This Saturday night (Jan. 26, 2013), the Octagon hits Chicago, Ill., for a January network television special for the second straight year as UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson" goes down at the United Center.
A flyweight championship contest receives top billing at the event, as the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson looks to defend his crown for the first time against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 winner John Dodson. There are several interesting storylines to follow going into and coming out of the event, but only four can make the "burning" list.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson" this weekend:
4. Can Clay Guida make a statement in his featherweight debut?
After a disappointing decision loss to Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4 last June, Clay Guida will drop to the featherweight division in hopes of making a run towards the 145-pound title. Guida's journey begins with a preliminary card match up against three-fight UFC veteran Hatsu Hioki at UFC on FOX 6.
"The Carpenter" had a fairly successful tenure in his 16 fights as a UFC lightweight, going 9-7 in the UFC with wins over the likes of Anthony Pettis, Takanori Gomi and Nate Diaz. However, Guida believes he was being physically outmatched in the division and wants to flip the script by cutting the 10 pounds down to lightweight so that he can take his shot at being the bigger man.
A change in weight classes gives Guida the chance to compete against athletes who are of similar physical stature, something that will be hugely beneficial if he can cut the weight effectively. Seeing that he has spent most of his life wrestling and cutting weight, it is hard to imagine that making 145-pounds will be too difficult.
The American is powerful wrestler with decent hands and an endless gas tank. If he can carry his strength and power down with him to the new weight class, he should be able to give a lot of fighter's trouble.
3. How will Glover Teixeira handle a step up in competition?
Glover Teixeira may be the hottest prospect in the UFC light heavyweight division, but the Brazilian yet to have to he opportunity to face the cream of the crop at 205-pounds. Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado, the two fighters Silva holds UFC wins over, aren't exactly the type of opposition that elevates a fighter into the elite of their respective weight class.
Teixeira brings a professional MMA record of 19 wins and two losses to the octagon at UFC on FOX 6 to face former UFC light heavyweight Quinton Jackson in the co-main event from Chicago. Training out of The Pit under the tutelage of Chuck Liddell's former head coach John Hackleman, Teixeira is a highly talented competitor who can both knock out and submit his opponents.
At UFC on FOX 6, the 33-year-old goes from fighting low-tier 205-pounders to "Rampage," a man who has been ranked among the elite of the division for years. Facing Jackson is a stern leap in competition for Teixeira, but one he appears to be more than ready for. However, appearing ready is one thing - performing on fight night is an entirely different animal.
2. Will Quinton Jackson step into the Octagon for the final time?
Five years and 11 months after Quinton Jackson made his UFC debut against Marvin Eastman at UFC 67, "Rampage" appears ready to close out the UFC chapter of his career when he takes on Glover Teixeira in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 6.
Jackson's reasons for the leaving the organization are well documented. The 34-year-old feels betrayed, hurt and underappreciated by the way UFC President Dana White criticized his losing performance against Ryan Bader at UFC 144 last February, a fight "Rampage" claims he fought injured in and the UFC was aware of it, yet discredited his performance anyways.
Some believed the two parties could make up, but after Jackson's comments on last week's UFC on FOX 6 media conference call about the UFC blocking a sponsorship deal with Reebok, it appears any chance of reconciliation with the UFC brass is out of the question.
If "Rampage" is truly done competing inside the Octagon, but plans to continue with his MMA career elsewhere, delivering a strong performance on Saturday night is of critical importance for the former light heavyweight champion. A highlight reel knockout over a very highly touted opponent in Teixeira would boost Jackson's stock and give him more leverage in contract negotiations with companies such as Bellator MMA, One FC or Dream.
It's going to be a real shame to see "Rampage" leave the UFC. From the time he knocked out Chuck Liddell in just 113-seconds at UFC 71, Jackson has been one of the most popular figures in the sport, headlining or co-headlining nine of his last 11 fights.
Maybe there is a way for the UFC and Jackson to work out their issues, but at this point it seems highly unlikely. If Saturday is truly the last time Jackson fights for the UFC, hopefully he goes out the same way he came in: with a highlight reel finish.
1. Who will leave with the UFC flyweight championship?
For the second FOX event in a row, the UFC is giving fans a world championship fight on free television, this time featuring 125-pound kingpin Demetrious Johnson as he looks to defend his belt for the first time against the charismatic TUF 14 winner John Dodson.
The flyweight division is still relatively new to the UFC and most casual fans are unaware how talented the fighters in the UFC's smallest weight class are. What better way to expose them to that by putting the fight on free TV?
On paper, Johnson vs. Dodson has everything necessary for a great fight. Both men are fast, athletic, explosive, and possess respectable striking, grappling and jiu-jitsu. Moreover, they have endurance that can last for days.
Johnson speed and footwork is something to behold. "Mighty Mouse" can hit an opponent with a strike or a takedown before they ever see it coming, something that gives him a tremendous advantage in any fight. Oppositely, Dodson may not be as quick, but he is a one-hitter quitter and can lay anyone out with one punch. Statistically, "The Magician" owns a knockdown-per-minute ratio that is three times the heavyweight average, which should prove he is just as capable of ending a fight at any time as a recognized knockout specialist like Junior dos Santos or Alistair Overeem.
From a betting standpoint, Johnson is the favorite, but that doesn't mean Dodson should be counted out by any stretch of the imagination. There is always a tremendous amount of pressure on a champion to make good in his first title defense, and Johnson's performance could be precursor to a long and successful title reign, or perhaps Dodson wins and it's the start of a revolving door at the top of the flyweight division.
Tune in to UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson" this Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to find out all the answers to these question and more.