We've got another action-packed weekend and this time, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be invading Ohio.
UFC Fight Night 40: "Brown vs. Silva" takes place at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio this, Saturday night (May 10, 2014), and in the main event, Ohio's own Matt Brown makes his long-awaited return to the Octagon as he faces the hard-hitting Erick Silva.
In the co-main event, Costas Philippou faces Lorenz Larkin and also on the FOX Sports 1 (FS1) main card, Erik Koch battles Daron Cruickshank in a lightweight battle while Soa Palelei goes up against Ruan Potts. The FOX Sports 2 (FS2) "Prelims" main event features a middleweight affair pitting Ed Herman against Rafael Natal.
With several interesting storylines emerging from this card, check out our "Five Burning Questions" heading into these fights in Cincinnati:
5. Is this do or die for Ed Herman?
If we're skimming through his record and we happen to notice his recent run, then yes.
"Short Fuse" has been a part of the organization for almost eight years minus his one fight in Strikeforce against Ronaldo Souza. He's 33 years old and despite Herman being in a couple of boring scraps against guys like Jake Shields and Thales Leites, you can bank on him for knocking someone into next Tuesday.
Or going out on his shield.
That being said, he hasn't been very successful in his last bunch of fights, winning only one out of four, and that was his slugfest against Trevor Smith at UFC on FOX 8. If Herman can't find a way to win against Rafael Natal, who needs to bounce back in a big way as well, his next fight might not be inside the Octagon.
4. Should we be giving Soa Palelei a little more credit?
I'm not saying Palelei was the running joke of the heavyweight division, but his UFC 164 bout against Nikita Krylov was an epic stinker in which he looked more exhausted than a Tour de France winner once he had obtained the finish.
His next fight was against Pat Barry, and although he didn't have many bookies on his side for that one, he raised plenty of eyebrows when he knocked out the current GLORY kickboxer in the first round.
Not only is the Australian on a 10-fight winning streak, he's also finished every single one of those opponents by strikes (though his victory over Bob Sapp may not count, since that's the equivalent of someone calling your house and saying you've won a trip to Antigua).
If the slugger gets past promotional newcomer Ruan Potts, I'm not saying we're looking at a future heavyweight champion here, but maybe he's worth keeping an eye on?
3. Is Erik Koch really the new breed?
"New Breed" is Koch's nickname and that's a term we've heard too often when describing the next generation of young fighters who come into the game with a fully-loaded arsenal.
At age 25, Koch has won two "Knockout of The Night" bonuses under ZUFFA, he's finished durable opponents like Raphael Assuncao and Francisco Rivera, and to top it all off, he trains with some top-notch fighters at Roufusport -- including UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Two devastating losses at the hands of Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier at featherweight, however, has forced the young combatant to move up to lightweight and despite acquiring a stoppage against Rafaello Oliveira at UFC 170 in February, his bout against Daron Cruickshank will be a true test of mettle.
If he can topple "The Detroit Superstar," then we can start calling him names that correspond with being the future of the sport. We shouldn't always throw those terms around so loosely.
2. What type of fight could Erick Silva expect if he wins?
We've seen glimpses of Silva's capabilities in UFC and it's safe to say he's surpassed the point where we call him a prospect.
His promotional record isn't that strong, since he's 4-3, but he's lost to some stiff competition like Jon Fitch and Dong Hyun Kim. But, it's interesting to note the Brazilian has more or less squashed his opponents when victorious and he's made mincemeat out of Takenori Sato, Jason High, Charlie Brenneman and Luis Ramos (plus, many pundits will agree his obliteration of Carlo Prater at UFC 142 should have counted as a win on his record).
If Silva defeats a tough and extremely gritty opponent like Brown, what's next for him?
The welterweight division has always been a full house, but hypothetically, "Indio" would be defeating the number seven seed on the official rankings list -- which means he would likely find himself in a massive scrap afterwards.
The winners of Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger or Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley may not be the right options, but guys like Tarec Saffiedine (provided he's healthy), Hector Lombard or even the winner of Gunnar Nelson vs. Ryan LaFlare (UFC Fight Night 46) could serve as potential suitors.
It's just a guessing game at this point, yet the South American has the ability to steal his opponent's thunder -- and post-fight plans -- if he can get the job done.
1. How close would Matt Brown be to a title shot with a victory?
Brown has not fought since August 2013, when he knocked out Mike Pyle in less than 30 seconds to dazzle the Boston crowd at UFC Fight Night 26.
It was his sixth consecutive victory, after stopping fellow welterweights Jordan Mein and Mike Swick before that.
"The Immortal" had a golden opportunity slip by him when he had to pull out of his fight against Carlos Condit at UFC on FOX 9, but he's got a chance to reinsert his name back into the title mix at 170 pounds this weekend.
The Ohio native probably won't get a title shot if he wins against Silva, yet how do we assess his immediate future? Does he get a fight against someone like the winner of Lawler vs. Ellenberger?
It would make a lot of sense.
Let's say the American finishes Silva on Saturday night, there's no point matching him up against another welterweight who's in the middle of the pack. Waiting for someone like Carlos Condit to come back from injury is a little too risky at this point, so the only viable option for Brown would be for him to face a top-five opponent.
And let's say Brown wins another fight after this one against a top ranked opponent ... is he ready for a shot at the gold?
Check out the finalized card for UFC Fight Night 40: "Brown vs. Silva" right here.