1. Can Nate Diaz produce an upset by bringing an end to Gray Maynard’s winning streak?
We’ve spoken at length about Maynard’s need to do something special in this fight if he wants the next shot at lightweight champion BJ Penn. At the same time Nate Diaz is currently 1-2 in his last three visits to the octagon, and a defeat tonight would likely crush any hopes he has of being a title contender further down the line.
The conventional wisdom going into this fight is that Maynard has improved significantly since he lost to Diaz on the TUF 5 show. Though that may be true it would be unwise to discount the potential for Diaz to produce an upset here.
2. Will it be Evan Dunham or Efrain Escudero who picks up the first loss of their careers?
With Dunham currently 9-0, and Escudero 12-0, somebody’s unbeaten run is about to come to an end tonight.
In some ways it’s a shame that one of these up and coming lightweight prospects is about to suffer a setback, but nonetheless I’m looking forward to seeing who is the better man on the night.
3. Can Tom Lawlor find a way to stop the ‘A Train’?
Aaron Simpson has marked himself out as a genuine prospect by bulldozing his way through his first two opponents in the UFC. He’s widely tipped (including by myself) to do the same this evening, so Lawlor has his work cut out for him if he want’s to emerge victorious.
After emerging with the ‘Submission Of The Night’ bonus at UFC 100, he might look to a submission from the bottom as his best way to upset the odds, but can he make it work under Simpson’s unrelenting pressure?
4. How good is Amir Sadollah at this stage in his career?
Despite showing improved muay thai striking in his win over Phil Baroni at UFC 106, we still don’t know a great deal about TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah’s overall skills.
Having never fought before winning the show, and then spending over a year on the sidelines due to injury, it’s difficult to assess exactly how far he has progressed and where he stands in the welterweight division.
His fight against Brad Blackburn will hopefully provide some answers.
5. Does Chris Leben still have what it takes to fight in the UFC, or will tonight be the last time we see ‘The Crippler’ in the octagon?
A competitor in the original season of The Ultimate Fighter, Chris Leben has struggled to maintain the form that saw him go on a five fight winning streak in the UFC after the show.
The 29 year old currently holds only two wins in his last six fights, and Leben himself has admitted that a loss against Jay Silva at UFN 20 could bring an end to his time in the UFC.
Leben has had an assortment of troubles in the past few years, including DUI charges and a steroids suspension, and there have been questions over how mentally and physically prepared he was for his last fight.
Tonight Leben has one final chance to prove that he can put his problems behind him and get his career back on track.