There are plenty of questions going into this event, but I want to hit on five big ones below:
What does the JDS/Velasquez rematch mean for the heavyweight division and the UFC as a whole?
This is a pretty big fight for a couple of reasons. The first fight ended so fast that there are still a lot of questions about how each fighter matches up. Can Velasquez take JDS down and keep him down? Did JDS land a lucky kill shot in the first fight? Does JDS have the cardio to go all five rounds if needed? Can Velasquez go 25 minutes without getting clipped with a huge punch again? If Velasquez loses this fight he’s pretty much done as a contender until JDS loses the belt. If JDS wins then the UFC can begin to market him as THE heavyweight champion since the belt has changed hands so many times in recent years. He could also start his march toward being a legitimate PPV draw with another impressive win, which is something Zuffa desperately needs with an aging roster. The only other legitimate threat to JDS besides Velasquez is Alistair Overeem. If Velasquez wins, then it opens up a trilogy option and many more matchups down the road.
Joe Lauzon is a dangerous opponent for most of the top lightweights out there. He’s improving his striking and is very unpredictable while always going for the finish (only allowed ONE fight to reach the judges). However, he always seems to falter in his biggest fights whether he gets thrown to the wolves too early (Kenny Florian), or is simply outmatched (Anthony Pettis headkick KO). He’s beaten guys that were ranked in the top 10 before (Melvin Guillard was at the time). Can he do it again when he faces Jim Miller?
Let’s be serious. Tim Boetsch was getting destroyed by Yushin Okami until he decided to go for broke and landed a haymaker in the final round which was the beginning of the end for Okami. Boetsch’s win over Hector Lombard was somewhat controversial, and I didn’t see anything in that fight that proved that he deserved to be a highly ranked middlweight. He has a tough matchup against up and comer Constantinos Philippou. He’s somebody that matches up with Boetsch stylistically and could give him some problems.
Will Alan Belcher finally defeat a top ten middleweight and get the recognition he craves?
Alan Belcher is a very good fighter who has put together four wins in a row, but none of those opponents have been highly ranked. Also, Belcher’s injuries have been a hindrance to his career as well. He has fought exactly once in 2010 and 2011. This year will be the first time Belcher has fought twice or more since 2009. He’ll be taking on Yushin Okami who is still considered a ranked middleweight, and who also beat Belcher in his UFC debut in 2006. However, both fighters have changed a lot since then with Belcher being on the rise and Okami seemingly on his way down. It should be a good change for Belcher to make a statement if he’s on his game.
I know Brunson, we went to the same college(I was working there while he was a student), and I’ve followed his career from the beginning since we are from the same state(North Carolina). He came on the scene and quickly rose through the ranks with a record of (9-0), but back-to-back loses have put air brakes on what was a quickly rising middleweight. He is taking this fight on short notice, but it’s a fight he can’t afford to lose. Leben hasn’t fought in over a year and stylistically Brunson matches up with him decently, but this isn’t a fight he can afford to lose.
It’s hard to believe that Eddie Wineland was the first ever WEC bantamweight champion, and that he would be in this position after suffering back-to-back losses in his first two UFC fights. However, after a dominating KO win over former title challenger Scott Jorgensen, Wineland is primed to make a run if he can get past Brad Pickett. Pickett’s only UFC loss came against Barao in his UFC debut which received “Fight of the Night” honors. Wineland should matchup with Pickett fairly well and this one could be a sleeper for “Fight of the Night”.
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