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UFC Fight Night 37 preview: 'Five Burning Questions' heading into 'Gustafsson vs Manuwa' in London

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.


If you aren't signed up for "Fight Pass" yet, you may want to consider doing so before this weekend.

UFC Fight Night 37: "Gustafsson vs. Manuwa" takes place at O2 Arena in London, England, this Saturday (March 8, 2014) and all eyes will be on the showcased light heavyweight affair. The entire event will be broadcast online through the promotion's new digital network.

Alexander Gustafsson can earn his title rematch against Jon Jones if he can beat local fighter Jimi Manuwa in the main event. This will be the Swede's first bout since his breathtaking performance in a loss against "Bones" back at UFC 165 in Toronto.

Here are the "Five Burning Questions" heading into the fights in England this weekend:

5. How will Brad Pickett look in the flyweight division?

Brad Pickett was supposed to face Ian McCall on the main card; however the latter had to pull out of the bout with an injury. With promotional newcomer Neil Seery slated to face Pickett this weekend, the 35-year-old is already well into the latter half of his career and we'll see if he can adjust to the speed of 125 pounds.

Will he still be able to pack a heavy punch with all that weight drained?

Pickett probably earned his nickname early on in his career, since he garnered six knockout/technical knockout victories before joining World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).

Does it seem odd to anyone else that Pickett's nickname is "One Punch," yet he's only finished one fight in five years by way of strikes? He also has one "Knockout of The Night" bonus during his time with both UFC and WEC.

He's a slugger, no doubt about it, but we're dealing with a little bit of false advertising here.

4. How high can Gunnar Nelson's stock rise with a win?

Brazilian legend Renzo Gracie said that Gunnar Nelson will clean out his entire division and become a champion. He has plenty of work cut out for him, but is there any truth to that comment?

We know how highly the promotion thinks of Conor McGregor and Nelson's stock could rise in a similar way.

His fighting style is entertaining, his stances are refreshing and he hasn't faced any problems thus far in UFC. His two wins were over two experienced fighters in Jorge Santiago and DaMarques Johnson, and it just seems like Nelson will start dropping jaws once he is put on the proper platform for everyone to see.

It's not like Omari Akhmedov is being pitted against Nelson to pat the Icelander's record, either. The Russian comes out swinging and it's going to be a tough test for both combatants. Plus, Akhmedov would like nothing more for these write-ups to be about him in the future, so look for the Dagestani to try to steal Nelson's thunder.

3. Is there any chance Michael Johnson vs. Melvin Guillard goes to a decision?

"The Young Assassin" has got to be the most unpredictable fighter in the lightweight division. You can't tell if he's going to put someone's lights out, or if he's going to be the deer caught in the headlights.

Michael Johnson has upset some stiff competition, like Joe Lauzon and Danny Castillo; however, he sometimes loses to competitors that he should dispose of quite easily, so he's almost just as unpredictable.

Both co-main event fighters and former training partners are not really far apart when it comes to their respective standings in the packed house of lightweights and it would be in each of their best interests to come out headhunting in order to gain some momentum over the rest of the pack.

There's simply too much dynamite between these two for it to go a full three rounds and we're probably not going to see a wrestling or jiu-jitsu exhibition, either. We can expect an explosive meeting between these two violent combatants.

2. Is this the first true test for Fight Pass?

Unless you canceled your free trial prior to March 1, you're now getting charged $10 a month to watch fight cards from overseas or relics like WEC 4: "Rumble Under The Sun."

Dong Hyun Kim gave us a reason to dish out some pocket change once a month last weekend; however, what percentage of fight fans are waking up at the rooster's yelp to see this stuff, anyway?

We're never going to know exactly what the sign-up numbers are or how much money UFC has made to date with its online subscription service.

As for UFC Fight Night 37, it's a pretty big event and you can only watch it on Fight Pass this upcoming Saturday. This new approach could be a huge success; however, it needs a bit of adjustment for it to be a major success.

Instead of an extensive library filled with event replays and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) seasons, UFC could really create a buzz by putting every single future "Fight Night" event online. Although there are broadcast deals with FOX Sports 1 in place for those, they should fill up our plates with more food here. Why not put a numbered event online once or twice a year?

We could come up with suggestions all we want; however, it's out of our hands. For now, international fight cards at odd hours of the day should suffice.

1. Was Jimi Manuwa put into the main event to lose against Alexander Gustafsson?

Not to say that Jimi Manuwa is a bad or mediocre fighter, he's just not a proven one. His UFC wins were cut short due to calls from the doctor or injury, so we haven't seen everything this beast has to offer.

"The Mauler" is getting a title shot with a win and that's more or less set in stone. If Manuwa wins, he shakes up the division with his massive upset, yet he simply paves the way for someone like Daniel Cormier or Phil Davis (who needs to beat Anthony Johnson first) to earn a title shot.

He's doing the dirty work for someone else if he gets his hand raised and that's rather unfortunate for the Englishman. After all, there weren't many options to consider for this main event after Antonio Rogerio Nogueira suffered an injury.

Therefore, was he inserted into the bout as bait against Gustafsson, so the promotion could set up their anticipated rematch between "Gusty" and Jones?

Manuwa is undefeated (14-0) without ever needing to leave it in the judges' hands. He's not a layabout, but this is his chance to show us he truly deserves to be the "Poster Boy" he says he is and get the huge win that essentially brings him back to square one.

Weird, huh?

What do you think Maniacs?

For the latest UFC Fight Night 37: "Gustafsson vs. Manuwa" fight card and line up click here.

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