While January may have turned out to be a poor month for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), with far too many high-profile drug test failures, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were still treated to several outstanding events, including two stacked pay-per-view (PPV) cards.
Now UFC brass will close out February with a battered PPV show featuring the women's bantamweight title fight between Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano. This event will be "Rowdy's" first headlining feature since her UFC 170 title defense over Sara McMann last February.
In an unprecedented move, the co-main event will also feature a women's bantamweight bout, as former boxing champion Holly Holm makes her long-anticipated UFC debut against the dangerous Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Raquel Pennington.
UFC 184 goes down this Saturday night (Feb. 28, 2015) on PPV live from inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. With the women's bantamweight division highlighted on a major PPV card, MMAmania.com pondered "Five Burning Questions" heading into this weekend.
5. Can UFC 184 be a PPV success, or is the women's bantamweight division not suited to headline UFC cards?
UFC President Dana White can boast all he wants about Ronda Rousey being a bona fide MMA star, but the fact is, she has only been tested in a small PPV sample size.
In four Octagon bouts, Rousey has only headlined two PPV events, and neither could be considered a smashing success. Sure, "Rowdy's" debut at UFC 157 against Liz Carmouche brought in a solid 450,000 buys, but that event had the allure of the first-ever women's fight inside the Octagon.
Her second opportunity to headline an event?
UFC 170 against Sara McMann -- a decent overall PPV that brought in around 350,000 buys.
The other two Rousey title defenses were co-main events to UFC 168 and UFC 175, both of which did very well in terms of buys at 1,025,000 and 545,000, respectively.
In case you didn't know, Rousey's highly-anticipated fight against Zingano was once again slated to be the co-main event (see a pattern here...) for UFC 184 before UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman bowed out of his title fight against Vitor Belfort with an injury.
With UFC 184 being anchored by two women's bouts, it will be very interesting to see how Rousey's drawing power reflects the PPV buys for this coming weekend.
It is time to sink or swim for one of UFC's biggest stars.
4. Does Josh Koscheck or Jake Ellenberger have anything left in the tank?
Just how thin is UFC 184? Well, the welterweight bout between Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger pits two fighters past their primes on a combined six-fight losing streak on the main card!
In what will likely be a "win or lose your job" fight, it will be interesting to see if any former glimpses of brilliance from either man show up on fight night. In their most recent performances, both men looked either gun-shy or simply outmatched by better fighters.
Can Koscheck return to his dominant wrestling ways? Can Ellenberger uncork another bomb leading to a vicious knockout?
Let's just hope that we are treated to an exciting fight where both men fight as if their backs are against the wall.
3. Is Tony Ferguson ready to fight the elite lightweights in UFC?
Tony Ferguson is one of the most exciting fighters in UFC today, and it was a brilliant move by UFC brass to put "El Cucuy" as the opening fight on the main card for UFC 184.
The TUF season 13 champ has looked outstanding inside the Octagon, boasting a 7-1 record, with his only loss coming against a very tough Michael Johnson via decision.
The California native is currently riding a four fight winning streak -- including three finishes -- and he has earned a fight against UFC mainstay Gleison Tibau in his own backyard.
Tibau has won a million or so lightweight fights (estimate), but he has proven to be arguably the most durable gatekeeper in UFC history. The Brazilian -- who is riding a three-fight winning streak of his own -- holds victories over Norman Parke, Pat Healy, Jamie Varner, and many more, while he has lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Michael Johnson, and Jim Miller.
Tibau is the absolute perfect test for "El Cucuy," and if he passes with flying colors this weekend, a top-10 bout could be on the horizon for the TUF champ.
2. Is Holly Holm a legitimate contender?
Holly Holm is one of the most decorated female boxers in history with an innumerable amount of accolades from her years inside the ring.
With her transition to MMA, she has done the right thing to go ahead and train with the very best at Greg Jackson's camp, and while she has a very impressive list of fighters who expect her to perform exceptionally well inside the Octagon, Holm has yet to fight anyone of caliber in her first seven MMA bouts.
While I won't jump to conclusions until I witness Holm taking on Raquel Pennington this weekend, I just don't see how she could possibly challenge Rousey at this point in her career.
With age not on her side at 33 years old, and almost 40 professional fights already in the bag, Holm needs everything to fall in place just perfectly before she even considers getting a crack at Rousey.
If "The Preacher's Daughter" runs through Pennington this weekend, and Cris Cyborg is unavailable to fight Rousey next, I would expect UFC to throw her right into the fire against the women's bantamweight champion, but there is no way I am picking against "Rowdy."
Simply put, everyone in women's MMA today is just a step behind the bantamweight champion, and a former boxing world titleholder is not going to be the hellacious grappler necessary to give Rousey fits inside the cage.
1. Can Cat Zingano really defeat Ronda Rousey?
Dana White will have you believe that Cat Zingano is the stiffest test of Ronda Rousey's MMA career, but is that truly the case?
Sure, "Rowdy" utterly dominated Sara McMann at UFC 170, but their is no question that on paper, the former Olympic wrestler was Rousey's toughest test. McMann was the only woman who had anywhere near the grappling credentials Rousey has when she steps into the cage, and Ronda made it look easy against the silver medalist.
While Zingano has the heart of a lioness and the grit and determination necessary to beat anyone in the world, she is sorely outmatched against the women's bantamweight champion. "Alpha" is certainly the most dangerous striker Rousey has ever faced, but the champ's judo will determine where this fight takes place, and that will have her winning every step of the way.
Watching Zingano's past fights, her best work comes in the clinch, which just so happens to be the danger zone against the judoka in Rousey. If you clinch with "Rowdy," you are going for a ride.
Just ask Alexis Davis or Miesha Tate.
While I'd love to see Zingano and Rousey exchange, the champ is too smart to risk long periods on her feet against the Muay Thai specialist.
I don't see how Zingano wins this weekend, as she is going to have to finish Rousey to leave Los Angeles with the belt.
That's a wrap!
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