Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading back to the East Coast this Saturday (April 18, 2015) for the UFC on FOX 15 event, live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, featuring a pivotal middleweight collision between Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold.
Machida, a former middleweight No. 1 contender, looks to take out the ex-Strikeforce champ in what many consider to be a title eliminator bout, especially with Brazilian middleweight Ronaldo Souza rematching Chris Camozzi on short notice, now that Yoel Romero has withdrawn due to injury.
With a major FOX show on the horizon, MMAmania.com pondered "Five Burning Questions" heading into Saturday night.
5. With Joanne Calderwood's loss this past weekend, is Paige VanZant vs. Felice Herrig a No. 1 contender's bout?
With Claudia Gadelha withdrawing from her scheduled bout against Aisling Daly at UFC Fight Night 64, the women's strawweight division lost a potential No. 1 contender bout.
In its place, many suspected Joanne Calderwood would earn a crack at the 115-pound champ, had she defeated Maryna Moroz in Poland, but that is not the way the cookie crumbled.
Just a week later, VanZant and Herrig are set to throw down, and a big win for either woman could equal title contention.
VanZant is currently sitting at No. 10 in the division, while Herrig hosts the eighth spot.
Both women are 1-0 inside the Octagon, and while most fans would not expect records like that to earn a crack at the crown, the champ needs challengers in quick order.
With nearly everyone else in the division currently scheduled for fights down the road, "12 Gauge" and "Lil Bulldog" have a huge opportunity this weekend in Newark.
4. Aljamain Sterling: A future title contender?
For any fight fan who has religiously scouted talent over the last several years, nearly every single list compiled on the internet included the highly-touted bantamweight Aljamain Sterling.
The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships bantamweight titleholder made his Octagon debut in February 2014, putting on an impressive performance in a win over the durable Cody Gibson.
In his second outing, "The Funk Master" showed off his panache inside the Octagon, lighting up Hugo Viana for about 14 minutes before finishing the job with just about a minute left in the fight.
Sterling's meteoric rise up the rankings was halted due to an injury late last year, but the 25 year old returns to the cage against UFC veteran Takeya Mizugaki this weekend in Newark.
Training with the Serra-Longo fight team, it's clear Sterling's abilities are being maximized at every turn. If any set of coaches are to develop "The Funk Master" into a UFC champ, it will be Matt Serra and Ray Longo.
The fight this weekend will be a huge test for Sterling, and will either give credence to those who have touted his abilities for years, or see him falter in his stiffest test yet.
It's time to sink or swim!
3. Can Cub Swanson rebound from his difficult loss to Frankie Edgar, or will Max Holloway prove to be a top-five contender?
In mixed martial arts (MMA), not every fight can go your way, and sometimes you will simply be outclassed by your opponent.
In Cub Swanson's case, it was a bit of both against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. In a bout that had title implications written all over it, "Killer" Cub was outmatched in every stanza, simply getting outworked by "The Answer" over five rounds before getting finished late.
The loss snapped Swanson's six-fight winning streak, dashing his title hopes in the process.
Regardless of his last performance, Swanson is unquestionably one of the top five fighters in the featherweight division, but will he rebound in glorious fashion, or will he sink even further at the hands of Max Holloway?
Holloway finds himself in a similar situation to Swanson prior to the Edgar fight. Coming in with five straight wins, "Blessed" has the opportunity to catapult into the top five with a big win over Swanson.
Who will seize their moment, and who will crash and burn?
2. Does anyone care about Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Camozzi?
Sure, it stinks we won't get to see Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza throw down on FOX, but at least fight fans will be treated to one half of the equation.
With Chris Camozzi stepping up on just about a week's notice, you can't expect much from the TUF grad. After getting dumped by UFC brass following a four-fight losing streak, Camozzi was able to win two straight, but not against competition anywhere near the level of "Jacare."
Can Camozzi last through the first round this time and pull off the seemingly impossible upset?
Better yet, does anyone even care what happens?
Ultimately, this just seems to be a way for Souza to get a paycheck and some exposure on FOX, because there is no way he earns a title shot by beating Camozzi again.
Hopefully this fight goes by quickly, so "Jacare" can be rescheduled against a top-ranked opponent right away.
1. How well does Lyoto Machida match up with Luke Rockhold?
This weekend's main event is simply outstanding. Some would call this bout a dream fight for MMA fans, and I am in total agreement with that sentiment.
In earnest, this bout is incredibly difficult to pick. Do you choose the surging 30-year old Rockhold, or the savvy veteran in Machida?
Unless father time has quickly caught up with the former light heavyweight champion, you simply cannot count "The Dragon" out against any fighter in the 185-pound weight class.
This fight has all the makings of a "Fight of the Year" candidate, and as fight day moves closer, choosing an outright winner becomes tougher.
It's not outrageous to suggest they are carbon copies, at least until the cage door closes and one fighter makes a statement.
What storyline suits UFC brass better? The former light heavyweight champ defeating Rockhold to get a rematch with Chris Weidman (or maybe even an all-Brazilian battle against Vitor Belfort)?
Tough to say.
Or perhaps fans want to see the former Strikeforce champ continue his recent reign of dominance and put his mettle to the test against Weidman, or rematch the man who knocked him out in his UFC debut in Vitor Belfort.
Either way, this fight should be amazing, and the impact it has on the division should be just as good.
That's a wrap!
For more information on UFC on FOX 15, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.