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UFC Fight Night 45 Results: Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 46

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

UFC Fight Night 45 Results: Burning Questions Heading into Fight Night 46

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    UFC Fight Night 45 is in the books. The results are as follows:

    • Donald Cerrone defeats Jim Miller by KO at 3:31 of the second round
    • Edson Barboza defeats Evan Dunham by TKO at 3:06 of the first round
    • Rick Story defeats Leonardo Mafra via submission (arm-triangle) at 2:12 of the second round
    • Joe Proctor defeats Justin Salas by TKO at 3:27 of the second round
    • John Lineker defeats Alptekin Ozkilic by TKO at 4:51 of the third round
    • Lucas Martins defeats Alex White by KO at 2:08 of the third round
    • Gleison Tibau defats Pat Healy by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
    • Leslie Smith defeats Jessamyn Duke by TKO at 2:24 of the first round
    • Aljamain Sterling defeats Hugo Viana by TKO at 3:50 of the third round
    • Yosdenis Cedeno defeats Jerrod Sanders by TKO (retirement) at 5:00 of the first round
    • Claudia Gadelha defeats Tina Lahdemaki by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

    Next up? UFC Fight Night 46. Also known as UFC: Dublin. Also known as UFC: Dublin 2 (UFC 93, headlined by Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson was the first UFC event in Dublin).

    There are 10 fights scheduled for Fight Night 46, sure. Make no mistake, though: This event is all about Conor McGregor. The Irishman has become so popular, so quickly that he has achieved headliner status in just his third UFC fight.

    There are other fights worth talking about on this card, though, so what questions should you ask and what topics should you discuss heading into this Saturday? Find out right here! 

Who Is Getting Cut?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Basically Every Preliminary Card Fight
    The Real Fight: Fighter A vs. Fighter B

    The Stakes

    Sometimes, you find fights like Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael dos Anjos or Claudia Gadelha vs. Tina Lahdemaki on a preliminary card. This is not one of those times. With the exception of Ilir Latifi and the first-timers, everybody on Fight Night 46's preliminary card is likely to be handed a pink slip and WSOF contract offer with a loss.

    The Question

    Who is getting cut?

    Analysis

    You can find something interesting on every UFC card. If not, I wouldn't do these nearly as often as I do. But man, this preliminary card is some kind of bad. With no name value and nearly every fighter coming off a loss, the UFC will be watching Fight Night 46 closely, looking for folks to boot in order to free up spots for female strawweights.

Is Ilir Latifi Going to Assert Himself as a Legitimate Talent?

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    The Fight: Ilir Latifi vs. Chris Dempsey
    The Real Fight: Ilir Latifi vs. Bad First Impressions

    The Stakes

    Ilir Latifi was the brunt of a lot of jokes when he answered the call to headline UFC on Fuel TV 9 on a week's notice. It certainly didn't help that Gegard Mousasi slapped him around for three brutally lopsided rounds. When he was given a second shot inside the Octagon, however, he made the most of the opportunity by destroying Cyrille Diabate.

    In a shallow light heavyweight division, Latifi could put himself on the map with an emphatic win over UFC newcomer Chris Dempsey.

    The Question

    Is Ilir Latifi going to assert himself as a legitimate talent?

    Analysis

    Honestly, you have to feel good about Ilir Latifi getting that win over Diabate. If he didn't, he would have been cut and would have become the go-to example for UFC futility, no matter how good he might have been. By beating Diabate with a first-round submission, he silenced every wisecrack that invoked his name and with a big win over Chris Dempsey, he could move to the fringe of the 205 title picture.

    While that may seem like a big claim, keep in mind that the 205-pound division has Ryan Jimmo, Fabio Maldonado, Rafael Cavalcante and freakin' Vitor Belfort ranked in the top-15. While you might not have heard of Chris Dempsey, he's a legitimate European talent. Should the Swede win, it's hard to make a case against him sliding his way into the No. 13 or 14 spot.

What Does the Future Hold for Norman Parke?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Norman Parke vs. Naoyuki Kotani
    The Real Fight: Important Prospect vs. Wily Veteran

    The Stakes

    Norman Parke may be a fun fighter to watch (well...most of the time), but he is very important for the UFC. With the promotion suddenly high on its prospects in Ireland, the Bushmills-born striker might end up being a deceptively strong anchor for its presence on the Emerald Isle. The UFC gave him an interesting opponent in returning veteran Naoyuki Kotani, who will test his skills all over the cage.

    The Question

    What does the future hold for Norman Parke?

    Analysis

    The UFC has been grooming Parke since he won The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. While most TUF winners have been kept in a separate matchmaking pool, Zuffa has mostly kept Parke on their lap, stroking his gorgeous hair and hand-feeding him imported jobbers. When the UFC took the training wheels off for a fight against TUF: Brazil 2 winner Leonardo Santos and found Parke wanting, the company picked him back up and put him back on a diet of random fighters from the Pacific Rim.

    Kotani isn't an easy out for Parke—he is a 13-year veteran on a solid winning streakbut this fight is tailor-made for him. If he can win, look for him to become a rock for the UFC in Ireland.

So How Good Is Ian McCall?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Brad Pickett vs. Ian McCall
    The Real Fight: Ian McCall vs. Perceptions

    The Stakes

    With a void near the top of the flyweight division, there is a huge opportunity for Ian McCall...but can he take advantage? While "Uncle Creepy" has been regarded as one of the top 125-pound fighters since the division's creation, his 1-2-1 record in the UFC makes it tough to peg if his No. 3 ranking is the result of actual skill or a lack of familiarity with other flyweights. 

