And even though the crowd’s intensity and passion will certainly be on display, there are mixed martial arts (MMA) subjects that remain uncertain.
Featherweight juggernaut Jose Aldo puts his coveted 145-pound championship against the man mixed martial arts (MMA) fans call "Korean Zombie," Chan Sung Jung. Both World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) veterans headline the promotion's ninth trip to Brazil, alongside a co-main event battle between former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and top division contender, Phil Davis.
Several interesting storylines, including title pictures, pay-per-view (PPV) concerns and the state of a particular fighter in a small division are all on the radar as we take a look at "Five Burning Questions" heading into UFC 163 this Saturday night.
Drum roll please .....
5. Is this the end of the road for Ian McCall?
"Uncle Creepy" is a popular figure among fans not only for his sense of humor, but his honesty and troubles he has overcome outside the cage. McCall was without a shadow of a doubt at the top of the Flyweight ladder before the division’s induction into the UFC. And if it was not for a bogus judging error against Demetrious Johnson at UFC on FX 2 in the inaugural 125-pound tournament, the whole picture could have been reversed this present day.
But, McCall has had some trouble to adjust in the big league, dropping a rematch to Johnson and not having much luck against a game Joseph Benavidez at UFC 157. He does not have a win in the UFC, let alone was outmatched by better fighters in his last two fights.
"If I lose this fight, I deserve a pink slip", McCall confessed on Sherdog Radio Network’s "Beatdown" show earlier this week. McCall finds himself on the "Prelims" card against Iliarde Santos, a 35-fight veteran who tasted defeat to Yuri Alcantara in his debut.
He can always deliver an exciting fight and has not yet to been in a boring one under the Zuffa banner; however, wins are typically what matter most to remain employed. The only thing that could help McCall if he loses on Saturday night is that the UFC is in dire need of bulking up the thin division, but McCall cannot afford to be riding on that as a possibility, even for a guy who is third in its official ranking system.
4. Can the relatively unknown main card fighters deliver on PPV?
Despite the common mistake to judge a card before it actually happens, a level of interest among fight fans must be achieved. The three other bouts that round up the main card is a Middleweight contest between Cezar Ferreira and Thiago Santos, another between Thales Leites and Tom Watson and a Flyweight bout featuring John Lineker against Jose Tome.
Tome and Santos make their promotional debuts, while Ferreira has one main card appearance. The only man who has appeared on a main card besides him is Leites, who simultaneously holds the throne to possibly the worst main event in UFC history against Anderson Silva at UFC 97. In addition, he returns to the Octagon after a three-year absence. Lineker could be next in line for a 125-pound title shot, but that says more about the division’s depth (or lack thereof) than it does a main card slot.
It is a tough predicament for UFC to consider since it awards main card slots to the competitors who truly deserve it as opposed to having well-known fighters who attract the average fan. To increase the amount of PPV buy rates though, the need for household names to attract those who stay indoors and dish out the fee is expected.
Keep in mind Demian Maia versus Josh Koscheck was scrapped because the latter suffered an injury and the former could not get a timely replacement. Despite Lineker and Ferreira obtaining replacements for their bouts, the intrigue is low.
With the continuous coverage of UFC Fight Night 26 in less than two weeks and the "UFC World Tour" that is currently promoting four upcoming title bouts from UFC 165 through UFC 168, the popularity for this event fell somewhat by the wayside. Some will argue a lack of big names or star appeal for this event diminishes the value and despite that being inconsiderate toward the Middleweights and Flyweights shaping the main card, it is hard to counter that argument.
3. Does "Korean Zombie" stand a chance against Aldo?
Yes, he does.
Everyone stands a chance, but is he getting enough credit to possibly pull it off? Not in the least bit. Aldo is expected to handily defeat the South Korean slugger, but Jung can pull off the upset with the right gameplan. He just needs to make sure that plan is unlike any other brought forth to Aldo in the Brazilian’s near four-year title reign.
