When news broke that Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar 3 had been cancelled due to both fighters dealing with injuries, it was obvious that UFC 130 would receive a major drop in potential pay per view buys. However, the calls for this card to be free on Spike and the comments by fans on how this card isn't worth their money seemed a little ridiculous. It seemed like no one sat back and took a look at what the card still had to offer them. These reactions represent a recurring problem in the MMA community, which is that most fans refuse to look at the rest of the card and focus solely on the main event. Well, allow me to lay out these potentially amazing fights in full detail, including the implications they carry for their respective divisions.
Welterweight: Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story
Thiago Alves (Ranked #4 by USA/SBN, 10-4 UFC, 18-7 overall) is a devastating, technical muay thai striker looking to climb back to the top of the welterweight division and earn a second shot at GSP's welterweight strap. Alves won his last fight against John Howard, a unanimous decision in which Alves used a beautiful array of technical strikes against Howard's wild power punching to shut him down 30-27 across the board. However, with two unanimous decision losses preceding his recent win (losses to GSP and Jon Fitch, in which he was outwrestled for the majority of the fights), Alves has a long road ahead of him on his way to another title shot.
Rick Story (Ranked #23 by USA/SBN, 5-1 UFC, 12-3 overall) is a powerful wrestler and top prospect on a five fight win streak that includes Dustin Hazelett and fellow prospect Johny Hendricks. Despite his wrestling background, Story has a knack for making fights exciting, as seen in his incredible second round finishes in fast pace fights against Brian Foster and Dustin Hazelett. Story has asked for and received a step up in competition in the form of former title challenger Thiago Alves, and you can be guaranteed he'll make great use of this opportunity.
Implications for the division: Rick Story knocked off a fellow prospect in Johny Hendricks in his last fight and a win over a top name like Alves, followed by two or three more wins over top competition, could mean a title shot for Story. A win for Alves means he's on the right path to redemption within his division, but a loss could mean far worse implications. Known to many hardcore fans, Alves has had a history of weight troubles and has tested positive for banned substances in the past. Coupled with two losses in his past three fights, a loss to Story could leave Alves unemployed.