After a brutal week in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), highlighted by Anderson Silva's failed UFC 183 drug test for steroids, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be delighted to move on to this weekend's Valentine's Day event.
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will make his welterweight debut this Saturday night (Feb. 14, 2015), as he takes on surging contender Brandon Thatch on short notice in the main event of UFC Fight Night 60 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado (results here).
In the co-main event, streaking featherweight knockout artist Max Holloway looks to earn his fifth straight Octagon victory over the notoriously durable Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Cole Miller.
While this card may not have the firepower of the events we witnessed in January, the Valentine's Day special has several noteworthy bouts that had us here at MMAmania.com pondering "Five Burning Questions" heading into Saturday.
5. Which high-profile prospect will earn a huge victory on Saturday night?
If you are a fan of watching up-and-comers inside the Octagon, then UFC Fight Night 60 is the card for you.
The event features welterweight berserker Brandon Thatch, rising featherweight Max Holloway, Kiichi Kunimoto looking to extend his winning streak against arguably the most prolific fighter of 2014 in Neil Magny, 22-year-old lightweight Kevin Lee trying to make it three straight inside the Octagon, Chas Skelly taking on Jim Alers, Levan Makashvili making his UFC debut, and RFA prospect James Moontasri returning to action.
As you can see, there are a ton of rising contenders and prospects this weekend in Colorado, and several of these men could be future title contenders down the road.
In my opinion, the man to watch out for is obviously Brandon Thatch -- but we will discuss him a bit later.
The other can't-miss fighters on Saturday night are Max Holloway, Kevin Lee, and Levan Makashvili. Holloway has earned four straight finishes, Lee is an exceptional talent with the tools to become a legitimate contender, and Makashvili is the the latest Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder to make his Octagon debut -- albeit on short notice against a seasoned veteran in Nik Lentz.
I see Holloway taking home the big victory this weekend, potentially finishing Cole Miller and earning a top-10 featherweight opponent his next time out.
4. Can Zach Makovsky or Tim Elliott secure themselves a No. 1 contender fight?
The flyweight division is running out of contenders, and fresh faces are desperately needed to feed 125-pound kingpin Demetrious Johnson.
"Mighty Mouse" has already defeated four of the top five contenders, and also holds victories over No. 6 ranked Ali Bagautinov and No. 9 ranked Chris Cariaso. While the champ has recently noted he expects to next face off against No. 8 ranked Kyoji Horiguchi, the division is wide open for a contender to make a run.
Although Makovsky and Elliott are coming off tough losses -- Elliott has dropped two in a row -- a statement win on Saturday could potentially line them both up for a No. 1 contender bout later in 2015.
With No. 1 contender John Dodson hoping to return sometime in the next few months, Makovsky or Elliott could earn a crack at "The Magician" with a victory in Colorado.
Who seizes their moment on Saturday night?
3. Will Ray Borg crack the flyweight top-15 with a win in Colorado?
Speaking of flyweights, the 21-year-old Ray Borg is certainly a rising prospect you want to keep your eyes on.
Going 1-1 in 2014 -- including a heinous decision loss to No. 12 ranked Dustin Ortiz that he deserved to win -- Borg proved he is a fighter to be reckoned with in the flyweight division.
In his last outing, Borg opted to keep the judges out of the equation, utterly dominating Shane Howell before choking him out in just over two minutes.
"The Tazmexican Devil" will take on Chris Kelades in the first bout on the FOX Sports 1 main card, and if Borg earns another finish, I would be appalled not to see him ranked come Monday afternoon.
2. Is Brandon Thatch a future title challenger?
Say you have never seen Brandon Thatch compete outside of UFC. In that case, you have only seen "Rukus" fight for about three and a half minutes of absolute domination -- finishing both Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago in vicious fashion.
It is clear Thatch has the "it" factor alongside the skill to become a legitimate threat in the 170-pound division, but we cannot pretend that the welterweight category is not stacked with tough and exciting fighters just like -- if not better than -- Thatch himself.
While I'm not ready to crown Thatch a future title challenger (yet) based solely on the fact that he has never faced any elite competition, there is clearly something special about the Colorado native.
If Thatch earns a big victory over the former lightweight champ in front of his home crowd on Saturday night, expect UFC to skyrocket him up the ladder.
Then again, it won't be an easy feat to take out Henderson.
1. Is Benson Henderson biting off more than he can chew at welterweight?
As I just previously mentioned, Brandon Thatch is an absolute wrecking machine, and for Benson Henderson to take this fight -- in a weight class above his natural weight -- is risky in my opinion.
Then again, "Smooth" has said time and again that he is down to fight anyone, anywhere, at any time, and he is holding up his side of the bargain as a "favor" for UFC brass in order to save the UFC Fight Night 60 event.
With that being said, Henderson will have a height and reach disadvantage, but he hopes to have the speed and agility advantage over the uber-athletic Thatch.
I am certainly intrigued to see how the fight plays out, but the keys to victory seem cut and dry for "Smooth" this weekend. Benson will need to pressure and smother Thatch from the opening bell in hopes of slowing down "Rukus." If Henderson can't bully Thatch, I see the Colorado native taking the center of the cage and utilizing his reach to hurt the former champ throughout the bout.
One thing is for certain: Henderson has the heart of a champion and is an exceptional fighter, but is a fight against Thatch really what he wants following two straight losses in the lightweight division?
We shall see.
For more information on UFC Fight Night 60, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.