UFC 168 – A Proving Ground for Champions
By Christopher Jester
The majority of the fights on the UFC 168 card will be about proving something. From the main event to the first bout on the main card, the UFC’s last event of the year has everything you may want from a UFC “Super card”. However, what is on the line for these fighters is their legacy, divisional standings, and pride.
The obvious fight that has the most repercussions is the main event. The middleweight championship rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva has so much on the line. Most of the attention will be on Anderson Silva who dominated the division for so long that he seemed immortal. But it was the enigmatic Weidman who shocked the world in their last bout with a surprising knockout.
In all actuality, Silva has the most pressure on himself in this fight – not Chris Weidman. He has to go out and prove that he lost the previous fight on a fluke. Or at least show up in the fight not clowning around this time. So much of that first fight is still up for debate. Did Weidman defeat Silva or did Silva defeat himself? How would a fully-focused Anderson Silva perform against Weidman as the challenger? These are the questions that have become the main focus in this rematch.
Weidman on the other hand has a bit less pressure in this fight. He already knocked out Anderson Silva, and everyone except those in team Weidman think it was just a freak accident that he did it the first time. However, it does not mean that there is not something for him to prove. Weidman has to rinse and repeat for the most part to prove the skeptics wrong. A loss here may put him on the one hit wonder status. But his stature will surely either continue to rise or fall depending on if he can defeat Silva again.
The co-main event, a bout between UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, has a number of reasons why each fighter has something to prove. Much of the burden is on Tate who lost to Rousey back in Strikeforce via a crippling armbar and technically only earned the rematch because of an injury to Cat Zingano. But most of it comes from whether she can adapt to Rousey’s approach to fighting as she is the first person the champion has fought in a rematch. If Tate could formulate a gameplan to counter the eventual armbar, how far could she take Rousey into deep waters?
Rousey, on the other hand has faced much criticism for how she appeared on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. After being considered “exposed” for her true self, many consider that she lost fans after the showings. Although Rousey is not likely one to care about if the fans like her or not, her popularity as a champion will determine if she remains a big draw for UFC pay-per-view numbers in the future. Becoming a ratings and attention grabber is the reason why UFC President Dana White brought her over. Rousey has to face up to how the show demonstrated her and embrace it. A dominating performance over Tate again may allow fans to look the other way at her chosen persona for the show.
In other featured match-ups, Josh Barnett and Travis Browne get a chance to demonstrate why they are the next contenders in the heavyweight division. Gleison Tibau and Michael Johnson have to continue their winning streaks, while Johnson has to display that same ferocity he showed in his bout against Joe Lauzon. However, the most pressure is on Uriah Hall and Chris Leben. Hall has not been the same since his stunning knockout victories on his season of TUF. Getting back to winning ways is vital for him. But Leben is facing this same amount of scrutiny. On a three-fight losing streak, Leben has his back against the wall here and may face being released from the UFC or forced into retirement if he does not capture a victory here against Hall.
UFC 168 has some great match-ups, but each one of them has repercussions for each fighter’s career. Obviously, the heaviest amount of burden is for those participating in the main event and co-main event. Can they prove that the first fight was just a fluke or that they just ended up unfortunately on the wrong end? UFC 168 is the event of proving the odds wrong, but will these fighters be able to defy the force on them?
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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