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What to watch at the UFC 168 circus in Las Vegas

By Zach Arnold | December 27, 2013

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This much we know: there will be details released regarding the new UFC Fight Pass online channel. If you haven’t read Tim Stark’s piece on Fight Opinion about why he’s skeptical Fight Pass will be a big success, take some time to read it. I did an interview with Hot Cage Daily about my expectations for the new online channel. My initial take on the new channel: low risk, low reward proposition.

In addition to discussion about UFC Fight Pass, there are the Brock Lesnar returning to UFC rumors:

One of the things I noted during UFC’s horrific handling of the GSP hiatus situation is how different UFC treated GSP than they treated Lesnar on his way out. I mean, they gave Brock everything he wanted and kept their mouths shut. Brock was the #1 PPV draw and St. Pierre the #2 draw. Now that St. Pierre is gone, here come the Lesnar rumors.

Two thoughts:

1) the fact that it’s even plausible to consider Brock Lesnar returning to UFC says a lot about where UFC stands business-wise and how bad the WWE return experiment went for Brock and

2) Anderson Silva’s camp really thinks they have amazing business leverage, despite the long-term fight contract signed, if they win against Weidman on Saturday and decide that Anderson needs a lot more motivation to fight Vitor Belfort. UFC has drawn the line in the sand that the winner of Saturday’s fight will get Vitor Belfort. Weidman vs. Belfort is a fresh fight and an exciting one. Anderson vs. Belfort is a been-there, done-that scenario with the only fresh angle to it being the prospects of the bout taking place in Brazil.

As for the odds on Saturday’s fights… the money is coming in on Anderson. He was a 3-to-2 favorite and could end up being a 9-to-5 favorite by the time the fight starts. Ronda Rousey started out as a 10-to-1 favorite over Miesha Tate and remains comfortable at an 8-to-1 margin. Josh Barnett remains a 2-to-1 favorite over Travis Browne.

Reading material

If Anderson Silva isn’t motivated for Saturday’s re-match against Chris Weidman, then nothing will motivate him. What happens if he loses?

How many lives does Josh Barnett have left and how lucky is he? This lucky. If he beats Travis Browne on Saturday, he gets a #1 contender’s fight with Fabricio Werdum. Even the idea of Josh Barnett getting a UFC title shot after what happened in the Daniel Cormier bout is really a remarkable story. Another interesting part of the Barnett story is the juxtaposition of him being a drug testing pariah while the wave of fighters getting permission to use anabolic steroids is rising. Failing a drug test is bad but getting permission to use anabolics is apparently socially acceptable. That’s the drug usage standard we have today in combat sports.

Ronda Rousey has been answering questions from the press about the way she was portrayed by the video editors on Ultimate Fighter and some of her controversial media interviews. Basically, her attitude is that as long as you cheer or boo, she’s fine with it. There’s only a problem when the fans are ambivalent or don’t react at all. As far as the expectations game is concerned, though, she has to practically mutilate Miesha Tate in order for the fans not to be disappointed on Saturday night. Breaking another arm won’t be good enough given how intense the animosity is and how high the bar has been set by Ronda’s past performances.

Not many people feel that Miesha Tate has much of a shot of beat Ronda Rousey on Saturday night, but there is one path to victory if she’s disciplined enough to utilize it. Hint: Ronda is BFFs with Nick Diaz and Miesha will have to use a plan that one of Nick’s rivals used against him. The Condit Bicycle. If Miesha takes Ronda down, she’s not powerful enough to maintain position on the ground. She can’t clinch with Ronda because Ronda will easily throw her down to the mat. Ronda’s too good at attacking the angles to get the submission she wants. So, Miesha’s going to have to make this is a striking contest. Ronda Rousey is not Cat Zingano. Cat blasted Miesha into another orbit. In the first fight between Tate and Ronda, there was no comparison between the two when it came to which fighter had effective stand-up striking skills.

