UFC 157: Four burning questions going into 'Rousey vs Carmouche' in Anaheim

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Every time UFC stages an event, speculation, questions and theories emerge about which fighters will perform ... or underperform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the Octagon, questions swirl.

This Saturday night (Feb. 23, 2013), the Octagon hits Anaheim, Calif., for the first time since 2011 for a historic pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza as UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" goes down at the Honda Center.

A women's bantamweight championship contest receives top billing at the event, as reigning 135-pound champion Ronda Rousey graces the Octagon for the first time in 13 to take on No. 1 contender Liz Carmouche.

There are several interesting mixed martial arts (MMA) storylines to follow going into and coming out of the upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event, but only four can make this "burning" list.

That being said, here are four burning questions going into UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" this weekend:

4. Can Lyoto Machida knockout Dan Henderson?

In the UFC 157 co-main event, Lyoto Machida will take on former two-division Pride FC champion Dan Henderson in a fight that has all the makings for a highlight-reel finish. Machida, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, will look to keep his momentum going against coming off a second-round destruction of Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4 in Aug. 2012.

Machida and Henderson are capable grapplers and have submission skills, however, both are universally known for crippling knockout ability. Machida has only been finished once in his career by strikes (Mauricio Rua), and Henderson has never been finished via strikes. Alternatively, "The Dragon" has seven knockout wins on his record. Henderson has 13 knockout wins, nine in the first round.

Henderson's ability to take a punch is one thing that has held up over the years. However, in his past two fights against Fedor Emelianenko and "Shogun" Rua, the former Olympian has been hurt with strikes, but managed to survive the flurries and went on the win both fights. Seeing "Hendo" get into slighty more trouble with each passing fight has to make one wonder how much longer his chin will hold up 37 fights into his career and at the tender age of 42.

The stats would suggest the fight has a high probability of ending by knockout or technical knockout, but the question is, can Machida be the first one be the first person to put the iron-jawed Henderson to sleep?

3. Will Dan Henderson earn a light heavyweight title shot?

After more than one year away from the Octagon where he endured an injury that forced him out a scheduled light heavyweight title fight with Jon Jones, Dan Henderson returns to the Octagon since for the first time since his all-time classic battle against "Shogun" Rua in November 2011.

Henderson takes on Lyoto Machida in the co-main event of UFC 157 and according to UFC President Dana White, a win over the Brazilian will be grounds for giving "Hendo" a title shot at the winner of UFC 159's main event between Jones and No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen.

Henderson and Jones have had their beef over the past year and were just days away from fighting at UFC 151 until Henderson injured himself and was forced out of the bout, ultimately resulting in the cancelation of the event.

While Henderson nursed his injury, the UFC went on to book Jones and Henderson's good friend Sonnen as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show with a fight against one another scheduled for April 27.

At first, Henderson was openly disgruntled with the UFC's choice to book Jones vs. Sonnen, but as time has gone by, the former Strikeforce champion has accepted the situation and claims he is past the thought of the belt and just wants to keep active and he'll eventually get there.

The likes of Daniel Cormier, Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira are in the hunt for a title shot at 205 pounds as well, but given White's recent comments, it seems a Henderson victory -- no matter what fashion in comes in -- will be enough to slide him into the No. 1 contenders spot.

The question is: can the 2:1 underdog pull it off?

2. Can Liz Carmouche stop the rise of Ronda Rousey?

With all the media attention, talk and focus directed at female MMA superstar Ronda Rousey and her official UFC debut this Saturday night, everyone seems to be forgetting that Rousey will actually have an opponent at UFC 157.

Liz Carmouche is a former Marine-turned-MMA-fighter and over the course of her three-year, 10-fight career has faced some of the best women out there. On paper, Carmouche holds the advantage over Rousey in the striking department in terms of in-fight success while Rousey is obviously the better grappler because of her Olympic-level Judo skills.

Although she is good at taking down opponents and pounding them out, the highest percentage for Carmouche to win the fight is to keep it standing and try to test the relatively unproven striking abilities of Rousey. With five knockout wins on her resume, "Girl-Rilla" has the power to finish Rousey, but she needs to keep the fight in striking range for an extended period of time in order to do that, something no women has been able to accomplish before.

While her chances may seem slim, Carmouche is capable of pulling off the upset on Saturday night. As people who follow the sport will say, anything can happen in mixed martial arts.

1. How will Ronda Rousey react to a fight lasting longer than one round?

Six fights into her professional mixed martial arts career, "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey has defeated every foe placed before her, all by armbar submission, all in the first round.

With devastating finishing skills, an undefeated MMA record and at only 26 years of age, Rousey is unquestionably the biggest star in female MMA and already has two world championship belts to show for her efforts (the now-defunct Strikeforce title and the UFC belt).

A lot has been made of Rousey's swift and decisive victories over her opponent, but even in victory, the same questions are repeatedly asked. What happens if Rousey's fight goes longer than one-round? How is Rousey's physical conditioning? Can she take a punch to the face? Will she be discouraged if she can't submit her opponent? Does she have a back-up plan?

At this point, those questions have not needed answers, but Rousey has never fought an opponent as mentally tough and capable of dragging her into deep waters as Liz Carmouche. If Rousey is able to finish Carmouche in the first round, then more power to her. But if and when the clock passes the five-minute mark, that's when things will get interesting.

Who will win the first-even women's bantamweight title fight in UFC history? Check out UFC 157: "Rousey vs. Carmouche" this Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT only on PPV to find out all the answers to these questions and more.

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