UFC on FOX 9 preview: Five Burning Questions heading into 'Johnson vs Benavidez 2' in Sacramento

Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Before every fight card, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans toggle between possible scenarios and what to expect days before it all unfolds in front of their eyes. Probable outcomes, distinguishable facts and head-scratching theories are all apart of the mystique that surrounds the fights on any given night. We ask ourselves the same questions … and try to come out with different answers.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) visits the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., this weekend (Sat., Dec. 14, 2013) for UFC on FOX 9: "Johnson vs. Benavidez 2," showcasing lighter weight classes on the televised main card.

The primetime mixed martial arts (MMA) event took a bit of a beating in terms of fight cancellations and injuries; however, there will still be a title fight worth talking about when Demetrious Johnson looks to make it three successful title defenses against the competitor he beat to win the vacant title, Joseph Benavidez.

Apart from there being a handful of other notable fights worth checking out, there are several interesting storylines heading into Sacramento, including two familiar foes in the main event, along with underdogs looking for their chance to break out and shine.

Here are five burning questions heading into UFC on FOX 9 this weekend:

5. Is Scott Jorgensen too tall of an order for Zach Makovsky?

Just more than two weeks removed from winning the flyweight title at Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) 11 against Michael Manzanares, "Fun Size" steps up to the plate against Scott Jorgensen this weekend, replacing Jon Dodson (who had originally replaced Ian McCall.

This will no question be the toughest fight of Makovsky's fighting career, who has fought for notable promotions such as Bellator, Deep, and Elite XC.

The former Bellator Bantamweight champion has never faced someone as experienced as Jorgensen, who has been competing at the highest level for nearly six years now, facing several of the best fighters in the world in Renan Barao, Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, among others.

Makovsky could surprise us all and show the world that he has finally landed as a premier Flyweight to watch in the big leagues.

Also, it must be stressed that Jorgensen is making his 125-pound debut and has had two other opponents (Ian McCall and John Dodson) drop out because of injuries since the initial announcement.

4. What happens to Joe Lauzon with a loss?

The Boston, Mass., native has lost his past two fights and has only been able to find victory once in his past four appearances. Lauzon has always been an exciting fighter to watch, with many casual fans familiar with his presence when he enters the cage.

UFC would be foolish to cut "Creepy" if Mac Dazing beats him in Sacramento. It simply would be a bad move because of Lauzon's previous history, not to mention his famous career-defining performances against the likes of Jamie Varner, Melvin Guillard and Gabe Ruediger. Ironically, Danzig is in the exact same predicament as Lauzon and a loss could be more costly for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 6 winner since he does not gain as much interest as his counterpart with headlining capabilities or in popularity.

After all, the sport has become an entertainment business.

With both fighters having won a combined amount of 15 post-fight bonuses, a release for either would still be questionable. However, does Lauzon have more to lose moving forward, leaning toward journeyman status at Lightweight with a loss?

3. Is Nik Lentz prepared for the strength of Chad Mendes?

Lentz is strong enough when it comes to his takedowns and wrestling-based onslaught during the course of his fights.

However, he faces a tough task in overcoming the brute force of Chad Mendes, who has a similar pedigree ... only the difference with "Money" is that he has dynamite in his fists.

Both Featherweight standouts are NCAA Division 1 wrestlers whom have each had success at a young age, and hopefully the fans do not boo grappling exchanges that educated observers will look forward to.

If Lentz decides to trade with Mendes, he needs to be wary of his ability to finish fights with one blow (as we saw in his wins over Clay Guida, Cody McKenzie and Yaotzin Meza). Is Mendes stronger when it comes to grappling? One would assume so, given the size difference.

We'll find out soon enough on Saturday.

2. Will Michael McDonald be the one to derail Urijah Faber's future?

When it comes to a fight that is not for the title, Faber does not lose.

It is that simple.

"The California Kid" has six losses ... all title fights. The running joke for some is that Faber cannot win a title or never will win one again. However, there is nothing funny about his record, which stands at 29 wins.

We are not going to say that Faber will meet the toughest test of his career in California this weekend since he has fought almost everyone from Lightweight down to Bantamweight in the sport.

McDonald is more than just the real deal -- he is perhaps the brightest prospect in the sport right now, having lost just twice in his career and giving Barao the most trouble anyone has in the Brazilian's championship tenure.

With three straight finishes in his last three victories, the 22-year old has already won three post-fight bonuses and is destined for greatness in the sport.

Will he make his mark by beating Faber and inserting himself in another title fight shortly after? Or does Faber keep his non-championship fight record in tact?

1. Have we finally seen the Flyweight division come into its own?

Too often, we hear that the Flyweight division is boring or that nobody cares about the fighters who compete at lower weight classes. The best statement yet is that these smaller men cannot finish each other.

Those statements are fairly ignorant, considering the weight class is proving to be the one with the fastest pace, possesses the most volume of strikes on a respective fight card, and is simply one hell of a ride every time we decide to tune in.

The division started off rather slowly, with only four fighters signed under contract and specifically those four competing in a tournament to decide who the first champion will be.

Those two men were Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez.

The two first me at UFC 152, and this has become the division's first natural rivalry. There is no bad blood between the two and trash talk has been practically nonexistent; however, there is a chance these two could cross paths for a third time (depending what happens on Saturday), creating the first trilogy early on in a 125-pound division that is here to stay.

Obviously, UFC could benefit from signing more fighters, yet with fighters such as these two main event competitors, along with other like Jorgensen, Makovsky and John Moraga who have dropped down from heavier weight classes, the future can only get brighter for the lighter fighters.

For more on UFC on FOX 9: "Johnson vs. Benavidez 2" check out our complete event archive here.

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