UFC Fight Night 30 takes place this Saturday (Oct. 26, 2013) when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) visits Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England, with a Middleweight bout that features two competitors, Mark Munoz and Lyoto Machida, who are looking for a spark that will lead them to the top of the 185-pound heap.
An injury (details here) forced countryman Michael Bisping out of a five-round, main event contest with Munoz, who is now tasked with introducing former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Machida, to the weight class for the first time ever (details here).
Machida is coming off a loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163, which many feel was controversial. "Filipino Wrecking Machine," meanwhile, ousted Tim Boetsch at UFC 162 and is looking to make it two-straight inside the Octagon, with his only loss in six most recent contests coming at the hands of division champion, Chris Weidman, at UFC on Fuel TV 6 in July 2012.
Also on this card is a dynamic Lightweight fight between the United Kingdom's Ross Pearson and Melvin Guillard. "Real Deal" will try to feed off of his two stoppage wins over Ryan Couture and George Sotiropoulos, while "Young Assassin" looks to improve his record of 2-4 in his last six appearances.
Also on the FOX Sports 2 mixed martial arts (MMA) main card are contests between Jimi Manuwa and Ryan Jimmo and Norman Parke and Jon Tuck, while Alessio Sakara battles Nicholas Musoke and Phil Harris takes on John Lineker in an intriguing Flyweight battle.
Without further ada, "Five Burning Questions," UFC Fight Night 30: "Machida vs. Munoz" edition:
5. Will this card overshadow Michael Bisping's missed presence?
It is tough to say because other than the main- and co-main events, there is nothing truly dazzling about this fight card. Sure, the main card opens with a 125-pound bout between John Lineker and Phil Harris that should entertain, however, fans are not exactly counting down the days until this event happens.
Say what you will about Bisping, but normally events in United Kingdom revolve around him. When news broke that he was injured, it was a devastating blow to this fight card. Maybe some feel like the main event got better, while many others maybe not.
The point is he is still missed, and the hysteria for those who paid to see him in the flesh is long gone.
We should never judge a card before it happens, and we have been surprised before when we counted our chickens before they hatched. Unfortunately, as it stands, there simply is not enough that catches the eye for us to think so just days before it all unfolds.
4. Will England ever get a stellar fight card?
With the European expansion and the promise to be blown away by future plans, hope is not lost. There have been 14 fight cards that have taken place in the United Kingdom and yes, Michael Bisping is usually at the center of the fold when arranging a possible event.
Apart from UFC 120, which was forgetful and Dana White's way of saying "sorry" for the whole Anderson Silva thing at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi (alongside UFC 122, which was also in Europe), England has not really ever gotten a stellar fight card (from top-to-bottom).
UFC does have big plans up its sleeve, so better to wait than complain about it. However, fight fans living in Las Vegas, Canada or Brazil are quite grateful for the amount of great events they have been treated to in comparison to our English friends.
3. Is Jimi Manuwa an underrated fighter or one who has not proven anything yet ... or both?
Jimi Manuwa is undefeated (13-0) and has not gone to a decision yet in any of those wins. The one-time BAMMA competitor stopped both Cyrille Diabate and Kyle Kingsbury because of injury and doctor stoppage, respectively.
At 33 years old, he has already elapsed prospect status. In other words, his time should be now. Although, have we seen enough of Manuwa to establish him as a possible force in the 205-pound division?
We will get more of a clear-cut answer if he can beat Ryan Jimmo this Saturday. If he can finish a competitor as tough and as durable as Jimmo, we may have to keep a closer eye on "Poster Boy" heading into 2014.
A lack of top 10 opponents is apparent. And by no means can we say he is a future star right now. With a quality performance this weekend, he could steer us closer to believing he has the ability to be a divisional dark horse to watch in the New Year.
2. Will we finally see a consistent Melvin Guillard?
We have seen Melvin Guillard's consistency when he strung together impressive five wins throughout 2010 and 2011, although he has never been able to surpass the obstacles that stand in front of a title shot, which has been his Kryptonite.
He has had tumultuous experiences outside of the cage that could play a factor in his weak showings, although with a change of camp and new scenery, Guillard's best chance to rise is now ... or never. He faces Ross Pearson, who is seemingly on the rise also, but he has not squandered half the amount of chances as Guillard.
Since 2005, the fans have waited for Guillard to finally reach his full potential. And just when you thought he was there, he would lose the big fight that would skyrocket him to a title shot ... and often lose badly. He has been very streaky, and when a second stint in UFC started at UFC 86, it looked like he was finally in top form.
If Guillard feels at home now, he needs to show that to all of his naysayers that he could finally get a title shot after being with the company since 2005, with only one fight outside of the promotion since then. With his back-on-track knockout over Mac Danzig at UFC on Fox 8, finishing Pearson would propel him to another Top 10 opponent and it would be all up to him from that day forward.
1. Will Lyoto Machida bring forth another boring performance?
The general consensus is that Machida and Mark Munoz could be a boring fight. Munoz has not had that many stinkers in his career, but the counterattack-minded Machida has not only faced criticism from fellow fighters for his fighting style, but he has bored us to death in a few fights that were supposed to be epic battles.
You cannot fault an athlete who has a gameplan and a specific fight style, especially if it works. Machida is known for his karate style, and for being "elusive," as Joe Rogan calls it. However, at times Machida does not engage, and it sometimes forces his opponent to make a mistake (as we saw with Ryan Bader and Thiago Silva), while other times his opponent catches on and could play the same game, or he tries to make an exciting fight out of it.
Some have figured out Machida's style, whilst others have not. The punch-hungry United Kingdom crowd may lose patience with Machida if he fights familiarly, which could be a problem for the brass who may have to justify the marquee match up to ticket holders.
Machida's last few fights have not been pretty. He lost to Phil Davis at UFC 163 in Brazil, and sometimes when the judges do not sway in your direction, you must ask yourself what went wrong -- he never really troubled Davis all that much. This is not to say he did not win the fight, but some could argue he did not do enough to win.
Maybe a change of weight classes with benefit the former Light Heavyweight champion or maybe he will be more eager, faster and lighter on his feet. Maybe it will not change anything, either.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 30 card this Saturday afternoon, starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 12:15 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 2-televised main card bouts at 3 p.m. ET.