He’s undefeated twenty fights into his career but it’s still hard to know exactly how legitimate lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov is based on his biggest wins to date coming against Gleison Tibau and Thiago Tavares. Both are skilled veterans, though neither has touched the Top 10 in some time if ever. Nurmagomedov will get a true test when he faces Pat Healy this weekend, taking on a man with a solid winning streak of his own and past success against opponents including Jim Miller (later changed to a No Contest based on marijuana use), Paul Daley, Dan Hardy, and Carlos Condit. To fans paying attention to Brendan Schaub’s run in the Octagon it was no surprise to see the Ultimate Fighter 10 finalist opt for takedowns against Lavar Johnson the last time he took to the cage. His chin may not be glass yet, but it appears to at least be made out of adobe brick. If he can’t get Matt Mitrione to the mat with consistency at UFC 165, there’s a good chance his jaw will have to sustain a wrecking ball or two, and whether Schaub keeps standing or immediately crumbles is definitely up in the air. In the eyes of many, bantamweight Eddie Wineland does not deserve his crack at Renan Barao’s championship. Though Wineland has the momentum of wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett behind him, but he’d lost in back-to-back bouts prior to the two-fight run. If he can hang with Barao, let alone beat him, Wineland will show he was worthy of the opportunity at divisional gold. If not, his stock will take a serious hit as will the credibility of contendership in the UFC. For years talk has related to the advantage light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has over his opponents based on reach. At 84.5”, Jones’ arms extend as long as seven-foot heavyweight Stefan Struve’s – a freakish physical gift to be sure. Though top contender Alexander Gustafsson can’t match the claim, his reach clocks in at a little over 81”. If he can neutralize some of Jones’ patented attacks from the outside, Gustafsson could make things very interesting in the main event and even pull off an upset with a few well-placed shots from a range “Bones” isn’t used to defending against. Elation turned to horror in late April when 205-pound king Jon Jones realized he’d suffered a horrific foot injury during his title-defense against Chael Sonnen. The site of his big toe being dislocated was enough to make many fans feel nauseous, though fortunately the actual prognosis was not necessarily so hard to stomach. Jones is supposedly back to 100% but it will still be intriguing to see if his recent stint with the sidelines, not to mention a previous arm injury, will play a role against streaking Swede Alexander Gustafsson.
Going into every MMA event there are unspoken questions each fighter can address based on performance, quenching fans’ curiosity and delivering on promoters’ plans in the process.
is certainly no different in that regard with the evening’s athletes undoubtedly more anxious to see how action unfolds than any other individual watching from outside the Octagon. Here are five answers the world should have answers to after Saturday night’s show… (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 165