Five Huge Questions going into UFC 178: Johnson vs. Cariaso

demetrious_johnson_ufc174The UFC 178 PPV event is set to take place on Saturday, September 27, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event will be headlined by the UFC flyweight title fight between champion Demetrious Johnson and challenger Chris Cariaso.

The co-main event will feature the much anticipated lightweight fight between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and former Bellator champion making his UFC debut Eddie Alvarez. Also, a featherweight scrap between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will be on tap. It’s a very good looking card on paper with some anticipated fights, so let’s get to the five huge questions going into the event:

Does this PPV event crack the 250,000 buyrate?

Demetrious Johnson has been able to pull solid ratings when he fights on FOX, but that hasn’t translated to being a PPV draw. UFC 174 was the only time Johnson headlined a PPV on his own and the results were the lowest UFC PPV numbers since the dark ages with around 115,000 PPV buys. Of course, most lighter weight fighters are not big PPV draws so a solid supporting cast of fighters on a card is usually needed to boost those numbers. The UFC 174 card featured Johnson fighting someone that even hardcore fans hardly knew, and the rest of the card didn’t feature many highly anticipated fights. There are known names on this UFC 178 card in Donald Cerrone, Eddie Alvarez, and the hype of Conor McGregor going up against his toughest test to date in Dustin Poirier. Also, not that women’s MMA is a huge boon, but the return of Cat Zingano is of interest to hardcore fans as well more than likely. However, Johnson is again fighting someone in Cariaso that almost nobody knows. It has been a few weeks since the last UFC PPV, so maybe fans will be willing to shell out some money for this one?

Will Eddie Alvarez be able to put the brakes on the incredible run that Donald Cerrone is currently on?

Donald Cerrone has won four consecutive fights in the last 10 months and has finished all four of those opponents by either TKO/KO or submission in those fights. He has won a performance bonus of some sort in all four of those fights as well. Alvarez has won three in a row, but has only fought once in the past two years with that win avenging a previous defeat against Michael Chandler in his last fight with Bellator to reclaim their lightweight title. Both fighters love to stand and bang with Cerrone having more of a varied attack with punches and kicks. He is also very dangerous on the ground as well.  We’ve seen Alvarez rocked on several occasions, but he does go to the body well which has been a weakness of Cerrone in the past. I’m not sure Alvarez has enough fire power at this stage of his career. However, he has been waiting for this moment for a couple of years and surely he will be motivated to impress on Saturday night.

Will Dustin Poirier put an end to the Conor McGregor hype train?

Fighters should take notes on how Conor McGregor has promoted himself(along with winning impressively) to become a star overnight. McGregor has won all three of his UFC fights and 11 fights in a row dating back to 2010. Poirier has also won three consecutive fights and looks to have grown quite a bit as a fighter in the past year or so. He will be McGregor’s toughest test to date and a win for either fighter puts them on the short list for a title shot. There is a little bit of ‘bad blood’ in this one as well with Poirier believing that McGregor is nothing but hype and is motivated to show the UFC brass on Saturday night.

How will former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz look after major injuries and a two year layoff?

Cage rust is real. You know it, I know it, and Dominick Cruz knows it. Cruz will not only be battling cage rust, but he’ll be coming off at least two major ACL surgeries when he steps back into the Octagon on Saturday night against a very durable Takeya Mizugaki. Cruz was known for a lot of movement with his footwork and ability to use his cardio to wear opponents down. Will he still have those attributes after the injuries and time away from competition? He is still in his physical prime as he just turned 29 years old a couple of weeks ago. It will be a good test to see where the former champion is as fighter at this point in his career.

How will women’s bantamweight standout Cat Zingano look in her return to action againt Amanda Nunes?

Zingano was near the top of the women’s MMA world in April 2013 as he had just beaten former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate and earned the right to coach opposite Ronda Rousey on “The Ultimate Fighter” while fighting for the title later that year. However, none of that came to fruition after Zingano suffered a knee injury that has kept her out of action up until this point. Tate went on to coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” against Rousey and subsequently lose the rematch with her in December 2013. Zingano will have to earn another shot at the title with a win over Amanda Nunes who has won two fights in a row. Zingano has also had to overcome the loss of her husband in January 2014 after he committed suicide. She has endured a lot of lows in the past year and a half, and Saturday night could get her back on track if she’s able to get the win.

Be sure to stay tuned to for more UFC 178 news and coverage his week.

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