A few week back before UFC 109 I debuted a series called 'What to Watch Out For' highlighting some interesting side stories going into the event other then just the fights. Unfortunately I couldn't get round to one for UFC 110 so I now return by taking a look at the UFC Fight Night debut on Versus on March 21st.
So take a read and keep these thoughts in your mind when you sit down to watch what should be an excellent night of free MMA.
Is the Truth, that Brandon Vera is just not very good?
Brandon Vera burst onto the UFC scene going 4-0 and looking like a future star at Heavyweight. With his destruction of Frank Mir, many where placing him as the future of the division. A win over a former Champion and calling out Chuck Liddel, the then biggest star in the company, certainly got people to notice Vera.
However since then he has gone 3-4 and looked anything like the next big thing. The guy clearly has the talent to beat mid-level fighters, but every time he has faced a step up in competition he has lost.
Yes he has lost a few close split-decisions to Couture and Jardine, but maybe the truth is that Vera is nothing more then a mid level fighter who can't make the jump up. A loss to Jones would put him on a two fight losing streak and place him at 3-3 since dropping to the LHW division. Could Vera's future be at risk in the UFC?
Can Jon Jones handle the pressure and increased hype?
Jon Jones is undoubtedly a future star, but in this writers opinion he is a long way from a title shot. His biggest win to date is over Stephan Bonnar, which isn't that impressive these days. He did destroy Matt Hamill but that fight is in the books as a loss due to a DQ, regardless of what we all saw in the fight.
As the earlier point mentions, maybe Brandon Vera is not the fighter everyone thought he was and rightly or wrongly many will view Jones as the favorite entering this fight. Can the young fighter handle that pressure or being expected to win?
Plus he is headlining his first card, these are factors that will come in to play come fight time. Even with a win Jones has a long way to go, but the increased hype and pressure will be factors that he has to get used to as his star rises.
Will there be a debate over a third No.1 contender in the Heavyweight Division?
Junior Dos Santos has been on a tear since he debuted in the UFC. He is 11-1 in his MMA career and has gone 4-0 in the UFC. His list of UFC opponents is arguably more impressive then both Shane Carwin and Cain Valasquez.
Should he beat Gonzaga as many expect then he would have five impressive victories over ranked opponents. That would give him a very strong case to be considered a No.1 contender a long with Valasquez and the winner of the Interim title match between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin.
The Forgotten UFC Heavyweight could make some noise!
A while back I wrote a piece about Gabriel Gonzaga. As I explained in the article he is a fighter who has dropped off the radar in terms of the Heavyweight Title picture. However a win over Junior Dos Santos would be a big statement and remind everyone that he is still a big threat in the division.
His loss to Shane Carwin is what most people view as the point of his derailment from contention. In reality he smashed Carwin's face in and was then caught by a big punch that KO's him. The guy is still a threat and a win over JDS would be huge for the division and for 'Napao'.
Enter the 'Sandman'
James Irvin is not a top 5 LHW, however he is a very entertaining striker who loves to bring it to the octagon and a personal favorite of this writer. March 21st will see the long awaited return and debut at Middleweight for the 'Sandman' after over a year being spent on the sidelines due to injury.
His last appearance in the UFC was an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of Anderson Silva. After that performance and his absence from the cage you can bet your life that California based fighter will be wanting to remind the fans of who he is, so expect fireworks!
So there you have it folks some interesting titbits to keep in mind for the the UFC debut on Versus. This is shaping up to be a great night, with the added interest of seeing Brendan Schaub's reaction to losing his first fight, a stand up battle between Kongo and Buentello and the always lively Clay Guida on the card.
Expect to see an extended version of "What To Watch Out For" for UFC 111. Love to hear your feedback and hopefully this will get your thoughts going during the event.