Jung has a unique way of constantly moving forward no matter how battered he may be and that has the capability to frustrate any opponent he is matched up against. He must be wary of Aldo’s patience, along with his accurate strikes, as the champion likes to slow down the pace and pick point his shots for the maximum amount of damage possible (not to mention avoiding being on the receiving end of those harmful and demoralizing leg kicks).
As Jung said himself, Aldo has more power, but he does a lot more weakening during the course of the bout and thinks their striking is similar. It may not be a good idea to throw caution to the wind and come out guns blazing, but it would not be a bad idea for "Zombie" to consider either.
If Jung has a way of showing superiority on the ground against Aldo, he should give it a shot since "Scarface" has shown weaknesses off his back. Jung will not hesitate to engage in a slugfest if he has to – it just may be a risky idea if he waits to pick his shots and stand in front of the Nova Uniao-trained powerhouse.
2. Should we approach Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis as a title eliminator bout?
It is a tough question to ask since both men are on win streaks, but are equally coming off dull performances. Machida has had four title bouts in the past and is no stranger when it comes to pressure; however, maybe the UFC wants to hold onto making this fight a true title eliminator based on previous performances.
"Mr. Wonderful" is a solid test for any of the top Light Heavyweight contenders, but he is missing a big win that will leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is ready for the shot. This is a mega step up for Davis, who faces a lethal Machida at the right time if he is setting his sights on the gold. Despite there being few other contenders in the 205-pound division, the race is wide open for the next fighter to face the winner of Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165.
Unlike the upper crust of the weight class, Machida and Davis have a chance to prove their worth in the upcoming days.
Having beaten Dan Henderson, Ryan Bader and Randy Couture in his last three victories, Machida has wins over top guys that Davis lacks. All Machida needs is a trustworthy performance, and if he stops Davis, his next move is written in stone.
It all depends if he goes for it this time or not.
A win for the underdog would be a huge statement, but it all depends on how Davis gets it done. If the crowd showers both fighters with a chorus of boos, it would not be good for either of them, but Machida could afford it more than Davis can.
The world has seen Machida’s exciting style before (albeit inconsistently). it is now time for Davis to bring that forward if he is serious about being a legitimate threat to the champion.
1. Is Jose Aldo the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world with a win?
It would be a silly error to nullify Aldo’s place among the world’s best, but if he is the culprit of a one-sided victory on Saturday night, Aldo could very well be the best fighter on the planet. It would be foolish to assume he is not already in the top five or let alone in the top three, depending on who you ask, but his decisive victories along with his satisfactory finishing rate should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind when it comes to his excellence.
Looking toward his counterparts who share the same elite status, Anderson Silva is still the frontrunner for the best fighter in the world, but his devastating knockout loss against Chris Weidman at UFC 162 could have dethroned him for now until the rematch in Dec. 2013.
His Octagon reign of 16 consecutive victories may never be matched, but one has to believe at 38 years old, he is destined to slow down. Jones may be the closest to breaking that record since he is already halfway there (and four wins away if it wasn’t for his lone disqualification loss against Matt Hamill in 2009) and has faced the top tier of Light Heavyweights in his two-year title reign.
Jones has finished all but one fighter in his title reign, but like Aldo, Jones’ best years are ahead of him, which is an eerie feeling when thinking about his inferiority thus far. Georges St. Pierre, the "go-to" fighter when Silva lost to hold the top spot, is deserving of his place however fans have become intensely critical of the Montreal native simply because of his finishing rate (since his last stoppage was in 2009 and was a corner stoppage at that).
Aldo, on the other hand, is undefeated in his UFC career with four wins, never tasted defeat in WEC and has a combined amount of 12 wins in his Zuffa career. His finishing rate is standard, with three knockouts out of seven possible opportunities in his title fights.
If ranking the best fighter in the world is a matter of opinion, Aldo’s place at the top is just as deserving as his three comrades. If he impressively conquers Jung on Saturday night, he becomes the best featherweight in the history of the sport.
Tune in to UFC 163 this Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT to find out all the answers to these "burning" questions and many more.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 163 card on fight night (Sat., Aug. 3, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 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 more UFC 163: "Aldo vs. Korean Zombie" news and notes be sure to check out our complete event archive here.