In less than 3 hours, the Facebook portion of the prelims will kick off with a fight between Yves Jabouin and Ian Loveland, which coincidentally is the only fight on the card that doesn't feature a Brazilian combatant. As with every event, there are questions regarding the participants and outside circumstances that may have an effect on how the fights unfold. Tonight is no different. Here are the five burning questions. Oh the burning!!!
1. Will Hurricane Irene have a negative impact on PPV buys?
UFC 134 was supposed to kick off what could be described as the strongest run in the UFC's ppv history. Headlined by hot commodity Anderson Silva, this card was stacked from top to bottom to ensure that Zuffa made a big splash into the Brazilian market. Many were predicting buy rates around the 500-550k mark which would be one of the biggest cards this year. This weekend Hurricane Irene is expected to make landfall on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Massive power outages should occur from North Carolina to New York. How detrimental will this hurricane be to the UFC's ppv sales?
Not this Irene...
2. Can an event in Brazil go off without a hitch?
There's been reports of massive amounts of counterfeiting and identity theft regarding ticketing for this event. Last night I was told by a source that around a third of the seats in HSBC Arena aren't numbered. People are expecting this to be a massive financial success for the UFC and it probably will. However, if a combination of Maurico Rua, Antonion Rodrigo Nogueira, and Anderson Silva are all defeated, can Zuffa ensure there won't be a riot? They priced the event to keep the riff raff out, were they successful?
3. Will tonight be the last time we see Big Nog in the UFC's cage?
I want to make something perfectly clear: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is a legend in this sport. He has nothing else he needs to prove to anyone. However, should he really be fighting tonight? He's taken what is essentially two years off to heal up from nagging injuries including getting surgery to his hips and knees. He's suffered two knockouts in his last three fights and has a career of taking cumulative damage. If he gets knocked out tonight, should this mark the end of his MMA career? Should he risk long term health issues to make another run at capturing the UFC's heavyweight belt? And more importantly, will Dana White give him the Chuck Liddell treatment and retire Nogueira himself?
4. Is the co-main event a bout between two fighters who aren't long for the sport?
Speaking of Brazilian fighters who have been injury prone, what about Shogun? His knees are worse than Willis Reed's and at 29 years old, his longevity in the sport is already limited. Should he get injured tonight, could this mark the end of a career that never fully blossom? And on the other side of the cage, is Forrest Griffin still the same fighter that impressed fans with his blood and guts wins? He's expecting his first child and by all account seems to have lose the competitive edge that kept him in the gym and on the mats. Could a loss mean that Forrest will join Stephan Bonnar as a semi-retired fighter?
5. After defeating Okami tonight, is there anything left for Anderson to accomplish?
It's rare for fighters in combat sports to just clear out a division to the point where there aren't any serious title challengers. Tonight we could see Anderson placed in that very situation. Should he defeat Yushin Okami, he will be the greatest fighter of our generation. It will also mean that there aren't really any competitive fights left for him at middleweight. He'll keep fighting, but is it possible to get excited for fights against either Brian Stann or Mark Munoz? Or a Chris Leben rematch? I'm at a loss for who Anderson should fight. If the remainder of his career will be against fighters who aren't serious threats, it just seems like a massive waste.