    The Question

    So how good is Ian McCall?

    Analysis

    McCall's place in the division really is a mystery right now. He has been able to take rounds off Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, which counts for a lot. Then again, his one win in the UFC (a decision over Iliarde Santos) was not particularly great.

    Brad Pickett is a wily veteran who has fought many big names over the years. This fight will be the measuring stick that lets us know how good McCall really is and how he stacks up in the UFC's flyweight division.

So How Good Is Brad Pickett?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Brad Pickett vs. Ian McCall
    The Real Fight: Perception vs. Reality

    The Stakes

    From 2009 through 2013, Brad Pickett was the bantamweight division's foremost gatekeeper. The hat-wearing Brit is fighting for the belt, however, and has a clear path to the flyweight belt. A win over McCall would put him on the fast track to Demetrious Johnson.

    The Question

    So how good is Brad Pickett?

    Analysis

    Ian McCall and Brad Pickett share the same basic story of late. They beat random scrubs in less-than-emphatic fashion but consistently come up short against high-level talent. With a 2010 win over Mighty Mouse, however, Pickett has a unique claim to a flyweight title shot.

    If he can beat a solid grinder Uncle Creepy.

Why Is Chris Cariaso Fighting Demetrious Johnson?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso
    The Real Fight: Random Title Shots vs. Waiting a Few Days

    The Stakes

    That guy with the murder eyes up there is Chris Cariaso. He just earned a title fight against Demetrious Johnson with a split-decision win over Louis Smolka. That fight was announced just a few days ago...which is strange considering the winner of McCall vs. Pickett would have made for a much more compelling challenger for Mighty Mouse.

    The Question

    Why is Chris Cariaso fighting Demetrious Johnson?

    Analysis

    Look, I like Chris Cariaso. No, really! He's a fun, smart striker who has been behind some solid bouts at both bantamweight and flyweight. But hey, there's no question that he is a light-year behind Brad Pickett and Ian McCall in terms of recognizability (which says a lot, considering 95 percent of MMA fans couldn't pick Pickett out of a lineup and McCall has one UFC win).

    Given the timing, it's strange the UFC didn't just wait a week—literally a weekto find out if Pickett or McCall would be good for a quick turnaround. Either Johnson vs. Pickett or Johnson vs. McCall 3 would have made a stronger co-main event to UFC 177 than Johnson vs. Cariaso.

Will Gunnar Nelson Keep the Hype Train A'Rollin (All Night Long)?

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    Associated Press

    The Fight: Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings
    The Real Fight: Gunnar Nelson vs. Some Poor Sucker

    The Stakes

    Gunnar Nelson made good on all his hype entering the UFC in 2012 when he annihilated DaMarques Johnson. Then the injury bug bit him, and he was forgotten in the fast-moving welterweight division.

    He made his return to the Octagon in March with a brilliant win over Dagestani newcomer Omari Akhmedov. Now he looks to start gathering momentum with a fight opposite TUF17 also-ran Zak Cummings.

    The Question

    Will Gunnar Nelson keep the hype train a'rollin (all night long)?

    Analysis

    Hair metal rocker Gunnar Nelson (pictured above, wearing the billowy sea-foam and turquoise shirt) and inspiration for Futurama's "Single Female Lawyer" episode Alexis Davis are my two favorite Wikipedia surprises. But I digress...

    Gunnar was the hottest prospect in MMA in 2012. While spotty competition and nonstop injuries have kept him from really becoming the household name he was expected to be...holy crap, did you see his fight in March? His grappling is so good, he made Akhmedov look utterly lost back.

    Skill-wise, he is as good as advertised. If he keeps winning, he will be a household name in no time.

So What the Heck Is Going on with Diego Brandao?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao
    The Real Fight: Diego Brandao vs. The Darkness Inside His Head Sometimes

    The Stakes

    Riding a three-fight winning streak and with a crazy submission win over Dennis Bermudez, Diego Brandao seemed like he was a legitimate title contender for a little while there. 

    Then he came in eight pounds overweight for his fight with Dustin Poirier. Then he got beaten up really, really badly. Then reports came out that Brandao threatened to stab Poirier in the neck ahead of their fight. Now, set for one of the biggest fights of his career, we get to see if all of that craziness was just a fleeting problem in his life, or if he is going to start legitimately unraveling.

    The Question

    So what the heck is going on with Diego Brandao?

    Analysis

    Yeah...I don't know what to make of all that craziness from Brandao surrounding UFC 168. From the moment he was introduced on The Ultimate Fighter 14, it was obvious he was a subject in the same vein as Rousimar Palhares or Thiago Silva, but without the sociopathy. For a long while, it didn't hinder his ability to perform in the cage.

    Has that changed? Again, I don't know but it is most certainly something worth watching out for. It would be a shame to see his career get derailed.

Will Conor McGregor Prove to Be Deserving of the Hype?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Fight: Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao
    The Real Fight: Hype vs. Reality

    The Stakes

    Conor McGregor is one of the UFC's most popular personalities and finds himself headlining his first card...with just two fights to his name. That's amazing when you think about it. However, he absolutely, 100 percent, needs to back up his boastfulness in the cage. Diego Brandao is a tough opponent who will show if McGregor can walk the walk, or if he can only talk the talk.

    The Question

    Will Conor McGregor prove to Be deserving of the hype?

    Analysis

    One of two stories will be told after Fight Night 46. Either McGregor was a flash in the pan with hands unable to cash the checks his mouth wrote, or he is truly the perfect fighter at the perfect time for a UFC that is desperately seeking star power.

    Which will it be?

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