Some have dinged the UFC recently for what is perceived to be a watering down of the product. At UFC 175 on Saturday, the company gave fans a card that more than delivered.
The co-main events featured two title defenses, with Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey both retaining their championships.
That's where the similarities ended, though, as Rousey knocked out Alexis Davis in 16 seconds, while Weidman relied on the judges to give him a unanimous victory.
Their victories presented some immediate questions for the future.
Does Chris Weidman Have Anything Left to Prove?
As wrong as they may have been, plenty of critics wondered whether Weidman's wins over Anderson Silva were flukes. In the first bout, Silva didn't really care. In the rematch, his leg no longer decided to remain in one piece.
The champ didn't need to prove anything to the majority of UFC fans, but a small segment of viewers was unconvinced. UFC 175 was the time for Weidman to establish himself as the man, and that's exactly what he did.
Both Kenny Florian and Fox Sports 1's Jon Anik heaped praise upon the 30-year-old's shoulders:
Chris Weidman having himself a night. Great to watch this level of skill. He's got all the tools. Now there is no denying the power, cardio.— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) July 6, 2014
Weidman was excellent. He erased just about any doubt that remained as to his talent level.
You learn the most about a fighter when he or she is facing a moment of adversity. Machida was a more than game challenger, but Weidman answered the call and came out a better fighter because of it.
Where Does Weidman Go From Here?
The answer to that question would appear to be Vitor Belfort. Dana White said after UFC 175 that he's planning on Weidman's next title defense to be against the 37-year-old Brazilian, per Bleacher Report MMA:
Dana White said he is interested in Chris Weidman face Vitor Belfort next. Says there is stuff to be worked out first.— Bleacher Report MMA (@BR_MMA) July 6, 2014
Looking at the top challengers, Belfort makes the most sense. Silva is still ranked No. 2, but there's no chance of Weidman vs. Silva 3 happening anytime soon. A rematch with Machida could happen down the line but not right now. Luke Rockhold lost to Belfort back in May 2013.
Belfort was supposed to fight Chael Sonnen on Saturday night, but everybody knows what happened there.
Despite that setback, Belfort remains firm in his resolve about getting a shot against Weidman.
"I've got my opponent already," he said after UFC Fight Night on June 28, via FoxSports.com's Marc Raimondi. "Everybody get in line. I have my belt fight."
This all seems to settle it, then. Get ready for Weidman vs. Belfort.
When Can UFC Make Rousey vs. Zingano Happen?
Rousey needs something to break the mundane nature of her fights; otherwise, she and the UFC risk watching her pay-per-view appeal dwindle. Fans will only keep paying to watch for so long until they get tired of her challengers losing within a minute of the first round.
With Cat Zingano, UFC might have somebody who can at least take Rousey past the first—as Miesha Tate did at UFC 168—and possibly push the champ to the limit.
This fight would have happened already if not for Zingano's knee injury. She went on record stating that she has a clean bill of health now.
"I’m not worried about it," Zingano said, per Dann Stupp of MMAJunkie. "I got cleared a couple months ago to start training hard, and I’ve been doing just that since. So, I feel good. I’m strong. I’m really hitting it hard, and I’m having a good time doing it."
The only snag now is Rousey's possibly broken hand, per SportsCenter:
"Ronda may have broken her hand in that fight." - #DanaCenter— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 6, 2014
That wouldn't be a massive delay. It all but eliminates UFC 176 as an option for their fight, though.