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UFC 179 preview: Five Burning Questions going into 'Aldo vs. Mendes' in Brazil

After a three-week hiatus, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the spotlight with an enticing pay-per-view (PPV) event in UFC 179 this weekend (Sat., Oct. 25, 2014). As with every mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card, the event brings with it a bevy of possible scenarios, outcomes, and questions heading in that builds anticipation unlike anything else. We here at poured over the UFC 179 fight card, and put together five burning questions heading into this weekend's PPV event.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns in grand fashion this weekend (Sat., Oct. 25, 2014) with the UFC 179 pay-per-view (PPV) event taking place at Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While this card may not be nearly as stacked as UFC 178 this past September, fans are still clamoring to get their mixed martial arts (MMA) fix after the promotion's three-week sabbatical.

Headlining the event in Brazil is a title rematch from 2012 featuring two of UFC's most exciting fighters. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo looks to defend his title for the seventh time as he takes on the streaking Team Alpha Male product Chad Mendes.

In the co-main event, two light heavyweight berserkers set out to prove they are worthy of a UFC title shot as Glover Teixeira welcomes Phil Davis to Brazil. With the division being eerily thin on challengers, a big win for either man this weekend could pay huge dividends in the coming months.

The rest of the card is scattered with intriguing match ups, featuring a throng of Brazilian talent and prospects galore. While there are few bouts as consequential as the two aforementioned fights, this card has the opportunity to provide a copious amount of violence, action, and highlight-reel finishes.

Without further ado, here are "Five Burning Questions" heading into the Brazil PPV event this weekend.

5. Can Carlos Diego Ferreira continue his hot streak and potentially become a contender in the lightweight division?

UFC’s most stacked division may in fact be the 155-pound weight class. With a bevy of perennial contenders vying for their shot at the title next, a healthy stable of fresh contenders are rising up the ranks ready to prove their worth among the division’s elite.

One of the "new blood" contenders is Carlos Diego Ferreira, who has looked absolutely unstoppable in his first two UFC bouts, dispatching of Colton Smith and Ramsey Nijem in spectacular fashion. While Nijem and Smith are certainly not world-beaters, they are no cans either, and Ferreira’s start to his UFC career could not have been any better.

Taking this fight on short notice, Ferreira will face a stiff test in fellow young contender Beneil Dariush. This fight has the opportunity to showcase two up and coming lightweights, and could provide a future title challenger down the line.

With Ferriera coming into this bout at 29 years old, he needs to stay active in order to move up the lightweight ladder. If he finishes Dariush on Saturday, he could find himself fighting someone in the top 15 early on in the new year.

4. Will Phil Davis prove to be a title contender?

Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis has done a lot of trash talking to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones, but if he ever wants a crack at UFC gold, he needs to get by former title challenger Glover Teixeira in Brazil on Saturday night.

Looking at his UFC career, "Mr. Wonderful" provided some marquee victories, but stumbled on the big stage many a times. With victories over Alexander Gustafsson and Lyoto Machida, one would think Davis would have gotten a title shot long ago, but that opportunity has failed to develop.

Davis is somewhat comparable to Michael Bisping by the fact that both men have come close to the pinnacle multiple times, but faltered just before knocking on the door for a title shot.

Davis has only lost twice in his UFC career, but both losses proved to be major setbacks for the former NCAA wrestling champion. Former UFC champion Rashad Evans handily defeated Davis in a No. 1 contender bout back in 2012, and this past April, Anthony Johnson derailed his three fight winning streak, essentially cutting Davis out of the title picture in the process.

If Davis ever plans to fight for the UFC belt, he must defeat Glover Teixeira on Saturday night.

3. Can Chad Mendes learn from his previous mistakes en route to winning his rematch with Jose Aldo?

Chad "Money" Mendes has worked his tail off to get a rematch with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and with five straight victories going into UFC 179 this weekend, Mendes is more than deserving of his shot at redemption.

Back at UFC 142, an 11-0 Mendes took his third UFC bout in enemy territory against the dominant champion. With his striking skills not fully developed yet, Mendes furiously attempted to get the Brazilian on the mat. Unfortunately for Mendes, his bread and butter failed him time and again as Aldo proved to be too elusive (with the help of a few cage grabs). Ultimately, Mendes' futile attempts to ground Aldo led to the finishing sequence in which the champion kneed "Money" into unconscious oblivion.

Since that fateful evening, Mendes has improved tenfold. His striking is among the best in the division thanks in large part to his striking coach Duane Ludwig, and his wrestling is as good as it has ever been.

If Mendes hopes to win this fight, he must learn from his prior mistakes and mix up his striking and wrestling fluidly throughout. Mendes must know that Aldo will stuff some takedowns, and he will be forced to exchange with the champion at some points in the fight.

Fight I.Q. is critical for Mendes on Saturday night, so will he have learned from his past mistakes and be able to take the title back to Sacramento? Or will he fall victim to Aldo yet again? We'll find out in just a few days.

2. Will UFC’s three-week hiatus result in big time PPV buys?

MMA fans have been complaining for quite some time regarding UFC’s far too busy and hectic schedule. Besides for watered-down cards, the unrelenting onslaught of events makes the sport feel somewhat mundane.

Even worse, with the plethora of free events throughout the year, why would a casual viewer buy a $55 PPV when they could watch a free event the following week?

With so many events back to back, enticing storylines and anticipation fall to the wayside. For a PPV, that could spell disaster in terms of buys, due to the fact that the promotion has failed to garner any excitement or interest amongst casual MMA fans.

UFC 179 will be the second UFC event of the month, and the only PPV in October. Could the three week break in action pay big dividends as the hype and anticipation has been building for nearly 21 days? We will find out in a few weeks when the PPV numbers are revealed.

1. Will Brazil lose yet another champion?

Over the past several years, Brazil has lost multiple UFC champions as the Americans have slowly taken a stranglehold on UFC gold. Currently, eight of the nine UFC champions are Americans, with the lone Brazilian being featherweight champion Jose Aldo.

In 2012, Junior dos Santos lost his heavyweight title to current champion Cain Velasquez. In 2013, Anderson Silva finally gave up his middleweight title after a seven year run to current champion Chris Weidman. In 2014, Renan Barao was the victim of the year’s biggest upset as TJ Dillashaw captured the bantamweight title this past May.

Now another American, Chad Mendes, is looking to make it a clean sweep for the United States as UFC champions. This won’t be easy, however, as the Team Alpha Male product makes a trip down to Brazil in an attempt to seize the country’s very last title.

Can Mendes pull it off in the rematch, or will Aldo remain the champion in his native country of Brazil?

That's a wrap!

For all the latest UFC 179: "Aldo vs Mendes" news, information, updated fight card, and more click here.

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