Every time the UFC puts on an event, speculation, questions and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or under perform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the octagon, questions follow.
That being said, here are 4 burning questions going into UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida.
4. Can Tito Ortiz Defeat Top Competition?
Last July, when Tito Ortiz submitted Ryan Bader in the first round at UFC 132 to win his fight in over four years, Ortiz claimed he was completely recovered from all injuries and ready to compete with the best. The fight with Bader lasted only 116 seconds, which is not a lot to work with. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" looked impressive, but with such a short fight, it is hard to gauge where Ortiz really stands.
The answers to those questions were partially revealed 26 days later. Ortiz would make a quick turnaround and accept a fight on short notice against Rashad Evans at UFC 133 after Phil Davis was forced to withdraw due to a knee injury. Ortiz was not expected to win against the number two-ranked Evans, and he didn’t. He did, however, show a lot of heart and determination as he battled with Evans for two rounds before succumbing to a TKO due to a vicious knee to the body.
Ortiz proved he can still hang with the best, and many have questioned how well he would have done with a full training camp to prepare for Evans, but the past is the past, and Ortiz now looks to the future.
On Saturday night, the former light heavyweight champion will return to the octagon to face Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and Pam-Am Games Bronze metal boxer, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Ortiz has battled through failure, pain and embarrassing defeats. A win over Nogueira would be a career highlight, if he can pull it off, there will be no doubt that the self-proclaimed "people’s champion" is truly back.
3. Can Frank Mir Put On A Repeat Performance?
At UFC 92 in December 2008, Frank Mir became the first man to finish Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, knocking the Brazilian out in the second round with an overwhelming attack of precise striking. The win was the biggest of Mir’s career at the time; it launched him into a title fight opposite Brock Lesnar in the main event at UFC 100.
A winner of two straight fights, Mir has silently crept towards title contention in the heavyweight division once again. His last two victories, wins over Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop, were not the most inspiring performances of Mir’s career, but they were enough to earn him a co-main event slot on this card this Saturday.
A little less then three years after they first met, Mir and Nogueira will cross paths for a second time. It will be hard for Mir to top his performance in the first fight, but beating the Brazilian for a second time would prove the first fight was no mistake and put Mir’s name on the short list of heavyweight title contenders.
2. Will Lyoto Machida Be Able To Test Jon Jones?
Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida will get his shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones after number one contender Rashad Evans was unable to take the fight due to a hand injury. Machida has not had the most impressive run as of late, compiling a 1-2 record in his last three fights. However, as the old adage goes, "styles make fights", and the Brazilian certainly possess a unique style.
Machida has an extremely accurate, elusive counter oriented striking attacked that was influenced from his Shotokan karate background growing up. Machida is very difficult to take down, and as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson showed in his last fight against Jones, good takedown defense can thwart some of the champion’s attempts.
The obvious problem for anyone fighting Jones is figuring out the champion’s absurd reach and length. Machida has an extremely well rounded skillset and with the right game plan, is capable of defeating the best fighters in the world. Machida may not beat Jones, but on paper, he certainly has the attributes too.
1. What Will Jon Jones Do Next?
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones has displayed solid skills in every area of mixed martial arts throughout his nine-fight UFC career. Jones has a dynamic offensive attack that includes strong wrestling, unorthodox striking and constantly improving submissions. The New York native has a ridiculous 84.5-inch wingspan, enabling him with a reach advantage no opponent has come even close to solving.
Jones successfully defended his belt for the first time at UFC 135 in September, defeating Quinton "Rampage" Jackson via fourth round submission. The champion had a brilliant game plan of warring "Rampage" down with kicks, and showed the dynamic offensive attack mentioned early by becoming the first man to finish Jackson in the UFC.
As every fight goes on, the 24-year old improves, he has limitless potential, and is not even close to hitting his ceiling as a fighter. Jones presents something new inside the octagon with every fight. What will he do next? Find out by watching UFC 140 on Saturday night.
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