UFC 180, live from the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico, comes to the world live this Saturday with a different lineup than what the promotion planned, but the anticipation still stands solid for what should be a groundbreaking moment in history. With UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez on the shelf for now, top heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum now draws “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt, who has made quite the run for himself as of late. The co-main sees Jake Ellenberger in action against TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum.  Nonetheless, the oddsmakers at online betting site MyTopSportsbooks.com are predicting his submission by Werdum, who at -530, is the heavy favorite.

The co-main sees Jake Ellenberger in action against TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum. While the rest of the card has taken major hits with guys like Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez dropping from the card, this “night of firsts” still leaves many things to watch for.

No Cain? No pain.

Just to set the record straight, the UFC wanted Velasquez-Werdum to go down as part of the UFC’s debut in Mexico, which was essentially the point of having them both coach The Ultimate Fighter’s recent all-Latin America season. In fact, UFC president Dana White publicly stated that they would not go forward with a card in Mexico until Velasquez got cleared.

Of course, with a full card already booked and fans looking for any way they can to see it live and in person, the UFC couldn’t cancel the card when a knee injury forced Velasquez from the bill, but looking at the newly-finalized card from top to bottom, the promotion didn’t need to. Why? Because of the talent on the card. Especially with the country’s hungriest up-and-comers, this event just seems too alluring to pass up, even if people still preferred the original Velasquez-Werdum booking to the current Werdum-Hunt headliner.

Fighting pride

Mexico holds a strong reputation for passionate crowds and passionate sports athletes, especially in the case of combat sports athletes, and The Ultimate Fighter: Latin American bantamweight final of Alejandro Pérez vs. José Alberto Quiñónez is no exception. Fighting their way to the finals of the season, and then not only looking to become the first bantamweight to win TUF: Latin America, but also looking to win the first all-Mexico final in TUF history, this bout holds weight on its own, but then we take into account the fact that the 14-5 Pérez owns his most recent loss to Quiñónez. If any bout promises to provide some “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” moments, this fight does.

One more road to cross, one more risk to take

Fabricio Werdum’s UFC 180 bout with Mark Hunt represents a different “risk vs reward” situation from any other fight he has taken in recent months. Werdum is so close to the long-awaited fight with Velasquez, but Hunt is a heavyweight best known for his penchant for walk-off knockouts. On paper, Werdum’s five-inch reach advantage and grappling game are too much for the K-1 level kickboxer, but we get wrapped up so much in Hunt’s knockouts and the fact that he has never submitted anyone in his career it’s easy to forget that Hunt has defended 72% of the takedowns directed at him.

With an interim title, and a chance to unify Velasquez’s belt with the interim gold, fans can expect that for as long as this one lasts, neither man will be anywhere except in their opponent’s grill and throwing nothing but heavyweight leather. The big question is will Hunt make Werdum pay for risking his title shot against “Super Samoan”, or will Werdum cash in on a huge opportunity against Hunt and keep his hopes of fighting Velasquez alive?

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.