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UFC 188: A Complete A-to-Z Preview

(Think this is some brilliant guerilla marketing? Just wait until you try the Pollos Locos Velasquezamos Gorditas, hitting a Taco Bell near you!)

By Nasir Jabbar

Some of UFC’s marquee Hispanic fighters are graced to appear on the promotion’s second trip to Mexico at UFC 188 this weekend, none more prominent than heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. The injury prone Velasquez (well, calling him “injury prone” might be an understatement. The man’s spent more time in the ER than Tim “The Toolman” Taylor) returns to the octagon to take on interim-champion Fabricio Werdum for the unified heavyweight title, and in the night’s co-main event, Mexican-American Strikeforce vet Gilbert Melendez faces former Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez.

The main-card is rounded off with a important women’s strawweight bout and a couple of intriguing match-ups below, so by now you should know how it works – I’ve compiled an comprehensive A-to-Z list previewing the heck out of UFC 188. Join me?

A is for AKA
Following Daniel Cormier‘s title triumph, can teammate and good friend Velasquez hold onto his strap, and make it two UFC belts for the San Jose team, AKA? Not bad for a “stone age” gym.

B is for “Bust His Ass Up”
Gilbert Melendez recently delivered some riveting pre-fight verbal’s aimed at Eddie Alvarez at the UFC 188 presser, claiming he will “bust his ass up.” Well, riveting for Gil, anyway.

C is for Cain
The heavyweight champ has been on the shelf for fifteen months while rehabbing his injuries, but finally makes his return. Velasquez was supposed to be the promotions main vehicle venturing into Mexico the first time around, but injuries postponed that. Can Cain stay healthy for the rest of the week? Recent history says “Probably not!”

D is for Do Yourself A Favour
Do yourself a favour and re-watch this:

E is for Ears
Remember when Leslie Smith’s exploded at the UFC’s debut event in Mexico? Yeah, that was gnarly.

F is for Fighting Irish
It’s not long now until the eagerly anticipated dust-up between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor, but in the meantime, UFC 188 will feature another Irishman in the shape of McGregor teammate (and r/MMA P4P king) Cathal Pendred. “The Punisher” is currently riding a 3-fight win streak since entering the promotion, even if the last victory was the result of a horrible hometown decision.

G is for Going Down
After suffering his long-awaited UFC debut to Donald Cerrone, Dana White encouraged Alvarez to switch divisions by going down to featherweight, a move Alvarez said could only be achieved by cutting off a limb.

H is for Hot Potatoes
New territories mean local ring girls, which mean these hot potatoes will once again strut their stuff. CagePotato, bless you. (Ed note: You’re welcome.)

I is for It’s Been A While
It’s been a long, long time since Velasquez has entered the cage, as his AKA buddy Daniel Cormier’s career shows. In the time since the heavyweight champ’s last fight, “DC” has beaten up a barista on short-notice, ragged dolled ‘Hendo’, had a brawl in the MGM lobby, lost to Jon Jones and then captured the light-heavyweight title. *And breath*.

J is for Jealously
The rise of Paige Van Zant has been something, after one UFC bout she was signed up to a exclusive Reebok deal, and was then thrust into the limelight with a fight featured on big FOX. This has been pretty much the talk of the town in the women’s strawweight division with most having a say on it. UFC 188 competitor Tecia Torres even admitted that she was jealous of the meteoric rise of the budding prospect. Torres looks to mount a challenge for the title as she takes on fellow TUF 20 alum Angela Hill.

K is for Knee
Velasquez is returning after suffering a torn meniscus and MCL in his knee, yet feels confident that ring rust will not play a factor on Saturday night.

L is for Latin America
The Zuffa promotion is continuing its global expansion, with Latin America one of their main focuses. With the introduction of TUF: Latin America and the popularity of the sport in this continent, countries are now clamouring for live events with many untapped markets in the region.

M is for Mexican War
Melendez and Sanchez engaged in what was being dubbed as a Mexican war, and when Melendez and Alvarez meet in the octagon, I can only imagine something very similar going down. Call it the Mexi-Puerto Rican Missile Crisis, maybe?

N is for Native
Even though all but one bout on UFC 188 features an Hispanic fighter, only five of them are native Mexicans. If the UFC are trying to convert boxing fans, the promotion really needs homegrown fighters to really capture the Mexicans hearts.

O is for Olympian
After campaigning to get on the card, the former Olympic gold-medallist, Henry Cejudo, gets to fight in Mexico. The unbeaten flyweight has the potential to be a big hit in Mexico with his rags-to-riches story and fluency in Spanish. A victory over Chico Camus could see him leapfrog the other flyweight contenders and land him that title shot.

P is for Partisan
The last visit to Mexico was a huge success at the gate with a complete sell-out, expect the same for UFC 188 with a strong partisan crowd.

Q is for Quirky
The interim-champion is one quirky individual.

R is for Rumblings
Sponsorship rumblings and grumblings from discontented fighters continue ahead of UFC 188 with Gil Melendez, who recently stated that he would of had to “get a real job” if it wasn’t for his sponsors.

S is for Superfight
Even with his legal woes, Velasquez still thinks a super fight with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is a possibility. And honestly, Jones might just have his sh*t together by the time Cain comes back from his whatever injury he acquires this weekend.

T is for There Can Only Be One
“There can only be one champion” is the motto for this event as the heavyweight champion and interim champion look to unify the belts. Carrying on…

U is for Unification
The main-event is the first UFC unification bout since UFC 154, where GSP and ‘NBK’ fought for the unified welterweight title.

V is for ‘Vai Cavalo’
Due to the withdrawal of Velaquez at UFC 180, ‘Vai Cavalo’ took it upon himself to embrace the adoring Mexicans, and the Brazillian did a pretty swell job by giving renditions of famous Latin songs and seemingly getting the home support.

W is for Welterweight
Kelvin Gastelum, who was forced to move up after failing to make the welterweight limit, is hoping a good performance will allow him return to the welterweight division.

X is for ‘Xtra
Will there have to any ‘xtra lbs dropped after the scheduled weigh-ins with notably weight-cutting failures in Cejudo and Gastelum stepping on the scales?

Y is for Yair Rodriguez
After winning TUF: Latin America, Rodriguez now takes on Charles Rosa. Considering his previous foes have been Hispanic fighters on local regional shows, fighting the Boston native is a big step-up.

Z is for names ending in Z
Six fighters name end with the letter Z. Mind = blown.

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