UFC 188: Reasons to Watch Velasquez vs. Werdum Fight Card

Kristian Ibarra@@kristian_ibarraFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2015

UFC 188: Reasons to Watch Velasquez vs. Werdum Fight Card

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    We're just a few days removed from the complete and utter—but ultimately welcomed—nonsense that was UFC Fight Night: Boetsch vs. Henderson. Seriously, what on earth happens to fighters in New Orleans?

    Whatever the case, here we are, less than a week away from the UFC's second trip south of the border.

    In the journey to Mexico City, we find ourselves embracing the return of the UFC's heaviest champion and the baddest man on the planettechnically, but more on that later.

    A lot's happened since we last saw him: The UFC has crowned a new heavyweight champion, one new light heavyweight champion, two new welterweight champions, a new lightweight champion, a bantamweight champion and a women's strawweight champion.

    The chambers of greatness no longer echo with Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre. We're still talking about Jon Jones, but not for his fighting abilities.

    It's been a while, a long while. But we welcome his return for lots of reasons.

    Here are three reasons to tune into UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum this Saturday.

Bounce Back from a Once-Promising Young Star

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    Steve Marcus/Getty Images

    Nobody thought much of anything when they first heard Kelvin Gastelum's name on The Ultimate Fighter 17. For obvious reasons, we were all pretty content with imagining the dream-fight scenarios involving Uriah Hall and just about every top middleweight in the world.

    But then the young kid from San Jose, California, came in and ruined all hopes of a meaningful Silva vs. Hall middleweight clash.

    Still, Gastelum made for some pretty exciting matchups on his steady rise to the top. And he found himself victorious in all but his last clash with Tyron Woodley. It was only a split-decision loss, but it was obvious from the early goings that Gastelum was in over his head.

    However, it also felt like the sort of loss that could motivate a young fighter more than any victory ever could.

    Will the TUF 17 champion come back stronger than ever in his second trip to Mexico? Only time will tell.

Former Champions Collide

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    Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

    Gilbert Melendez was always one of the better lightweight fighters in the world. Time and time again, he proved himself the better fighter against lesser opponents. He was better than Shinya Aoki. He bested Jorge Masvidal. Even Josh Thomson wasn't the man66.6 percent of the time, anyway.

    But for one reason or another, the non-UFC "world" champion couldn't quite get it done when facing the world's actual champions.

    Same song and a pretty similar dance for Melendez's Bellator counterpart.

    Fine, Eddie Alvarez has only had one fight under the brightest lights in mixed martial arts. Still, he didn't look any part of a world champion against a guy who's yet to hold a world title of any kind.

    Now the two meet, hopefully to give us some more insight on which of the UFC's rivals harbored the best external 155-pounder when a simple discussion couldn't get it done.

A Date with the True Heavyweight King

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Interim titles are rarely ever worth their weight in gold. They're placeholders while the true champion makes his way back into the cage. They're not the real champions, and we all know it.

    But Fabricio Werdum's title feels different. As "interim" as his title may be, there's a genuine conversation to be had on whether or not Vai Cavalo is the best heavyweight fighter on the planet.

    The conversation exists partially because favorable arguments for Cain Velasquez are founded upon distant, two-year-old memories. This is also partially because Werdum looks to have the right tools to unseat the reigning heavyweight king.

    Luckily for us, this conversation will only have to exist for another few days. A true heavyweight king will be crowned, and the world will be right again.

    Follow Kristian on Twitter.


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