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UFC Fight Night 55, 56 preview: Five burning questions going into Sydney and Brazil

Who doesn't love a weekend jam packed with mixed martial arts (MMA) action? Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brings fight fans yet another weekend chock full of fisticuffs, and there are a ton of storylines to ponder before hand. We here at took a gander at both UFC Fight Night 55 and 56, putting together five burning questions heading into this weekend's MMA bonanza.

Victor Fraile

Too much Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)? Well buckle up fight fans, for we are in for yet another weekend with multiple international UFC events.

This Friday (Nov. 7, 2014), UFC returns to the land down under for UFC Fight Night 55: "Bisping vs. Rockhold" streaming live on UFC Fight Pass from the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia. The card features a wealth of international talent, including several Aussies that are sure to fire up the always-raucous crowd.

On Saturday (Nov. 8), UFC takes a trip down to Uberlândia, Brazil for UFC Fight Night 56: "Shogun vs. St. Preux" live from Ginásio Municipal Tancredo Neves on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). This card features several intriguing matchups, as well as one very consequential bout in the UFC's flyweight division.

With 22 fights going down on Friday and Saturday, we detailed five burning questions heading into this weekend's events.

5. Just how good can Warlley Alves become?

Chael Sonnen is never one to mince words, but he has been caught from time to time stretching the truth and pushing the bounds of hyperbole.

So when the former No. 1 middleweight contender noted that TUF: "Brazil 3" winner Warlley Alves could contend for a UFC title right away, fans and pundits alike were rightfully skeptical. Was Sonnen simply building up a team member (like this one), or did he truly believe Alves is a force to be reckoned with?

This weekend, we will catch our first glimpse of Alves coming off his TUF victory. The 23-year old is 7-0, with five finishes to his credit, so there is no need to rush the potential superstar whatsoever.

Alves' matchup with dangerous striker and fellow prospect Alan Jouban should give us a very good idea of where he stands in the division moving forward.

4. Will Ross Pearson or Al Iaquinta break into the top 15 of the stacked lightweight division?

Breaking into UFC rankings is no easy task, especially if you weigh 155 or 170 pounds.

Former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner Ross Pearson, and TUF runner-up Al Iaquinta, find themselves in limbo this weekend as they attempt to break into the upper echelon of the lightweight division.

Iaquinta is 4-2 in his young UFC career, and training with the likes of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman is only making the New York native a better fighter by the day. Coming off an impressive technical knockout victory over Rodrigo Damm, his first finish in the Octagon, Iaquinta is taking a big step up in competition as he faces off against Pearson this weekend.

As for Pearson, the British bruiser has never looked better. Although his record is spotty at best, his decision "loss" to Diego Sanchez back in June is one of the more laughably bad decisions in recent memory. UFC moved forward as if Pearson won that fight, and rightfully so. If Pearson is able to get another stoppage victory, he will certainly find himself fighting a top 15 contender come 2015.

3. Will Ian McCall get another crack at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson with a victory over John Lineker?

Before delving into this question, another very important question will be whether or not Lineker can make the 125-pound flyweight limit. If he falters once again, he will likely never be able to fight for UFC gold.

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand. If "Uncle Creepy" earns a victory over the heavy-handed Lineker in enemy territory, how could UFC not give McCall another crack at the title? Yes, McCall has already had two chances to beat Johnson, going 0-1-1 in those bouts, but both fights were close and uber exciting, as well.

The No. 3 ranked flyweight is on a two-fight winning streak, has already begun trash talking "Mighty Mouse" and is likely the biggest test to Demetrious other than John Dodson (who is still mending a knee injury and won't return until mid-year 2015).

Lineker is one tough cookie, however, so this will certainly be no walk in the park for McCall. "Uncle Creepy" will likely have to grind out a decision to pull out the victory, but no matter how he does it, I find it hard to believe that Joe Silva or Sean Shelby would choose anyone else to fight the champion.

3. Will Michael Bisping really be able to hang with Luke Rockhold, or will he falter near the top once again?

Michael Bisping has fought for UFC for nearly nine years, and yet he has never once gotten a crack at a UFC title. Now this is not to say Bisping is a bad fighter whatsoever. In fact, Bisping is likely the best fighter in history to never even get a chance to fight for the belt.

Bisping's issue is that he continues to stumble right before reaching the apex. In roughly four "title eliminator" bouts, "The Count" has lost each and every one. To his credit, the British striker continues to brush his shoulders off, and makes the tough climb back to the top again and again.

Just seven months removed from a horrendous decision loss to Tim Kennedy, Bisping finds himself fighting the former Strikeforce middleweight champion and current fifth ranked fighter in the division. If Bisping defeats Rockhold, he could very well be one more victory away from fighting for the elusive title.

But is Bisping still the caliber of fighter who can hang with the likes of Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Lyoto Machida, and ultimately Chris Weidman?

We will find out this Friday night.

1. Can Shogun Rua thwart Ovince St. Preux's takedowns and earn a TKO finish?

This has got to be tough for the PRIDE and UFC legend Mauricio Rua.

After preparing months on end for a dangerous striker in Jimi Manuwa, Shogun was blindsided by an injury replacement in Ovince St. Preux after his British foe bowed out of the fight with a broken leg just a week prior to the event. While "OSP" is not exactly a top-notch wrestler, he certainly has the credentials to ground "Shogun" for the majority of the fight, and make it a long night for the Brazilian hero.

St. Preux's gas tank could come into question in this bout, so Rua could potentially be looking for a late TKO/KO finish. Of course, in order to get the finish, the Brazilian will need to keep his wits and wind about him.

Ultimately, this fight could actually be more intriguing on paper than the initial bout with Manuwa, but fans certainly won't be treated to the wild stand-up affair they had hoped for.

That's a wrap!

Check out the latest UFC Fight Night 55 event card and line up right here. For UFC Fight Night 56 event card and bout order click here.

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