UFC Fight Night 40 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC 173

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2014

UFC Fight Night 40 Results: 10 Burning Questions Heading into UFC 173

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    TIM LARSEN/Associated Press

    UFC Fight Night 40 is in the books. The results are as follows:

    UFC Fight Night 40 Main Card (Fox Sports 1)

    • Matt Brown def. Erick Silva, TKO (Round 3, 2:11)
    • Costas Philippou def. Lorenz Larkin, knockout (Round 1, 3:47)
    • Daron Cruickshank def. Erik Koch, TKO (Round 1, 3:21)
    • Neil Magny def. Tim Means, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
    • Soa Palelei def. Ruan Potts, knockout (Round 1, 2:20)
    • Chris Cariaso def. Louis Smolka, split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

    Fox Sports 2 Prelims

    • Ed Herman def. Rafael Natal, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Kyoji Horiguchi def. Darrell Montague, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
    • Zak Cummings def. Yan Cabral, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Johnny Eduardo def. Eddie Wineland, TKO (Round 1, 4:37)

    UFC Fight Pass Prelims

    • Nik Lentz def. Manny Gamburyan, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
    • Justin Salas def. Ben Wall, knockout (Round 1, 2:41)
    • Albert Tumenov def. Anthony Lapsley, knockout (Round 1, 3:56)

    Next up? UFC 173

    While Fight Night 40 was a card stacked with fun fights with little title ramifications, UFC 173 is chock-full of intriguing bouts between high-level talent. Headlined by a bantamweight title fight between Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw, there is a whole lot for fans to look forward to.

    So what should you be focusing in on when you're talking to your bros? Find out right here!

How Will Chris Holdsworth Do?

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    When season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter ended, it seemed like the UFC was adding four or five future stars to the roster. Well, it hasn't really shaken out that way. 

    Most of the males got cut outright (only to immediately find success in other promotions). Most of the ladies have stunk up the joint. Female winner Julianna Pena and men's runner-up David Grant are both sidelined with injuries. 

    But fear not, TUF18 fans! Chris Holdsworth is set to return to the cage.

    The Team Alpha Male product dominated the competition on the show and makes his UFC debut opposite an untested Chico Camus. It's a fight Holdsworth could easily win, and it could be the start of his run toward the bantamweight top 10 (which, by the way, would make him the third Alpha Male in that group).

    So how will he do?

Will Either of the 'TUF15' Finalists Catch Up to Myles Jury?

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Hey guys, remember TUF15 when Al Iaquinta beat Myles Jury? And how Michael Chiesa choked Iaquinta out cold?

    No? Really? Well, it was pretty cool.

    The toast of the TUF15 class right now is Jury, who has gone 5-0 since the show and currently sits in the No. 9 spot on the rankings (though he moved up a couple in the last few weeks due to all this Nate Diaz and TJ Grant wackiness). Lost in the shuffle are two very, very good lightweights in Chiesa and Iaquinta. 

    Iaquinta is undefeated since the TUF15 finale, while Chiesa has been generally solid outside a hiccup against Jorge Masvidal. Yet neither of them are getting much of a shake in today's lightweight division.

    Can either of them send a reminder to who actually won The Ultimate Fighter, and which fighter washed out of it early on?

Which Bantamweight Is Going to Deserve a Title Shot After This?

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    Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

    Dillashaw is booked to face Barao at UFC 173, but there are two guys who are arguably more deserving of a title shot facing off just a few hours earlier in the tilt between Takeya Mizugaki and Francisco Rivera. 

    Mizugaki is one of the bantamweight division's elder statesmen and has been a steady presence in the top-10 rankings since 2009. He alternated wins and losses from 2009 through 2012, competing against the best the division has had to offer. Since 2012, though, he has broken off four straight, including wins over ranked fighters Bryan Caraway and Erik Perez. 

    Rivera, meanwhile, had an inauspicious debut with the WEC and UFC, which led to a quick exit from the world's top promotions. After a couple of first-round stoppage victories with Tachi Palace Fights, however, he was invited for a second go and has racked up four straight with his three most recent all coming via knockout (ignoring his failed drug test).

    Whoever wins this bout owns an impressive five-fight winning streak that is deserving of a title shot. 

Could Jamie Varner Be Fighting for His Job?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Jamie Varner underwent an enormous career resurgence over a three-fight span when he returned to the UFC, upset Edson Barboza, put on the 2012 Fight of the Year against Joe Lauzon, then beat up Melvin Guillard. Since then, though, he has dropped two straight, seeing Gleison Tibau lay-and-pray him and most recently getting decapitated by an Abel Trujillo haymaker. 

    That, quite possibly, might have put Varner's back to the wall.

    Varner is 1-3 over his last four, and there is no positive way to spin that. If he advances to 1-4, which will be capped with a three-fight losing streak, his chances of getting cut are very high.

