After an outstanding UFC 181 event this past weekend, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has put together yet another stacked event for fight fans to savor prior to the culmination of 2014. Featuring big name fighters such as Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, and Nate Diaz, UFC on FOX 13 is as stacked an event you will see on network television.
UFC on FOX 13 will go down live from Phoenix, Arizona, this Saturday (Dec. 13, 2014) featuring the top five heavyweight collision between former champion Junior Dos Santos, and rising contender Stipe Miocic. With UFC's 265-pound division nearly barren of challengers, Miocic or Dos Santos could earn a title shot with a big victory this weekend.
But that's not all.
Former lightweight title contender and fan favorite Nate Diaz returns to the Octagon after a year long layoff that saw him complain about fighter pay, butt heads with UFC brass, and apparently turn down fights against top contenders. Ultimately, Diaz and UFC worked out their issues -- at least somewhat -- in order to have the former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner take on No. 3 ranked Rafael Dos Anjos in the evening's co-main event.
With UFC on FOX 13 stacked with consequential match ups that could radically change the landscape in multiple divisions, MMAmania.com pondered "Five Burning Questions" heading into this weekend.
5. Will either Rafael Dos Anjos or Nate Diaz leapfrog Khabib Nurmagomedov for a lightweight title shot with a win Saturday?
There is absolutely no doubt about it, Khabib Nurmagomedov has earned a UFC title shot against Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, but will UFC comply?
"The Eagle" is currently undefeated at 22-0, including six dominant UFC victories -- and a decision victory over Rafael Dos Anjos this past April. Even with his impressive resume, UFC has been non-committal about giving the Russian Sambo champion his title fight.
The reasoning for this is either A) UFC wants a bigger name to fight Pettis in order to sell pay-per-views (PPV), or B) UFC wants Nurmagomedov to fight at least once more after returning from knee surgery.
Either way, the opportunity is there for Nate Diaz or Rafael Dos Anjos to steal the title shot from under Nurmagomedov with a dominant victory this Saturday night.
Since his drubbing against "The Eagle", "RDA" has won two straight via (technical) knockouts. His last performance was easily the best of his career, as he finished the former lightweight champion Benson Henderson in under three minutes. With MMA being a "what have you done for me lately" sport, Dos Anjos could find himself fighting for the title if he beats Diaz impressively this weekend.
As for Diaz, UFC brass can say he is not a "needle mover" all they like, but there is a reason his return is going to be broadcast on national television as the night's co-main event. Fans love Diaz for his persona in and outside the Octagon, as well as his sensational fighting style, and if he is in a PPV, UFC fans are buying.
No matter his recent wins or losses, either Diaz brother is basically just one victory away from a UFC title shot at any moment. If Diaz puts on a career performance against Dos Anjos this weekend, it will be tough for UFC to pass up a chance to have him fight "Showtime" for the title in 2015.
4. Can Matt Mitrione prove to be a legitimate contender in the heavyweight division?
The heavyweight division in UFC is in desperate need of contenders. When Frank Mir, who has lost four straight fights, is ranked at No. 13, you realize just how thin the division truly is.
This means there are a ton of opportunities available for any mid-tier fighter in the heavyweight division to make some serious noise en route to a possible UFC title shot, so could Matt Mitrione be that guy?
Mitrione has come a long way since his days on TUF, and every single one of his professional fights have been inside the Octagon. "Meathead" currently sits at No. 14 in the rankings, but a victory over Gabriel Gonzaga this weekend could skyrocket him up the division ladder.
If Mitrione is able to win his third straight via knockout, we could see the former football standout fighting a top-five opponent next.
3. Can Alistair Overeem avoid being cut by UFC?
My oh my, how the mighty have fallen.
Alistair Overeem was easily the most high-profile signing in UFC in quite some time when the heavyweight behemoth was brought over from Strikeforce, and just a few years later, Overeem could find himself without a job if he loses on Saturday night.
Prior to his Octagon debut, Overeem took a boring decision over Fabricio Werdum in a now forgettable fight. Three years later and Werdum is the interim UFC heavyweight champion, while Overeem is fighting for his job.
After dismantling Brock Lesnar in his UFC debut, Overeem was popped for an elevated T/E ratio in his pre-fight drug test for his title fight against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146, and it all went downhill from there.
After Overeem was granted a license to compete, he was the victim of the biggest upset of the year when Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva knocked out Overeem at UFC 156. With his title hopes dashed, Overeem took on rising contender Travis Browne, and was finished for the second fight in a row in violent fashion.
After an unceremonious victory over Frank Mir, Overeem was knocked out by Ben Rothwell this past September in a fight tailor-made for the heavyweight berserker to win. In fact, Overeem still believes he should have defeated Rothwell that fateful evening.
If Overeem loses on Saturday night to the returning Stefan Struve, it will more than likely mark the end of his dubious UFC career, and could be the end of his MMA career altogether.
2. Will Claudia Gadelha cement herself as the No. 1 contender in the brand new Women's strawweight division?
On Friday night, UFC will crown its first ever women's strawweight champion, and on Saturday night, they could potentially have their first No. 1 contender.
Claudia Gadelha did not make it onto the cast of TUF 20, but that has not stopped her from making noise outside of the reality series. In her UFC debut, Gadelha put in a stellar performance, dominating Tina Lahdemaki en route to a unanimous decision victory.
With Gadelha being the former No. 1 contender in Invicta, a second win inside the Octagon should garner her a title shot. Will she fold under pressure, or will she dominate Joanna Jędrzejczyk in order to fight for UFC gold? We find out this weekend.
1. Can Junior Dos Santos return to championship-level form, and will he ever get another crack at UFC gold?
The former heavyweight champion is finally set to return.
After a 14 month layoff, Junior Dos Santos will step back into the Octagon to face off against No. 4 ranked Stipe Miocic.
Dos Santos has not fought since his hellacious beating at the hands of UFC champion Cain Velasquez in their trilogy bout last October. Even after such a brutal loss, "Cigano" is confident in his abilities to return to his championship glory.
Before he gets too ahead of himself, Dos Santos has a stiff test ahead of him in Miocic this Saturday, and looking past the Ohio native would be a grave mistake.
Dos Santos has only tasted defeat twice in the Octagon, both times against Cain Velasquez. In 10 other UFC bouts, Dos Santos has defeated top contender after contender, including violent knockouts over current interim champion Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez, Frank Mir, Gabriel Gonzaga, Mark Hunt, and more.
If "Cigano" earns another knockout victory Saturday night, could we see him fight for UFC gold once more in 2015 after Velasquez and Werdum settle the score?
That's a wrap!
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