UFC on FOX 8 preview: Four burning questions going into ‘Johnson vs. Moraga' in Seattle

Paul Abell-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 (July 27, 2013), the Octagon travels to the northwestern city of Seattle, Wash., for the second time in seven months for the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) third network television event of 2013 and eighth overall as UFC on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Moraga" goes down inside KeyArena.

For the second time in the past three FOX events, flyweight titleholder Demetrious Johnson will compete in the main event of the evening when he puts his belt up for grabs against challenger John Moraga.

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 on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Moraga" this weekend:

4. Does Melvin Guillard Need A Victory To Stay Employed?
Roughly two years ago Melvin Guillard was on top of the world. "The Young Assassin" was riding a brilliant five-fight UFC win-streak and appeared to be on the verge of finally reaching his goal of competing for the lightweight championship.
Then it all came crashing down.

Guillard entered his UFC 144 fight with Joe Lauzon overconfident and was submitted just 47-seconds into the fight. Three months later, Guillard fought Jim Miller in the UFC on FX 1 main event and, once again, was forced to tap out in the first round.

The 30-year-old managed to rebound with a somewhat lackluster decision win over Fabricio Camoes at UFC 148, but then decided to take another fight against Donald Cerrone less than one month later at UFC 150.

Guillard's was knocked out for the first time in his 45-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) against "Cowboy" and six months later he returned to the cage to lose a split decision to Jamie Varner at UFC 155.

Four losses in his last five fights is more than enough to take Guillard far off his game, but since his December 2012 loss to Varner things haven't got much better as the Louisiana native had a past brush with the law come to light and was also forced to relocate training camps.

Even though he's been with the UFC since 2005 and has long been known as one of the most exciting and devastating fighters on the roster, no one is immune to being released and going into his UFC on FOX 8 showdown with Mac Danzig, Guillard badly needs to come out on top as he can not afford only one victory in six fights.

Guillard has a lot riding on this fight and has a tremendous amount to prove to not only the fans, but himself as well. If he can get a win over Danzig his job will be safe for the near future, but if Guillard fails to get his hand raised yet again it could be last fans see of him inside the Octagon for the foreseeable future.

3. Is Rory MacDonald Ready For Jake Ellenberger?
Rory MacDonald may be 5-1 in the UFC, but at this point it's safe to say "Ares" has never defeated anyone as dangerous as Jake Ellenberger.

B.J. Penn, who MacDonald dominated in his last fight, is long past his prime and a victory over "The Prodigy" doesn't mean nearly what it used too. Three of the other four men MacDonald has defeated are either competing in a different weight class or out of the UFC entirely, which raises questions about the quality of opposition the Canadian has faced thus far in his career.

MacDonald brings an outstanding 14-1 professional MMA record to the Octagon to face "The Juggernaut" in the co-main of UFC on FOX 8 in a fight that could potentially determine the next No. 1 contender in the welterweight division.

Training out of Tristar Gym in Montreal alongside great fighters such as UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, Francis Carmont, John Makdessi and more -- MacDonald is a highly talented competitor who can both knock out and submit his opponents.

At UFC on FOX 8, the 23-year-old will get his toughest test to date in the form of Ellenberger, a man ranked as the No. 4 170-pound fighter in the world and is coming off a hellacious first-round knockout of former UFC title challenger Nate Marquardt.
Facing Ellenberger is a stern test for MacDonald and will determine whether or not he is capable of defeating the highest echelon of fighters the UFC has to offer and not just those who hover in the middle of the pack.

2. Can Jake Ellenberger Derail The Rory MacDonald Hype Train?
While MacDonald's true talents likely won't be fully revealed until he hits his athletic peak in the next couple of years, Jake Ellenberger appears to think he already has the young Canadian all figured out.

In the lead-up to UFC on FOX 8, Ellenberger has been extremely vocal with his feelings about MacDonald, saying the 23-year-old has been built up by the media and isn't nearly as impressive or skilled as he is touted to be.

Ellenberger is adamant that he is going to halt the momentum of MacDonald in a devastating fashion when the two clash on Saturday night, and while he talks a good game, "The Juggernaut" still has to back it all up inside the Octagon.

A strong case can be made that Ellenberger is the toughest opponent MacDonald has faced in his MMA career, and he is not going to go down easy.

Ellenberger is bursting with confidence going into this fight and is carrying a demeanor as if he has already won. If that confidence can translate into results, it could be a quick night of work for Ellenberger and MacDonald's hype train will be taking an unwelcomed detour.

1. Who Will Leave With The UFC Flyweight Championship?
For the fourth FOX event in a row, the UFC is giving fans a world championship fight on free television, this time featuring 125-pound kingpin Demetrious Johnson as he looks to defend his belt for the second time against the unheralded John Moraga.

The flyweight division is still relatively new to the UFC and most casual fans are unaware how talented the fighters in the organization's smallest weight class really are. What better way to expose them to that by putting the fight on free TV?

On paper, Johnson vs. Moraga has everything necessary for a great fight. Both men are fast, athletic, explosive, and possess respectable striking, grappling and jiu-jitsu. Moreover, they have endurance that can last for days.

Johnson speed and footwork is something to behold. "Mighty Mouse" can hit opponents with a strike or a takedown before they ever see it coming, something that gives him a tremendous advantage in any fight. Oppositely, Moraga may not be as quick, but he is a slick grappler and has a worthy amount of power in his strikes for a man his size.

From a betting standpoint, Johnson is the favorite, but that doesn't mean Moraga should be counted out by any stretch of the imagination. There is always a tremendous amount of pressure on a champion going into a title defense, and Johnson's performance could be precursor to a long and successful title reign, or perhaps Moraga wins and begins a dominant reign of his own at the top of the weight class.

Tune in to UFC on FOX 8: "Johnson vs. Moraga" this Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to find out all the answers to these question and more.

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire card on fight night (Sat., July 27, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts and then main card action, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

For more news and notes on the card, visit our complete event archive here.

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