    He is a fun fighter to watch and a solid veteran, but he isn't a legitimate fan favorite and isn't widely remembered for being the WEC lightweight champ. He hasn't earned Zuffa's loyalty like, say, Leonard Garcia did. He will find little sympathy in the UFC's offices and, because of that, is about as likely to avoid the chopping block following three straight losses as any other middling lightweight.

    He faces off with James Krause, who is 1-1 in the UFC and fresh off being declared the loser of a fight against Bobby Green for taking too many nut shots. He's a potentially formidable youngster who may or may not be a tough draw for Varner.

    So what does the future hold for the lovable heel?

Will Robbie Lawler Reassert Himself as a Top Welterweight?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Robbie Lawler's change from an aging middleweight in the death throes of his career to an elite welterweight was one of the most absurd and entertaining stories of 2013. While that still didn't get him much love from the bookies for his title fight with Johny Hendricks, he once again proved everyone wrong by giving "Bigg Rigg" everything he could handle.

    He lost by a narrow 48-47 many scored in the opposite direction...but now comes the hard part. 

    Fans have seen many, many welterweight contenders fall apart after missing their chance for the belt. Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves and Josh Koscheck are just a few of the guys to rise to the top and fall by the wayside. Could Robbie Lawler be the next one to join that lot?

    He faces a very tall order in Jake Ellenberger, a hard-hitting wrestler in the same vain as Hendricks. This is a fight Lawler should be able to win...so can he pull it off? Or will he become the latest victim of that ugly cycle?

Is Jake Ellenberger the Same Guy He Was in 2011?

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    Al Bello/Getty Images


    Oh wait, actually, no...IFL was pretty bad.

    Anyway, from 2010 until 2011, there were few fighters as hazardous to your health as Ellenberger. He racked up a brutal six-fight winning streak that included fearsome knockouts over Jake Shields and Mike Pyle.

    Since then, however, he just hasn't looked as formidable. He has gone 2-2 over his last four and has failed to put away anybody other than (ugh) Nate Marquardt. Most recently, he was outpointed in a snoozer of a fight by Rory MacDonald.

    So really, how good is Ellenberger? Will his early success turn out to be something of an anomaly? Or will it be his recent troubles that pan out to be a fluke?

Will Daniel Cormier Even Be Challenged by Dan Henderson?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Remember Dan Henderson vs. Jake Shields, and how the welterweight dominated Henderson on the ground for four full rounds? Well, that was four years ago and Henderson hasn't gotten any younger since. And now, he's about to face off with a much bigger, much stronger Daniel Cormier who is probably the single best wrestler in MMA today.

    So really...will Cormier even be challenged by Henderson?

    Obviously, "one punch..." and "anything can happen..." and all that. But no, really, does anybody see this going any way other than Cormier dominating where the fight takes place from bell to bell?

Is the UFC Actually Serious About Dan Henderson as a Title Contender?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    As you might have gathered from the last slide, I'm not exactly buying into Henderson these days. The UFC, on the other hand, is allegedly willing to give him a title shot with a win over Cormier.

    Obviously, the UFC dubbing any fight a top contender's bout is about as binding as WD-40, but this one seemed particularly silly.

    A light heavyweight title shot for Cormier has seemed like an inevitability ever since he first rose to the top of Strikeforce, but Henderson? He is two seconds' worth of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua punches away from being on a four-fight losing streak. He is coming off years of TRT use which, as you have probably heard, really sucks.

    And he's getting a title shot with a win? Really?

    It's tough to peg if the UFC is serious in regard to a possible Henderson title shot. In all likelihood, though, we'll never get to find out.

Does TJ Dillashaw Actually Have Anything for Renan Barao?

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    Andre Penner/Associated Press

    This is a pretty straightforward question.

    Dillashaw, skillwise, is like a Urijah Faber Lite. He is more comfortable standing up, less comfortable rolling, but not profoundly better or worse in either department. Faber, though, has twice lost to Barao in pretty convincing fashion.

    On paper, that would suggest that this is something of a slam dunk for Barao. Will it play out that way? Or will Dillashaw surprise fans with a spirited effort or (gasp) a win?

What's the News on Dominick Cruz?

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    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Obviously, UFC 169 was supposed to see Dominick Cruz and Barao face off in a long-awaited title unification bout. He was forced to withdraw from that fight and stripped of the belt. While his coaches at the Alliance training center stated he would be out for six to eight weeks...that was three months ago. When the UFC was looking for somebody to take a fight against Barao, the now-former champ was nowhere to be found.

    Interestingly, Cruz hasn't been keeping a low profile over recent weeks and actually worked the Fox Sports desk for Fight Night 40 with Michael Bisping and Jay Glazer. That makes the fact he still hasn't had his next fight booked, or even rumored, somewhat perplexing.

    So is Cruz still planning to return? If so, will he fight Barao? When will it happen?

    We all want to know, but the answers are nowhere to be found.