UFC 175 preview: Five burning questions going into 'Weidman vs. Machida' in Las Vegas

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Before every fight card, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans toggle between possible scenarios and what to expect days before it all unfolds in front of their eyes. Probable outcomes, distinguishable facts and head-scratching theories are all part of the mystique that surrounds the fights on any given night. We ask ourselves the same questions … and try to uncover different answers.

The memory remains.

UFC 175: "Weidman vs. Machida" takes place this weekend (Sat., July 5, 2014), invading Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, for International Fight Week over Fourth of July Weekend.

In the main event, Chris Weidman defends his middleweight title for the second time against former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. The "All American" is currently 11-0 in his career, while the "Dragon" has only lost once in his past five contests.

Ronda Rousey defends her UFC women's bantamweight championship against Alexis Davis in the co-main event, and the challenger hasn't lost in over two years while stringing together five wins in a row. "Rowdy" has never gone to a decision, finishing nine fights over the course of three years.

Also on the card, Stefan Struve battles Matt Mitrione and Urijah Faber takes on Alex Caceres.

With several interesting storylines emerging from this card, check out our "Five Burning Questions" heading into these fights in "Sin City:"

5. Did this card lose its mystique over the past couple of months?

Take a few seconds to think about what this card had a few months back:

Chris Weidman vs. Vitor BelfortDaniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson, and Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva.

Plus, the women's bantamweight championship was always going to be a part of the plans, no matter what.

Then, it all went downhill from there.

Cormier's battle against Henderson was moved to UFC 173, and when Belfort was pulled from the card after his failed drug test, Machida was slotted in.

Then, "The Axe Murderer" completely crapped the bed by no showing a pre-fight drug test, after going through a whole season as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter: "Brazil 3". Matters got worse when Belfort was pitted against Sonnen, since the latter failed a random pre-fight drug test, and then failed a second one earlier this week.

To top it all off, this card isn't all that dandy apart from three or four big fights.

Not to be that guy, but how does it look when the world's biggest MMA promotion is plagued by three men who had to bow out of their fights because of drugs heading into one of the most-watched events of the year?

Not good.

4. Why is Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres on the preliminary card?

So, after what we just discussed, it comes to my attention that "The California Kid" will be duking it out against "Bruce Leeroy" on the "Prelims."

Why?

Since this card has suffered a massive cancellation, you'd think the brass would put one of the organization's biggest stars on the main card to boost the interest. Instead, we're treated to Uriah Hall vs. Thiago Santos (yes, the same Hall who was criticized by the boss multiple times) and Marcus Brimage vs. Russell Doane.

Faber is coming off a loss to Renan Barao at UFC 169, but Caceres is coming off arguably the biggest win of his career against Sergio Pettis at UFC on FOX 10.

Maybe they wanted to use Faber vs. Caceres as an appetizer for those who are thinking about ordering the PPV, but quite frankly, you don't put a guy who had three title fights in your organization and was the face of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) on the undercard.

FOX must have been flexing some of that muscle.

3. How will Stefan Struve look after his major health issues?

Talk about heart.

Struve hasn't competed since March 2013, suffering from a leaky aortic valve and an enlarged heart.

He's making his comeback against Matt Mitrione, who apparently made this bout personal by asking Joe Silva for a fight against "Skyscraper" before he was even cleared to compete.

This is also a guy who had his jaw shattered by Mark Hunt the last time he fought.

It's unclear how Struve will perform, and whether or not this injury will be a factor in his return bout. But if there's anything we know for sure, it's that Struve is one tough son of a you-know-what, and athletes like him are the real champions, regardless of titles.

2. Is Alexis Davis really the toughest test of Ronda Rousey's career?

The current champion said Davis was the toughest test of her career thus far in some pre-fight interviews, and the organization will probably tell you the same in the upcoming days.

However, as good as Davis is, does she have better wrestling than Sara McMann, or better striking than Sara Kaufman, someone she's already lost to twice?

I'll even go out on a limb and say Miesha Tate is a better grappler than the challenger.

Whether this is a marketing ploy or Rousey's sincere thoughts, Davis isn't the chosen one by any means. It's possible she gets the job done and upsets "Rowdy," but it's not likely. If there's one thing Davis does have, it's the striking advantage (along with the champion's respect).

Then again, we already saw what happened the last time Rousey entered the cage.

1. Is Lyoto Machida the one to defeat Chris Weidman?

Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, has the chance to slot himself into the small group of fighters who have won titles in multiple weight classes. He was more or less summoned in the main event by default, but that doesn't mean he won't stand a chance against the best middleweight on the planet right now.

Although the "All American" is favored, this contest should be closer than some think. Call him boring at your own will, yet the "Dragon" has an interesting style for anyone to overmatch, and something tells me the competitor who is the better counter striker will be successful in this contest.

That said, 10 men have fallen against the champion in his career, including former middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva (yes, those losses were legit).

Whether or not Belfort would have been a stiffer challenge for the New Yorker in unknown, but Machida has proven in the past that he can't be taken lightly, and although he's not exactly the puzzle that cannot be solved anymore, he's quite possibly the most dangerous competitor at 185 pounds.

So, can he do it?

Check out the complete UFC 175: "Weidman vs. Machida" fight card, including bout order and set times, right here.

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