC 175
When: Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 7 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1 prelims begin at 8 p.m. ET, main card at 10 p.m. ET)
Online: UFC TV
|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|
Stefan Struve vs Matt Mitrione
Part of what makes this card particularly great is not only UFC's ability to match up similar competitors but mix in plenty of human interest stories, too.
Take Stefan Struve, for example.
|Stefan Struve vs. Matt Mitrione Tale of the Tape|
|Stefan Struve||Matt Mitrione|
|84 in||Height||75 in|
Struve, a giant among men at 7'0" and 260 pounds, was last seen eating the canvas after a hook from Mark Hunt. One trip to the hospital later, and Struve was given jaw-dropping news—he suffered from athletic heart syndrome and may never enter the Octagon again.
He shared the experience with Damon Martin of Fox Sports:
I was born with this but they just found it at a real late age. Normally they find this when you're really young. But even now when a doctor listens to my heart, because normally hear a slight murmur, but even now when a doctor listens you really, really need to pay attention (to hear it). The thing is back when they found it, my heart was enlarged. The chamber which is connected to the aorta, in between the aortic valve, and that's the entire problem the aortic valve is different than a normal one.
But Struve is now cleared to resume his passion, and it's bad news for his opponent, Matt Mitrione. Not only is Struve a better fighter on paper, he has a year's worth of pent-up aggression after a life-altering diagnosis. The Skyscraper sounds more than ready:
Add in some bad blood over Mitrione allegedly asking to fight Struve, who at that point in time had not been medically cleared, and things may get ugly Saturday night.
Mitrione is known for his knockout power, which actually makes the fight intriguing with Struve's main issue being an ability to manage distance and take shots to the chin. Then again, we don't know how many of his brutal losses via knockout were because of his condition, and whether or not things have changed.
Regardless, it will be thrilling just to see Struve back at it, and one of these two men ascending the heavyweight ladder.
Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis (Women's Bantamweight Championship)
It is so easy to forget that Alexis Davis ranks No. 2 overall in the face of the unflappable, 9-0 Ronda Rousey.
Rousey's ninth victory was a 66-second, should-have-been-eligible-for-criminal-charges beatdown of Sara McMann at UFC 170, and the general consensus seems to be that Davis is in for the same fate in Las Vegas on Saturday.
|Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis Tale of the Tape|
|Ronda Rousey||Alexis Davis|
|67 in||Height||66 in|
|135 lbs||Weight||135 lbs|
But not so fast. Davis is ranked highly for a reason, and her strikes are some of the best in the business. She enters riding five straight victories, and the jiu-jitsu specialist can certainly win via submission if things get taken to the mat.
Davis has more in the way of experience, but as MMA Infographics helps to illustrate, Rousey has been more dominant during the course of her brief career:
Rousey is explosive, so much so that she is an Olympic athlete in comparison to the slower Davis. While her opponent has an experience edge and may have what it takes to win the battle standing up, Rousey's athleticism and grapples should be enough to see her make it 10-0.
If not, the sport simply gets that much more interesting. Either way, fans win.