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UFC 188 preview: Five burning questions for 'Velasquez vs. Werdum' PPV in Mexico

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) platform this Saturday night (June 13, 2015) with an enticing UFC 188 fight card, featuring the heavyweight title unification bout in the main event. We here at took a gander at the PPV show, and put together five burning questions heading into this weekend.

Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market this weekend (Sat., June 13, 2015) with the long awaited return of Cain Velasquez as he is set to unify the UFC heavyweight championship belts against interim titleholder Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC 188, set to go down at the Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.

The co-main event will feature a lightweight battle mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have waited years to see, as former Strikeforce 155-pound kingpin Gilbert Melendez takes on ex-Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez.

With an intriguing PPV just days away, pondered "Five Burning Questions" heading into Saturday night.

5. Is Albert Tumenov a future title contender?

This is a very tough question to answer for many reasons.

The most prominent reason is that Tumenov has not faced a single ranked fighter yet, and the welterweight division is among the most stacked in MMA.

To make matters worse, the 23-year old has hardly progressed -- in terms of competition -- during his UFC career. After losing a very close split decision to Ildemar Alcantara in his Octagon debut, the Russian knocked out Anthony Lapsley and Matt Dwyer before earning a decision over Nico Musoke.

None of those victories will send alarm to the top-15 ranked fighters at 170 pounds, but for those that have studied Tumenov's tape, there is clear indications that this man has a violent penchant for finishing fights, and has all the skills to be a legit contender in the UFC.

Based on odds alone, I would say Tumenov won't fight for a UFC title in the next two years, but I can't rule out that he won't eventually challenge for the belt.

Unfortunately, fight fans still won't have a measuring stick for the striking aficionado this weekend, as he will take on late notice replacement Andrew Todhunter.

Hopefully a victory for the Russian will give him a crack at a savvy veteran that will test his skills next time out.

4. Does Henry Cejudo get a title shot with a victory at UFC 188, or does he have to get through Joseph Benavidez first?

While I would love to see Henry Cejudo fight Demetrious Johnson at some point, I personally believe the Olympian is improving leaps and bounds between each Octagon appearance, so what is the rush to throw him into title contention right now?

The 125-pound division is one of the more intriguing in all of MMA. "Mighty Mouse" has essentially cleaned house when it comes to all the scrappy veterans at the top of the heap, but with a huge stable of up-and-comers rising through the ranks, plenty of contenders are being thrown to the wolves -- or in this case the mouse -- far too early.

I don't want to see "The Messenger" fighting Johnson before he is ready, because Cejudo may truly be one of the few fighters who can cause Johnson issues once his MMA talents are fully developed.

Of course, the Olympic gold medalist needs to get by Chico Camus this weekend before we can even begin to discuss a potential title shot.

If he indeed is able to get by "King" this weekend, I want to see Cejudo throw down with Joseph Benavidez for his first major test against quality competition.

3. Should Kelvin Gastelum really be competing at 185 pounds?


But unfortunately Gastelum put UFC in a tough position by missing weight in two of his last three welterweight bouts.

Dana White forced The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner to move to middleweight after weighing in 10 pounds over the welterweight limit against Tyron Woodley this past January, and he was well within his rights to do so.

Luckily for Gastelum, UFC gave him a relatively washed up Nate Marquardt, who himself once competed at welterweight, so there shouldn't be too much of a size discrepancy.

The former Strikeforce champ has lost four of his last five bouts, and it isn't hard to realize that this fight was tailor made for Gastelum to pick up a name victory over deteriorating competition.

I truly believe Gastelum is a top-10 welterweight, but I doubt he can accomplish the same feat at 185 pounds.

The Arizona native needs a strong performance in Mexico on Saturday, and then he needs to find a way to cut to 170 pounds like a professional.

If he can't, he is going to have to bulk up big time to throw down with the elite of the elite in the middleweight division.

2. Could Gilbert Melendez vs Eddie Alvarez be "fight of the year?"

I find it disturbing how little hype there is around this monumental lightweight fight.

Of course, it's difficult for fight fans to get excited over every single bout when you have eight straight weekends of events, not to mention the heavyweight champion of the world is returning in the main event in Mexico.

But still, this is Melendez vs. Alvarez we are talking about!

Before Strikeforce folded into UFC, and long before Eddie Alvarez was even a blip on the UFC radar, fight fans fantasized about the two former champions facing off in what would have to be an absolute barnburner.

While we may be getting the fight several years after we had first hoped, this is not some ho-hum affair to squabble over.

This is a real fight, ladies and gentleman!

In fact, this is my pick for "Fight of the Night" and potentially fight of the year when it is all said and done.

Alvarez and Melendez have made careers out of nonstop action fights, putting on shows for fans while often times putting themselves in danger in the process.

Melendez's fights in Strikeforce were jaw-dropping, and let's not even get started on the legendary slugfest he had with Diego Sanchez. As for Alvarez, his wars with Michael Chandler are among the best fights in MMA history, period.

There is a lot on the line for both men on Saturday night, and I personally cannot wait to see these two warriors lay it all on the line once again for our enjoyment.

I just wish it was five rounds!

1. Is Cain Velasquez the greatest heavyweight of all time with a victory on Saturday night?

According to MMA math, yes!

You see, the consensus greatest heavyweight of all time is Fedor Emelianenko, and interim UFC champ Fabricio Werdum is the only person in history to submit "The Last Emperor."

That must mean a victory for Velasquez this weekend earns him the coveted GOAT spot as a heavyweight, but I personally do not agree with that assessment.

Besides for how silly MMA math can be at times, the reality is that Velasquez can't be deemed the greatest.


Is the UFC champ well on his way? Absolutely.

Dominating Junior Dos Santos in two out of three fights in nothing to scoff at, and handing losses to Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, Antonio Silva, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and more is quite impressive, as well.

The issue does not lie within Velasquez's abilities inside the Octagon. Once the champ is inside the cage, it is hard to find any weaknesses for the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product.

If Velasquez opted to retire following this weekend -- speaking in pure hyperbole here -- he would not end his career as the greatest heavyweight of all time, simply due to his injury woes.

The UFC champ has fought all but two of his professional MMA fights inside the Octagon, but since 2008, Cain has fought only 12 times. On average, Velasquez has fought about 1.5 times per year.


Since winning the title in 2010, Cain has fought five times, including a knockout loss to Junior dos Santos, and a title eliminator victory over "Bigfoot" to earn his crack at gold once more.

Since he won the belt back from "JDS," Velasquez's career arc has been essentially nothing but injuriesinjuries, and more injuries.

If Cain wants to be remembered as the greatest heavyweight of all time, he needs to be able to fight at least twice a year, and he needs to continue winning his fights in dominant fashion.

He has proved time and again the latter is not difficult for him. The true test is whether or not he can stay healthy and be an active UFC champion.

That's a wrap! will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 188 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FX Channel at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

For more information on UFC 188, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.

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