One look at the card for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen on Sportsnet 360 and an avalanche of questions come to mind.
While analyzing each and every fight is automatic, it’s what the final results for some of these epic bouts could mean for the fighters that has many fans on the edge of their seats already.
Just imagine the tension and intrigue when these fights are taking place live.
What would a victory for Chael Sonnen or Mauricio Rua truly mean?
For Sonnen, it would be his first win at light heavyweight. He’s already stated he wants to fight Wanderlei Silva or Vitor Belfort next, both of whom compete at middleweight. Will Chael stay, will he go or will he ask one of the aforementioned to move up to 205 pounds?
What if ‘Shogun’ wins? What will it do for his rankings at 205 pounds, considering a victory over Sonnen shouldn’t really do much for it? Chael isn’t even in the top 10.
How much pressure is on Shogun to win, considering he’s in somewhat of a no-win situation against Brazil’s “most wanted” and “most hated” mixed martial artist? Will he make his country proud or find himself in a position to walk away from MMA for good?
Is heavyweight Alistair Overeem in the same position as ‘Shogun,’ where a loss to prospect Travis Browne may have ‘The Demolition Man’ rethinking his MMA career?
No one is saying he should walk away from the sport, but Overeem is considered a top contender in the division. Problem is, should he lose, it would be two in a row and he would tumble down the rankings.
The good thing for Overeem is the depth at heavyweight is thin, so while all the pressure is on him this fight, he could still salvage his career. However, I don’t see him getting a title shot for quite some time.
Now if Browne wins, will he be thrust into “the mix”? that virtual zone that Dana White refers to as guys who are “right there for a title shot”. He would still have some work to do, but defeating Overeem on Saturday night would be huge for the Hawaiian.
A loss for Browne would not be as bad as one for Overeem, but a victory would be a major headline on Sunday morning.
This is exactly what Urijah Faber has. “The California Kid” is taking on an opponent even he says nobody has heard of.
While Yuri Alcantara is the real deal, can you imagine if Bruce Buffer announces the Brazilian’s name as the winner rather than the American’s? Faber is a somewhat heavy favourite in this fight, and for good reason. But anything can happen in MMA.
Can Alcantara, the heavy underdog shock the world on Saturday night? I’ll be surprised if he does, but I won’t be shocked.
Welterweight title shot?
That’s what is being whispered in Boston should Matt Brown defeat Mike Pyle.
This is a stellar fight, but could “The Immortal” find himself that close to Georges St-Pierre with a win at The TD Garden? He’s on a spectacular five-fight winning streak and while I may not agree with what’s being bandied about, if Brown takes out Pyle in decisive fashion I’d really like to hear what Team GSP has to say.
There are many guys above Brown in the rankings, but six straight victories at 170 pounds would be a fantastic feat for the Ohio native.
Doomsday for Primetime?
That’s what could be in store for Uriah Hall, the standout from last season’s Ultimate Fighter.
Some have forgotten he lost in the finale. That defeat was to a wrestler, something his opponent on Saturday night isn’t necessarily known for but John Howard does have Muay Thai and has submitted opponents in the past.
Hall, like the other man who has the same first name, is favoured to win. ‘Primetime’ is the biggest favourite of all the bouts on the card.
Can he live up to the hype (again) or is this the beginning of the end for what many view as one of the most dangerous strikers in the game?
The rest of the card boasts a multitude of ‘Fight of the Night’ candidates, including ‘Mr. Bonus’ himself, Joe Lauzon.
‘J-Lau’ will be taking on Michael Johnson, a lightweight whose losses show a disturbing trend. Six of Johnson’s eight defeats have come by way of submission. Of Lauzon’s 22 victories, 18 have come by way of tap out.
I’m sure you smell what I’m cooking here.
Another question that comes to mind: how will bantamweight Michael MacDonald rebound from the first loss of his career, an interim title fight defeat to current champ Renan Barao?
He’s taking on Brad Pickett, an explosive striker who has won three of his last four fights. It’s the future versus remaining relevant – that’s the theme I have in this one.
While the rest of the bouts all have their own storylines, there’s no other scrap that I’m looking most forward to than the featherweight tilt between Conor McGregor and Max Holloway.
The former, ‘The Pride of Ireland,’ proved his worth with a dramatic 67-second TKO victory over Marcus Brimage in his octagon debut. The latter is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster; he’s only 21-years-old and already has more professional prize fights in the UFC than outside of it.
Halloway is a 145-pound machine who doesn’t have a reverse gear. His goal is to stop the hype train that is Conor McGregor, a fighter rumoured to be on the fast track to a title shot with nine consecutive victories.
McGregor is a fight promoter’s dream. He gets what the vast majority of fighters do not: he’s a self promoter.
In MMA years he’s wise beyond his age and further ahead than the vast majority on the UFC roster. McGregor is a universe away from some champions and even further away than some of those in the twilight of their careers.
The only thing stopping this guy from being the next superstar in the sport is his ability to keep his train on the tracks.
If he can keep his career, inside and outside of the cage, on the straight and narrow, we could be looking at the next huge pay-per-view draw for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
A lot of work still needs to be done, but I’ve seen this aura in two other fighters before. One guy named Jon Jones, and another named Georges St-Pierre. It’s a unique amalgamation of star power ready to explode. McGregor has it but it’s up to him to bring it out.
It all starts with his preliminary fight Saturday night on Sportsnet 360.