Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) year-end event is just a few days away, and thankfully, we have the holidays to distract us from clock-watching.
UFC 168: "Weidman vs. Silva 2" takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night (Dec. 28, 2013), featuring two of the most anticipated title rematches in the sport's history.
Chris Weidman would like to repeat his title-winning performance of UFC 162, where he dethroned Anderson Silva via second round knockout after the former champion began clowning around in the Octagon. Weidman won his tenth straight fight and beat a legend in the process.
Some are saying this could be the biggest rematch ever in UFC history.
Another highly anticipated rematch serves as our co-main event, as recent The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate will finally settle their differences in the cage after a tumultuous season on the promotion's reality show. Their rivalry has bee about to boil over ever since Tate lost the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight championship to Rousey back at Strikeforce: "Tate vs. Rousey" in early 2012, a title that inevitably became part of UFC's plans one year ago.
Apart from there being a handful of other notable fights worth checking out, these are the most interesting story lines heading into Las Vegas, including Heavyweight combatants, alongside the need for certain individuals to make it two straight or flip the switch over their respective opponents in the main and co-main events.
Here are five burning questions heading into UFC 168 this weekend:
5) Is this event worth the extra bump in price?
This would obviously have to be included as a question since it has been a hot topic for quite some time from the time it has been announced.
UFC has valued this fight card above any other event in its history, jacking up the price to five extra dollars for the pay-per-view (PPV) purchase.
Granted, there are two title fights, both being some of the most anticipated rematches in the sport's history, along with a heavyweight affair that will without a doubt excite us.
However, after that, what is different from the rest of the cards we have been accustomed to expect? The card is thoroughly solid and for a PPV purchase, it should be.
What exactly is this reason for this raise? Simply, because UFC can and will when it comes to an end of the year event that cannot be missed.
4) Can an emphatic win for either Travis Browne or Josh Barnett change the heavyweight plan?
As it stands, Cain Velasquez is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be out of action for what is predicted to be a year's time. UFC President Dana White does not seem fit for an interim title so the winner of Travis Browne and Josh Barnett would most likely have to face Fabricio Werdum, who was next in line and has been patiently waiting for his shot since submitting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC on Fuel TV 10 back in June 2013.
What happens if Browne or Barnett dominate, and in other words, win emphatically? If the winner of this bout wipes out his opponent in a contest that was anything but competitive, would he leapfrog to the front of the line? Would the brass consider making an interim title fight after all?
It is widely suspected that the winner of this fight could see himself in a title bout for their next encounter. With Werdum looming and Velasquez currently on the shelf, all is now possible.
3) Can Miesha Tate avoid the wrath of Ronda Rousey's armbar?
Miesha Tate said she would not be caught in her foe's armbar ever again, and more precisely, the move that tore apart her arm almost two years ago in Strikeforce when these two bitter enemies first met.
Tate may have more experience than Ronda Rousey, although as it stands, nobody has had the chance to dethrone Rousey and her deadly first-round submission maneuver that has claimed the limbs of seven fighters thus far. There has been a tidal wave of animosity between these two young ladies (which included opposite coaching roles on this past season of TUF 18). And their co-main event duel on Saturday night could not come sooner to prove who either gains the upper advantage in this rivalry ... or who puts it to rest.
Both competitors cannot afford to lose this fight. It would essentially be the death of both Rousey and Tate in terms of winning the biggest grudge match of their respective careers.
2) Where does Anderson Silva go with a loss?
"The Spider" did not seem too thrilled about the idea of a rematch moments after he lost the middleweight strap to Chris Weidman at UFC 162 this past July; however, he changed his mind and decided to claim back what he feels is rightfully his.
If Anderson Silva loses to Chris Weidman for a second time in a row, what would happen to his career? Having earning the title of one of the best fighters to ever live (if not the best fighter in the world), Silva could hang around for a few more fights, but deep down inside, would he want to at age 38?
Before Silva lost to Weidman in the summer, he had 17 straight victories, and there is no question he would go down as one of the best ever. With a potential boxing match with Roy Jones Jr. on the horizon, would Silva have other plans if he drops a second loss to his middleweight counterpart?
What else would make sense for him in the UFC, other than superfights? Although retirement could be an option, who knows exactly how Silva would approach a loss.
1) Can Chris Weidman repeat history for his legacy?
It was tough for Weidman to acquire respect after his win over Silva back in July. He had just won the middleweight gold, he improved to 10-0 and he knocked out a legend who had never suffered defeat in such a manner.
Being the first fighter to ever stop Silva by knockout, many leaned towards Silva's antics and his lack of thereof when in the cage with Weidman. Some called it a fluke, some called it lucky, and some said the fight was a straight up fix.
The harsh reality is that if Weidman wants to assure his place in history should not be tarnished with complaints, it is in his best interest to show the world what happened the first time was not by any means a lucky strike.
The New York native would like nothing more to prove that he can stop his opponent again, and Weidman (along with his trainers) has been vocal about his plans and feels like he could finish the fight decisively the second time around, just like they did in the first.
Weidman does not necessarily need the finish on Saturday night, however, he needs to make it decisive if he wants to put the doubt to rest.
The second fight between these two middleweights could not come any sooner, and perhaps a better question is if this fight will look anything remotely close to what it looked like on July 6, 2013.