UFC Fight Night 51 Results: Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 52
UFC Fight Night 51 has wrapped up, and the results are as follows:
UFC Fight Night 51 Main Card
- Andrei Arlovski def. Antonio Silva by (T)KO in the first round.
- Gleison Tibau def. Piotr Hallman by split decision.
- Leonardo Santos def. Efrain Escudeo by unanimous decision.
- Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Wendell Oliveira by (T)KO in the first round.
- Iuri Alcantara def. Russell Doane by unanimous decision.
- Jessica Andrade def. Larissa Pacheco by submission in the first round.
UFC Fight Night 51 Prelims
- Godofredo Pepey def. Dashon Johnson by submission in the first round.
- George Sullivan def. Igor Araujo by (T)KO in the second round.
- Francisco Trinaldo def. Leandro Silva by unanimous decision.
- Sean Spencer def. Paulo Thiago by unanimous decision.
- Rani Yahya def. Johnny Bedford by submission in the second round.
The next UFC event will be UFC Fight Night 52 on September 20. The card is headlined by another heavyweight tussle between Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson. Miesha Tate, Myles Jury and Alex Caceres will be among the other Top 15-ranked competitors competing next weekend.
As we reset and prepare for another UFC offering, here are the burning questions heading into UFC Fight Night 52, which will be held in Tokyo, Japan.
Who'll Win the Battle of the Bulge?
The Fight: Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson
Although Hunt and Nelson might not be the hottest heavyweights right now, both are ranked in the top 10 and find themselves in a matchup that is very highly anticipated.
Due to their physiques, it is a matchup that Hunt named a Battle of the Bulge a few months ago. The stout heavyweights aren't among the most aesthetically imposing in their division, but Hunt and Nelson both pack a ton of knockout power and outstanding chins, which has earned them strong followings.
Because this a fight that will have the MMA world's attention, Hunt and Nelson have a great opportunity to prove they are title threats on Saturday. The heavyweight division is running low on contenders right now, so the winner of this bout could be one more victory away from a shot at the championship.
Everyone will be hoping these two stand and bang this weekend. That would more than likely result in a wild brawl, with heavy hands meeting granite chins.
However, Nelson has an advantage on the ground that is hard to ignore in this matchup.
With six submission losses in 18 career fights, Hunt's ground game is lacking. If Nelson takes Hunt down and puts his underutilized jiu-jitsu to work, he could record his first submission win since July 2006.
Will Takanori Gomi Ever Be a UFC Lightweight Contender?
The Fight: Myles Jury vs. Takanori Gomi
At 35 years old, Takanori Gomi is running low on chances to prove he's among the best in the 155-pound division. As a former Pride FC champion, that once was clear, but Gomi now sits outside the Top 15 lightweight rankings and is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
With a 4-4 record inside the Octagon, Gomi hasn't been able to break through against lightweight contenders. On Saturday, he'll have a good chance to do so against a somewhat inexperienced contender, Myles Jury.
This is about as winnable a matchup as Gomi is going to see against a Top 15 opponent in today's stacked 155-pound class. If he comes up short this weekend, Gomi likely won't ever become a legitimate contender in the UFC lightweight division.
Although Jury only has five UFC appearances, he's looked good against top-notch competition. The TUF veteran owns wins over No. 10 lightweight Michael Johnson and former title challenger Diego Sanchez, who defeated Gomi controversially in March 2013.
While many believed Gomi deserved to win over Sanchez, it's hard to argue that The Fireball Kid looked better against that common opponent than Jury did. Although MMA math doesn't always work, it can give a good indication of the better fighter in many instances.
Besides their performances against Sanchez, Jury also has the striking to cause Gomi problems. With his lengthy reach, Jury should be able to stay away from Gomi's power punches, which are his biggest weapon in this and most of his matchups.
Is Yoshihiro Akiyama's UFC Career Finished?
The Fight: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Amir Sadollah
After 31 months away from competition, Yoshihiro Akiyama will return to the cage on Saturday.
