By Adam Martin
There doesn’t seem to be much buzz about UFC 163, but when you look at it deeper, it’s actually a fairly intriguing card with a number of hidden storylines buried amidst all the injuries and lineup-changes. Here are five reasons why what happens at UFC 163 actually matters.
Aldo vs. Jung: A Fight That May Change The Face Of Not One, But Two Divisions
Not many people are talking about this, but UFC 163’s main event featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and challenger Chan Sung Jung is one of the rare fights that could have an immediate impact on multiple weight classes.
If Aldo wins, he’ll be on a 16-fight win streak, and it’s quite possible that he’ll make the decision to move up to 155 pounds, something that he has hinted at doing for a long time. Now 26 years old, Aldo is finding it harder to make the weight cut down to 145 pounds, and if he can beat Jung in spectacular fashion this weekend, he might tell the UFC he wants to make a run at lightweight.
If he does go to 155, expect Aldo to receive an immediate title shot, which would mean TJ Grant would be out on the sidelines yet again as Aldo would most certainly face the winner of the UFC 164 main event between Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis later this month.
Of course, it’s possible that Aldo stays at 145 and keeps defending his belt against new challengers such as Ricardo Lamas, but I honestly think a move to 155 isn’t as far away as some think it is.
And if Jung shocks the world this weekend and becomes the man to end Aldo’s streak? Well, Aldo could still move up to 155, or he could stay at 145 and possibly get an immediate rematch since he’s been such a dominant champ at the weight. It’s really his call.
At the end of the day Aldo is going to have some big decisions to make after UFC 163, and they’re decisions that the whole MMA world is going to be interested in. Now, let’s wait and see what happens.
Does The Machida vs. Davis Winner Earn A Title Shot?
Following his knockout of Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4, UFC president Dana White told Lyoto Machida that he would be getting the next light-heavyweight title shot because he had “the most impressive win” of any light heavyweight contender on that card.
But after after the debacle that was UFC 151, Machida ended up having to fight Dan Henderson to re-affirm his spot as the No. 1 contender at 205 pounds, and he did so with a split decision win at UFC 157, a win that White said would earn Machida his title shot.
However, the fans responded negatively to the fight with Henderson, and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones said he wasn’t interested in fighting Machida so soon after he already choked him unconscious at UFC 140. And so, Alexander Gustafsson instead got the next 205-pound title shot, and now once again Machida will have to earn another win — this time against Phil Davis — to stay in the title talks.
If he can KO Davis in impressive fashion at UFC 163, expect Machida to fight the winner of Jones vs. Gustafsson — unless it’s another boring fight, in which case the UFC will likely pass him over yet again. So it’s really up to Machida how he wants to approach things.
As for Davis, he’s never fought Jones yet so a finish of Machida this weekend could do wonders for his career and get him to that title fight with Jones he so dearly craves. But again, he can’t just eke out a decision over Machida; he has to get the stoppage, because that’s what the fans want to see from someone who is supposedly going to challenge Jones.
The UFC hasn’t guaranteed either man a title shot with a win on Saturday night, which means both guys don’t have as much pressure on them as they normally do, but make no mistake about it, this is a huge fight in the light-heavyweight division and the winner may very well be fighting for the world championship before the end of the year.
The Return of Cezar ‘Mutante’ Ferreira
Coming back from an injury layoff that has lasted over an entire year, Cezar Mutante returns to action this weekend in a main card matchup against Thiago Santos at UFC 163.
Mutante hasn’t competed since UFC 147 in June of 2012, when he defeated Sergio Moraes to win the TUF Brazil 1 middleweight bracket. One of the stronger fighters in the division, Mutante is a protégé of Vitor Belfort and the UFC has high hopes for this guy, which is why he’s getting a main card slot despite his unseasoned record and the fact he hasn’t fought in forever.
I do believe Mutante has some potential because of his well-rounded game, but I’m just not sure how far he can actually go — although his ceiling is high if his chin holds up against the big boys of 185. Still, he really should roll against Santos, who took this fight on short notice and is a natural welterweight. And if Mutante can get a highlight-reel win, expect the UFC propaganda machine to really start cranking on this guy, because he definitely has the look and the skills to be sold as a future champion down in Brazil, even if many observers of the sport believe he’s been overrated by the promotion.
Is John Lineker The Next Great Flyweight?
Although the flyweights aren’t known for their knockout power, one fighter who does possess the ability to lay out his opponents at 125 pounds is John Lineker, who takes on Jose Tome in the opening fight of the UFC 163 pay-per-view.
Lineker is a 5’2″ beast, and he showed just how devastating his striking is in his last fight against Azamat Gashimov at UFC on FX 8, a fight that he won via brutal TKO in the second round, a victory which moved him to 2-1 overall inside the Octagon.
Since the flyweight division is so shallow, a win over Tome this weekend would up Lineker’s record to 3-1 and he could very well jump into the #1 contender spot at 125 pounds even though he lost to Louis Gaudinot at UFC on FOX 3 just last year.
But many people have already forgotten about that loss, and if Lineker knocks out Tome, even more are going to forget about it because the UFC is likely going to grant him a title shot at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
The pressure is on, and we’re about to see how Lineker handles it.
The Fall of Ian McCall
With a 0-2-1 record inside the UFC, flyweight Ian McCall has his back up against the wall this weekend and he’s no doubt going to need a victory over Iliarde Santos on the UFC 163 preliminary card if he not only wants to remain a title contender at 125 pounds, but also keep his job in the UFC.
This is a fight that McCall really should win — a fact he’s quite aware of — and although the theme of UFC 163 is mismatches between foreigners and Brazilians, McCall is one of the rare Americans who is considered the favorite, because, honestly, he’s light years ahead of Santos in term of talent and skill.
The problem with “Uncle Creepy,” though, is that he can get mentally unfocused at times. He’s acknowledged that himself, and blamed it for his loss to Demetrious Johnson at UFC on FX 3, a loss that cost him the chance to fight for the first-ever UFC flyweight title.
But in a shallow weight division (and with a brilliant moustache that makes him automatically marketable) McCall isn’t that far away from a trilogy match with “Mighty Mouse,” and if he gets by Santos this weekend, he could actually get that fight sometime soon.
If he loses, though, he could be given his walking papers. It’s crazy that there’s a sport like MMA where one win or loss could either garner you a shot at the title or lead to the loss of your job, but it is what it is, and that’s why I expect the best McCall we’ve ever seen this weekend to show up and do business. Because if he doesn’t, the fall of Ian McCall is going to be talked about by the hardcore fans on message boards for months and months to come, because this was the guy who was the #1 seed in the flyweight tournament just over a year ago.
Is there anything else on the UFC 163 card that has you interested — or at least slightly curious? Let us know in the comments section, and be sure to come back to CagePotato.com tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT for our liveblog of the PPV main card.