UFC on Fox 18 Results: 5 Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 82

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2016

UFC on Fox 18 Results: 5 Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 82

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    Matt Strasen/Associated Press

    UFC on Fox 18 is in the books. The results are as follows:

    UFC on Fox 18 Main Card 

    • Anthony Johnson def. Ryan Bader, knockout (Round 1, 1:26)
    • Ben Rothwell def. Josh Barnett, submission (Round 2, 3:48)
    • Jimmie Rivera def. Iuri Alcantara, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Bryan Barberena def. Sage Northcutt, submission (Round 2, 3:06)

    Prelims on Fox Sports 1

    • Tarec Saffiedine def. Jake Ellenberger, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Rafael Natal def. Kevin Casey, TKO (Round 3, 3:37)
    • Wilson Reis def. Dustin Ortiz, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Alexander Yakovlev def. George Sullivan, knockout (Round 1, 3:59)
    • Alex Caceres def. Masio Fullen, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Prelims on UFC Fight Pass 

    • Randy Brown def. Matt Dwyer, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Damon Jackson vs. Levan Makashvili, majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
    • Tony Martin def. Felipe Olivieri, submission (Round 3, 3:02)

    Next up? UFC Fight Night 82 on Saturday.

    Previously known as UFC 196, the pay-per-view card that was once headlined by the heavyweight title fight between Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez has moved to Fox Sports 1 and now has welterweight contenders Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson at the helm. That's a strong main event for a TV card and when names like Roy Nelson, KJ Noons and Joseph Benavidez are added to that, it's easy to get excited about this free card.

    So what questions demand answers on this card? Find out here!

Which Flyweight Prospect Will Endure?

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    Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins
    The Real Fight: 22-Year-Old vs. 23-Year-Old

    The Stakes

    In typical UFC fashion, Sean Shelby has booked two of the flyweight division's highest-upside prospects against each other in a meaningless fight. Ray Borg takes on Justin Scoggins, with the winner gaining next to nothing and the loser suffering a colossal setback.

    The Question

    Which flyweight prospect will endure?

    Analysis

    "Oh, MMA matchmaking is great," says generic MMA fan No. 1. "Yes, fights like Scoggins vs. Borg makes every fight matter," says generic MMA fan No. 2. 

    Of course, that's completely untrue. Ryan LaFlare made his way into the UFC's official rankings by scoring unremarkable wins over stiff competition, and only the most diehard of fans could pick his face out of a lineup. Conor McGregor, though? He never stumbled once in his UFC career, and that has contributed to his rise in a big way.

    Borg and Scoggins haven't enjoyed that luxury and now face a dire crossroads. One will be a contender at some point in the future. The other will.

How Will Damian Grabowski Look in His UFC Debut?

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    The Fight: Derrick Lewis vs. Damian Grabowski
    The Real Fight: Damian Grabowski vs. A UFC Opponent, Finally

    The Stakes

    After years of competing on the European circuit, former M-1 heavyweight champ Damian Grabowski has finally made his way to the UFC. Set to face the hard-hitting Derrick Lewis in his debut, he has the opportunity to show that his strong 20-2 record is as legitimate as it seems.

    The Question

    How will Damian Grabowski look in his UFC debut?

    Analysis

    The European regional circuit was long an untapped well of talent, but while veterans like Dan Weichel and Alexey Oleinik have established themselves as solid talents, few have punched through into that elite level. While there have been a few exceptions like Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Khabib Nurmagomedov, most hot imports like Jan Blachowicz and Jimi Manuwa haven't shaken out as top contender material.

    Because of Grabowski's advanced age (35) and good-but-not-amazing resume, this fight is important for him. A win over Lewis would be his first step toward a Cinderella run. A loss, however, will likely relegate him to the middle tier of a fairly competitive heavyweight division. There are high stakes here for the Polish finisher.

Is This Roy Nelson's Last Stand?

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    Ken Ishii/Getty Images

    The Fight: Jared Rosholt vs. Roy Nelson
    The Real Fight: Roy Nelson vs. Losing

    The Stakes

    Roy Nelson remains an identifiable name and a popular fighter, but there is no ignoring the fact that he is 1-5 over his last six fights. Now facing Jared Rosholt, it feels as though the UFC is looking to job him out one last time and then unceremoniously release him.

    The Question

    Is this Roy Nelson's last stand?

    Analysis

    When I previewed UFC 196 a few weeks back, I broke down Nelson's standing with the UFC:

    While none of Nelson's losses have come from bad fighters (literally every single loss in his UFC career has been handed down from a current Top 10 name), his usefulness to the UFC has almost come to an end. The last thing he can do for the company is put one of its up-and-coming heavyweights over...and the UFC is setting him up to do just that with this fight against Jared Rosholt.

    That hasn't changed, and the only way Nelson can avoid that fate is by scoring a win. Unfortunately, the odds are against him against an underrated Rosholt.

How Will Stephen Thompson Look Against a Wrestler?

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    Mitch Viquez/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    The Fight: Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
    The Real Fight: Stephen Thompson vs. the Unknown

    The Stakes

    Stephen Thompson has proved that he is an amazing talent, but to this point, he has not yet had to face a serious wrestler. That changes at Fight Night 82 when he faces off against, arguably, the best grappler at 170 pounds, Johny Hendricks.

    The Question

    How will Stephen Thompson look against a wrestler?

    Analysis

    You don't hear about "the wrestler question" all that much these days, but it's still a big deal, especially for a guy like Thompson. Wonderboy is an absolutely amazing striker, and few fighters can contend with him in a stand-up battle. Those who have tried have failed.

    The big question lies in how good his ground game is. Through seven UFC fights, he has managed to keep things upright. Some have been able to close the distance and force him to work in the clinch, but no one has held him down for a prolonged period of time.

    That will most likely change with Hendricks. While he may or may not be able to repeatedly take Thompson down, he most likely will force him out of his comfort zone. How Thompson handles those situations will be critical in terms of gauging his potential as a contender.

How Will Johny Hendricks' Weight Cut Go?

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    Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    The Fight: Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
    The Real Fight: Johny Hendricks vs. Baconators

    The Stakes

    Johny Hendricks cemented himself as one of the greatest welterweights in the sport when he nearly beat Georges St-Pierre back in 2013, but he's been struggling to stay in shape since. Troublesome weight cuts have led to consistently inconsistent performances and forced him to withdraw from his UFC 192 fight against Tyron Woodley. He needs to show he's still a contender at 170 pounds by putting an absolute beating on Stephen Thompson. 

    The Question

    How will Johny Hendricks' weight cut go?

    Analysis

    While Dana White may have backed down from the irresponsible proclamations that Hendricks would move to the middleweight division, the issues that have plagued Hendricks over his last three fights most likely haven't disappeared. While Hendricks put in five strong rounds back in the day against GSP, both his fights with Robbie Lawler saw him sputter late. He was able to consistently impose his will on Matt Brown, but his endurance was not tested as he was never forced into prolonged grappling exchanges.

    That makes this fight a crucial one for Hendricks. If he shows that his weight-cutting issues are a thing of the past, his ceiling instantly becomes immeasurable. If he has another so-so outing, there are some serious questions about his contender status.