The Japanese welterweight lost four in a row prior to his lengthy hiatus. With that in mind, there is a good chance Akiyama will be fighting for his UFC job opposite Amir Sadollah.
He hasn't been away quite as long as Akiyana, but Sadollah has also missed the past 24 months due to injury problems.
Rust could play a big role in this matchup. The fighter who is able to shake it off more quickly will probably come out on top this weekend.
Whether Akiyama wins or not, he's probably going to retire relatively soon. At 39 years old, Sexyama may be forced to make that decision on Saturday should he come up short in a fifth consecutive outing.
Is Rin Nakai a Threat to Ronda Rousey?
The Fight: Miesha Tate vs. Rin Nakai
Undefeated in 17 MMA bouts, Rin Nakai was one of the better female bantamweights competing outside the Octagon. Now, she has a spot with the world's top MMA promotion and will be looking to make a run at champion Ronda Rousey.
Nakai is hardly being eased into UFC competition. The Japanese standout will face former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate in her debut on Saturday.
The matchup should quickly reveal whether Nakai does or doesn't have the potential to capture UFC gold. Rousey has faced Tate multiple times, so it will be easy to compare Nakai with the titleholder following her clash with Tate this weekend.
With a strong ground game, Nakai matches up well against Tate, whose wrestling is her best asset.
That said, Nakai does not have nearly as much experience in big fights as Tate does. While Tate has been fighting the best in the world for years now, Nakai has been flying under the radar with Pancrase, a long-running promotion that doesn't receive much attention nowadays.
Nakai has the ability to become one of the top fighters in the women's bantamweight class. However, facing Tate right out of the gates may be too much too soon.
Will Kiichi Kunimoto or Richard Walsh Earn a Step Up in Competition?
The Fight: Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Richard Walsh
Welterweight prospects Kiichi Kunimoto and Richard Walsh both scored important wins in their most recent outings.
After winning via disqualification in his UFC debut against Luiz Dutra, Kunimoto recorded a much more noteworthy victory in June when he submitted Daniel Sarafian. Walsh, meanwhile, made his debut in April, beating Chris Indich on the scorecards.
It's still a long way to the top of the 170-pound class for these two, but the winner of their matchup on Saturday should take a big step closer to fighting high-level welterweights.
At 33 years old, Kunimoto has been at this much longer than Walsh and finally appears to be hitting his stride. Strasser has won six fights in a row, giving him the longer winning streak in his MMA career.
Walsh, meanwhile, was submitted by the TUF: Nations welterweight runner-up during the competition's semifinals. The Australian's win over Indich extended his UFC career, but it didn't really prove he belongs at this level.
Expect both men to be looking to take this fight to the ground, where Kunimoto is more capable of finishing, having scored nine submission victories.
Was Jon Delos Reyes Really the Best Available Option to Fight Kyoji Horiguchi?
The Fight: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Jon Delos Reyes
UFC matchmakers aren't often criticized because they usually get it right, but replacing Chris Cariaso with Jon Delos Reyes in a matchup against Kyoji Horiguchi deserves some questioning.
With a 2-0 start to his UFC career, Horiguchi has already earned a spot among the Top 15 flyweights. He should have been facing a ranked 125-pounder like Cariaso, not an opponent with an 0-1 UFC record.
Had Cariaso been named the flyweight title challenger and been pulled from his contest with Horiguchi at the last second, it would have been understandable to match Horiguchi up with anybody who would step up. However, the UFC had ample time to find Horiguchi a suitable adversary, and there were several flyweights coming off victories without fights booked.
Reyes has been submitted by Dustin Kimura and Russell Doane in his past six fights, so it seems apparent he has trouble with high-level grapplers.
Horiguchi is no slouch on the ground, and he might be even better when standing. At 23 years old, Horiguchi has real championship potential.
On paper, this looks like a tune-up for Horiguchi. It's a big opportunity for Reyes to prove he's better than he's shown, but Horiguchi should cruise to a win and earn a tougher matchup for his next outing.