Remember, the price tag for this PPV has increased.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 10 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

10 Responses to “What to watch at the UFC 168 circus in Las Vegas”

  1. Alan Conceicao says:

    Main event is fine. Heavyweight bout is fine. Women’s bout is a mismatch, but that’s true about most of them at the very tippy-top. Rest is meaningless pap of guys forever stuck in a neutral “contender” position. I didn’t even know Manny or Doomsday were still in the UFC. Michael Johnson and his one dimension too.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    1) If Brock Lesnar doesn’t care about making another run at the belt, I don’t care much to watch him fight. I loved watching him a few years ago, but I have little interest in guys who just want to do one off type of fights for the money. And it does show just how desperate the UFC is to get a PPV draw during GSP’s vacation.

    2) As somebody who picked Chris Weidman to win the first fight, I think it is insane that Silva is still the favorite for the rematch. Anytime a guy that old gets KO’d, he is a much higher risk to get KO’d a second time.

    3) If Silva wins and then retires (which is being rumored as a possibility)…. The UFC will ahve 2 of their 4 major championships being vacated in 2 months. Not a good thing.

    4) I think Rousey will win, but man I would love to see Tate KO her. Rousey is very beatable. She has bad striking and would turn into the female Brock Lesnar if she can’t secure the takedown. The problem is that the division is so weak I’m not sure that sort of fighter exists. I did have a dream that Tate hit Rousey with a huge shot and Rousey was struggling all around the cage to get her footing and finally Tate KO’d her. I almost never have MMA dreams, so I found that interesting. Probably wishful thinking.

    5) As Alan pointed out, too much of this card is filled with guys who will never be more then mid-level UFC guys. Sadly this is going to be more of the norm as the UFC pushes towards 50 shows in 2014.

    6) Browne/Barnett – I am favoring Barnett, but it should be a good fight. Definitely a 60/40 sort of fight….

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      I don’t know why they keep making these matches like this. They should be headlining minor league casino shows and shit like that. Under the Barnett fight, there should be 3-4 fights of undefeated/one loss prospects in developmental fights. Might not be as competitive, but it would be more interesting to everyone out there.

      • edub says:

        But Diego Brandao could be a mix of the next Anderson Silva and GSP at 153 lbs.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I completely agree. Leben/Hall? Who cares about this fight. Neither of them will ever get close to a title shot. It is a pointless fight. And yet the UFC cards are constantly being filled with these sort of fights. More often then not I DVR the Prelims and then end up watching only 1 or 2 of them. I am semi interested in Siver/Gamburyan. The rest I could care less about.

        Here is are some numbers for you. If you take away the PPV Card, the total UFC Record of the rest of the card is: 51-42. If you take away Gleison Tibau it is 38-35.

        And 6 of the 12 fighters have a UFC record of .500 or below.

  3. rst says:

    Seeing one guy I hate get smashed and another guy I like win makes all the other zuffa BS almost worth it,
    but as much as I’ve razzed Shmilva over the years I wouldn’t wish a Cory Hill on anybody.

    But he was in the fight until that happened,
    he can retire now and tell himself that Wiedman didn’t really beat him the second time and that might have been champ again except for bad luck.

    And Weidmans a good champ.
    He saw it and pulled right off.
    He’s got class.

    • rst says:

      Guy I hate = barnett not Silva.
      (That looked like I meant Silva.)

      Silvas alright.
      I’m past my frustration with him by now.

  4. Jonathan says:

    OMG, that sounded sick. I was reading the PbP on Sherdog. It sounds like we had another Pele injury.

    Man, it sucks that it how it went down. I was thinking that Silva was going to win.

    Man alive.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    The UFC is lucky with how the first round went with Weidman/Silva. Weidman knocked him down, almost KO’d him, and then dominated him on the ground. At no point did Weidman look weak or did the first fight look like a fluke.

    So when Silva broke his leg, Weidman is still a credible champion. Not to mention Weidman checked the kick which is what created the broken leg.

    Imagine if Silva dominated Round 1 and then broke his leg. It would be a completely different reaction.

    Weidman is the real deal. Silva fans have to get past this fact.

    • Jonathan says:

      What happened has always been a worry of mine when I see people check really hard leg kicks. I had something similar happen to me when I checked a leg kick in 8th grade.

      And I think that Weidman comes off as a VERY CREDIBLE champion. He has two wins over the old guard champ, one of which was a KO and the other being a gruesome injury.

      I thought that if Silva was going to win this fight, it would be my KO, and it would have been in the first round.


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