Demetrious Johnson (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)UFC 178: What to Watch For RJ Gardner September 23, 2014 Events, Spotlight On September 27, 2014, the UFC returns to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV for UFC 178: Johnson vs. Cariaso. This event has been in a constant state of flux and it’s truly amazing what the UFC has been able to put together, given all of the injuries they’ve encountered. On paper, this has the potential to become the fight card of the year, and with so many tremendous matchups, this card will be well worth the pay-per-view investment. This card features three different bouts that could headline a UFC Fight Night with no questions whatsoever, and a total of eight matchups that have “Fight of the Night” potential. UFC 178 is a “Can’t Miss” in every sense of the words, and here is why: Patrick Cote vs. Stephen Thompson This matchup has me truly excited, as it should everybody, as Cote and Thompson are two of the better strikers in all of MMA. Cote is a tough as nails veteran who once fought Anderson Silva for the middleweight title while Thompson is one of the best technical kickboxers in the sport. Both men can compete within a variety of techniques of the game, but they prefer to stand and strike. Jorge Masvidal vs. James Krause The UFC lightweight division is extensively deep and undoubtedly competitive. So much so that one loss is all it takes to push a fighter out of the spotlight. Masvidal and Krause are two fighters looking to make a splash in the UFC’s most talent-rich division. A win here for either man would take them to that next level of competition. Both men are well-rounded and have a gifted ranged of skills. This will be a fun one to watch. The Return of Dominick Cruz It has been nearly three years since Cruz last fought. Takeya Mizugaki is a tough draw in his return as No. 5-ranked Mizugaki has won five bouts in a row, but the former bantamweight champion should be up for the challenge. Cruz was bit by the injury bug and has been sidelined for an unexpected amount of time. He’s been out so long that we don’t exactly know what to expect from the former kingpin. Here’s my thought—The rest of the bantamweight division better be looking over their shoulders, because Cruz back, and he is coming for his title. The Return of Cat Zingano Zingano has not competed since her UFC debut against Miesha Tate over a year ago, and after battling injuries and personal hardships, she is ready to make a statement. Prior to her injury, Zingano was slated to challenge Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title. Now that she is healthy, and Rousey has essentially cleaned out the division, a win here puts her right back at the top of the heap. Amanda Nunes is a skilled striker, but Zingano’s all-around game is deadly. Tim Kennedy vs. Yoel Romero I remember a couple of years ago when the UFC middleweight division was a veritable wasteland ruled by a vicious kingpin named Anderson Silva. Man, has a lot changed; today the middleweight division is one of the most interesting in all of MMA, and there are numerous fighters competing to earn the next title shot. Kennedy and Romero are both undefeated in the UFC and are on the cusp of becoming true contenders. Kennedy is the more well-rounded of the two, but Romero has a unique blend of elite wrestling and devastating power. The winner of this bout is going to fly up the rankings. Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor Poirier and McGregor are two of the best young talents in all of MMA; McGregor has been getting the star treatment since joining the UFC while many have forgotten that Poirier is every bit as dangerous. The winner of this bout will instantly be in the featherweight title mix. McGregor is the more talented striker, while Poirier is a little bit better on the ground. It will be interesting to see who can impose their will on the other and bring home the victory. Donald Cerrone vs. Eddie Alvarez Finally, Alvarez is in the UFC where he belongs and this matchup against Cerrone is exactly the kind of matchup that MMA fans have wanted to see. Alvarez has been one of the best lightweights in the world for some time now, but he hasn’t been able to prove it by competing against the best in the world; now he can. The downfall for Alvarez is that Cerrone is arguably in the best phase of his career; having won four straight bouts, all by way of stoppage. This bout has “Fight of the Year” potential. The Dominance of Demetrious Johnson Johnson is an elite champion and doesn’t get the attention that he rightfully deserves from fans and the media, but unlike other top fighters, doesn’t seem too perturbed by it. Johnson is heading into this bout against No. 8-ranked Chris Cariaso looking to defend his title for the fifth consecutive time after absolutely destroying contenders ranked No. 1-3, 5 and 7. He is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the flyweight division and he continues to evolve and improve his game. His footwork and speed are unmatched in the sport today, as he is just now entering the prime of his career.