UFC 160 preview: Four burning questions going into ‘Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2' in Las Vegas

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Every time UFC puts on 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 (May 25, 2013) the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to pay-per-view (PPV) for the fifth time this year as UFC 160: "Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2" goes down from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez returns to the Octagon for his second attempt at a first title defense when he puts his belt on the line against top contender Antonio Silva in a rematch from a 2012 meeting which Velasquez won by first-round (technical) knockout.

Along with the headlining bout of Velasquez vs. Silva, former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos competes for the first time since losing the title last December when he meets the surging Mark Hunt in the co-main event of the evening.

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 160 this weekend:

4. Mark Hunt's Incredible Career Resurgence -- Will It Continue?
The "Super Samoan" Mark Hunt has revitalized his career in the his last four fights, picking up consecutive victories in the heavyweight division against Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve after a five-year winless drought.

Confidence is a powerful thing in mixed martial arts (MMA), and right now Hunt might have more of it than anyone else in the sport.

Unfortunately, the momentum of his last four wins was staggered in the lead-up to Saturday's fight as Hunt has had difficulties acquiring a work visa to travel to the United States for the fight. Hunt was lucky enough to be granted a visa; however, it significantly delayed his arrival time in America, which could ultimately play a negative role in his performance.

Nevertheless, the 39-year-old will attempt to tie a career-best five-fight win-streak when he takes on former UFC champion Junior dos Santos, who enters the fight on the heels of his first UFC defeat.

The fight against "Cigano" is by far the most important of Hunt's career and the toughest match up he has faced in the UFC to date. Even though he is a heavy underdog, Hunt's knockout power makes him a legitimate threat to any man and a win at UFC 160 would only add to the story of one of the best career resurgences in the sport's history.

3. Can Antonio Silva Do Better Against Cain Velasquez?
The last time Antonio Silva stepped in the cage against Cain Velasquez was exactly 365 days prior to UFC 160, and it was one of the bloodiest and one-sided beatdowns in UFC history.

Yet here we are. The Brazilian is set to rematch Velasquez for the title one year after their initial meeting and everyone's wondering what --if anything-- has changed going into part two.

There's a good chance the fight isn't going to play out the same as the first and "Bigfoot" won't be taken down in the first 15 seconds and suffer from a huge gash on his head. But even if it stays standing and there is no blood, Silva's chances of winning seem meager.

As proven in his wins over Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem, the 33-year-old is capable of finishing anyone with his incredible knockout power, but the disparity in speed and athleticism when comparing his skill set with Velasquez is too much to overcome.

While few expect Silva to defeat Velasquez for the title, it would be difficult for him to have a worse showing than the first fight, meaning the only place for him to go is up -- something that could prove to be dangerous for the champion.

2. Which Lightweight Will Earn A Shot At Benson Henderson's Title?
The next lightweight title contender will be established in Las Vegas when former two-time title challenger Gray Maynard takes on surging Canadian T.J. Grant on the UFC 160 main card.

The fight is extremely important for both men, as opportunities to fight for a world championship don't come around often. Each man is just one win away from positioning for a shot at achieving what every fighter who enters the sport dreams of.

For Maynard, he is just one-fight removed from a 155-pound title loss to Frankie Edgar, but will have the chance to get right back into a championship fight with a win. Grant, on the other hand, has never competed for a UFC title but his four-fight win-streak has allowed him to soar up the rankings and put his name on the map in a hurry.

It is unknown at this time when the winner of Maynard vs. Grant will challenge Ben Henderson for the lightweight title, but we do know is UFC 160 is a marquee moment with serious repercussions for the future of the UFC's 155-pound weight class.

1. Will Cain Velasquez Start His Second Title Reign In Positive Fashion?
After defeating Brock Lesnar for the UFC heavyweight championship in Oct. 2010, many believed the then undefeated Cain Velasquez was the fighter to rule the UFC's biggest weight class with an iron fist for year to come.

Velasquez isn't too big or too small for the weight class; is quick, powerful, athletic and in what is perhaps his biggest weapon, has cardio that puts shame to not just heavyweights, but MMA fighters across all weight classes.

His title reign would be short-lived though, as in his first title defense the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product was knocked out by Junior dos Santos in just 64 seconds.

The blame for that defeat can be placed in multiple areas, but regardless there is no changing the fact Velasquez had a false start in his first title reign.

Fortunately, the 30-year-old has a level of resiliency few in the sport have displayed and less than two years later is back atop the heavyweight division, avenging his only career defeat to dos Santos at UFC 155 to win the title for a second time.

As only one of five fighters in UFC history to become a multi-time champion in a single weight class, Velasquez has already accomplished more than most fighters ever will, but he does not want to go down as the man who was able to win the title twice, but also failed to defend the title twice.

Regardless of if fans think it's a mismatch in favor of the champion, Saturday night is an extremely important fight for the legacy of Velasquez, as he will get a second attempt at kicking off a long and successful title reign.

Tune in to UFC 160 this Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, only on PPV to find out all the answers to these questions and more.

Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 160 fight card on fight night, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:35 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.

For the latest UFC 160 news and notes check out our complete event archive right here. To check out the latest "Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2" fight card and rumors click here.

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