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5 for Fighting: Intriguing storylines heading into UFC Fight Night 63

The UFC returns to the Patriot Center for the first time in three years for UFC Fight Night 63. Go inside each storyline prior to the card in Fairfax, Virginia today (Sat., April 4, 2015).

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks off a busy April when it rolls into Fairfax, Virginia for UFC Fight Night 63 today (April 4, 2015) in a rare matinee.

Anchoring the card will be a five-round battle for featherweight supremacy as former No. 1 contender's Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas faceoff. In the co-main event of the afternoon, burgeoning lightweights go to war when Jorge Masvidal draws Al Iaquinta.

Rounding out the main card are a number of noteworthy tilts including bouts featuring The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 18 winner Julianna Pena, Clay Guida and Dustin Poirier. On the "Prelims" portion of the event, Liz Carmouche and Gray Maynard take to the Octagon.

Prepare yourself for some early-afternoon fisticuffs as we run through five of the biggest storylines of this lightweight-dominated card.

Bonus honorable mention!

Gray Maynard tries to stave off fourth-straight loss against Alexander Yakovlev

Once considered to be one of the world's best lightweight fighters, 35-year-old Gray Maynard has seen father time catch up with him. Maynard has lost three-straight fights via (technical) knockout to solid competition.

The multifaceted Yakovlev will be making his first appearance at 155 pounds, which could be a good and bad thing for Maynard. Yakovlev could have more of a physical advantage -- he's 6'1 -- or, the Power MMA representative may have his way with the lightweight newcomer.

Either way, the former All-American wrestler needs to retool his approach to the fight game, or admit that he just doesn't have what it takes to compete at a high level anymore.

5. Clay Guida continues search for consistency in the 145-pound division

Guida has been on the cusp of greatness multiple times in his UFC career, but has faltered when the lights were at their brightest. Now, on the complete opposite end of the UFC totem pole, the 33-year-old attempts to get back on the winning track when he takes on the always dangerous Robbie Peralta.

Peralta has been climbing the featherweight ladder for the last four years, compiling a mediocre 3-2-(1) record. His fight with "The Carpenter" will mark his 145-pound debut. Over the last eight years as a lightweight, Peralta recorded 13 knockout victories.

Both men are capable of letting their hands go, but they also have shown the ability to fight with a more intelligent game plan at times. Guida should have the upperhand in this matchup based off of longevity in the sport.

4. Perennial featherweight contender Dustin Poirier makes the jump to lightweight

After failing to reach the top of the mountain at 145 pounds, the American Top Team fighter will join the crowded lightweight division.

Poirier will go head-to-head with jiu-jitsu ace Carlos Diego Ferreira in his 155-pound debut. A well-rounded mixed martial artist, the 26-year-old Louisiana native is confident he will be just as strong 10 pounds heavier.

At featherweight, Poirier was an equally-talented grappler as he was a striker. He submitted three Octagon foes, and put away two additional opponents via strikes.

Though he's a high-level jiu-jitsu black belt, Ferreira can also put fighters to sleep. He racked up a huge (technical) knockout win over TUF 13 runner-up Ramsey Nijem in his second UFC appearance.

Like Guida, Poirier will have a significant advantage in the experience department. If the Brazilian puts him in some precarious spots, he'll know the exact measures to alleviate pressure on chokes and how to reverse positions.

Not to mention he's familiar with the confines of the Patriot Center, having last fought in Fairfax three years prior in the 2012 Fight of the Year alongside Chan Sung-Jung. This time, he's just hoping for a different outcome.

3. Julianna Pena makes long-awaited Octagon return

"The Venezuelan Vixen" has spent the last 14 months on the shelf after her destructive run on TUF 18. During her time off, the 25-year-old Pena hasn't shied away from offering up her opinion on a certain "Rowdy" champion.

Each one of her five professional wins have ended in a finish. Pena is a handful on the mat, as well as on the feet; She's submitted three opponents and knocked out two.

The woman standing opposite her inside the Patriot Center will be stout Russian Milana Dudieva. The 25-year-old captured a split-decision win in her UFC debut in August over Elizabeth Phillips. Dudieva also owns a victory over German fighter Sheila Gaff.

Skeptics would be rightfully weary when dissecting this women's bantamweight fight and it's obvious why. Pena is returning from major reconstructive knee surgery and is facing an extremely game opponent.

One thing is for certain, though: we have an exciting women's bantamweight tussle on our hands.

2. Jorge Masvidal and Al Iaquinta fight to determine who is the lightweight division's next big thing

It's "Gamebred" versus "Raging." The pair are two of the 155-pound division's most dynamic fighters, but only one man holds true knockout power.

Iaquinta has plastered notable names like Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon in recent outings. The Serra-Longo Fight Team product is patient and an excellent counter striker. His 15 professional fights, though, pale in comparison to Masvidal's resume.

The 30-year-old has been fighting for 12 years and has competed in a laundry list of promotions. He's fought some of the top names in the world and is a striking tactician. Masvidal owns wins over KJ Noons and also went the distance with former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.

Both Masvidal and Iaquinta are on identical three-fight winning streaks and 6-1 in their last seven bouts. They also aren't keen on going to the ground, which means good things for viewers. We could be looking at a Fight of the Night candidate right here.

1. Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas wage war to determine who will remain second fiddle to Jose Aldo

Or will it be Conor McGregor after the brash Irishman challenges Aldo for the featherweight strap at UFC 189 in July? Regardless, the aforementioned Mendes and Lamas have had their chances at gold and failed to seize their moment.

These two featherweights are very similar in that they're both high-caliber wrestlers. Both were All-Americans at their respective universities and have utilized their grappling ability to neutralize many a opponent. Except Mendes has proven to be the more active wrestler in mixed martial arts (MMA).

The 29-year-old has defended 100 percent of the takedowns coming his way and has landed four takedowns on average per fight in his UFC career. Mendes' hands have also come a long way too.

Lamas' wrestling ability doesn't seem all that impressive based simply off of numbers. Nonetheless, he is a balanced fighter, who's capable of holding his ground wherever the fight takes him. The 32-year-old can find the finish standing up or with a choke.

Lamas last dismissed Dennis Bermudez via guillotine choke in the first round of their tilt at UFC 180. Mendes will be hard-pressed to falter now, given his unblemished record in non-title fights, but Lamas is certainly nothing to sneeze at. I'm sensing a 25-minute, back-and-forth battle.

That's a wrap! will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 63 fight card, starting with the FOX Sports 1-televised prelims at 11 a.m. ET, and on through the FOX Sports 1 main card slated to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

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