5 Questions for a Big Event Weekend: UFC 101 and WEC 42

By Jake Rossen Aug 8, 2009

If you don’t get answers to these questions by 1 a.m. on Monday morning, call and ask for a refund from your cable company. I’m sure they’ll understand.

Anderson Silva can deal with Forrest Griffin’s striking. But can he deal with his size?

Stranger things and all that, but it is unlikely the muscular striking style of Forrest Griffin will prove to be much of an issue for Anderson Silva, who practices muay Thai like it’s his religion. If this becomes a kickboxing match, Griffin will find himself having lots of time to learn what brand and wattage of bulb the house lights use.

But if he can bully Silva into the fence and force the middleweight champion into wasting energy in scrambles, carrying Griffin’s weight, he may find himself on the proper end of a decision. Silva is not a small 185 lb. athlete, but Griffin -- who has actually seen a scale hit 250 lbs. more than once in his life -- is more mechanically dense. Size matters.

Can Miguel Torres pick up where Urijah Faber left off?

For a promotion still struggling to adopt an identity even after UFC parent company Zuffa ran off with it, Urijah Faber was as good as the flannel guy on the Bounty towels: marketable, talented, and dominant. Then Mike Thomas Brown happened.

While a solid ratings attraction for the Versus network, the WEC has yet to find itself in a position to begin a premium pay-television attack. Their focus on lighter-weight fighters has led to lighter-weight attention. Riding a 17-fight winning streak and able to corral the Spanish-language market, Miguel Torres -- who fights Brian Bowles on Sunday -- will either take over Faber’s responsibilities as figurehead or cement the idea that the general public just doesn’t care about the small guys.

Will UFC 100’s record business offer residual success?

Per Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer, the pay-television take of July 11’s UFC 100 event might be in the neighborhood of 1.7 million buys. If true, it would incinerate previous totals and prompt both boxing and professional wrestling to begin staring sheepishly at their loafers.

What we should find out with the eventual business results of 101 is whether a percentage of customers who had never purchased a UFC event prior to the anniversary show will want to stick around. If this card is able to pull off an impressive number despite a lack of high-caliber drawing power, Dana White’s proposition of global domination will seem increasingly less far-fetched.

Can Javier Vazquez become a 145 lb. threat -- again?

Celebrated for gutting out a 2003 war against Alberto Crane after tearing his ACL early in the fight, Javier Vazquez left fighting because of too much pain and too little reward. A 2009 comeback hasn’t made up for much: opponent Din Thomas dropped out of a June show, and in July Vazquez got a call telling him a bout with LC Davis was scrapped along with Affliction’s entire promotional franchise.

Now the WEC has picked up the Vazquez/Davis fight intact, and talk will inevitably turn toward whether the jiu-jitsu expert has the tools to pose a threat to that promotion’s deep 145 lb. division.

Is B.J. Penn doing the right thing?

Penn has admitted on repeated occasions that he is the director of his own movie, and that no one has the cache or job description to tell him what to do. Training in Hawaii, he might be the best guy in the room on any given day. Contrast this with Georges St. Pierre, who -- when he wants to wrestle -- climbs into a ring with Rashad Evans.

For Kenny Florian, Penn has traveled to California and enlisted the help of Marv Marinovich, a somewhat infamous strength and conditioning coach to NFL athletes. This follows a round of testing last year with Mackie Shilstone, a world-renowned fitness authority who helped Michael Spinks and Roy Jones Jr. put on proper mass for higher-weight bouts. (Penn elected not to stay in New Orleans under Shilstone’s guidance.)

Whatever you think of his training regimen, “consistent” is not the word that should come immediately to mind. While hiring Marinovich is an interesting addition, you have to wonder if Penn’s thoughts of grandeur -- he has, at various points, wanted to fight Wanderlei Silva and Ken Shamrock -- are up to the task of competing at 155 lbs. and against a man who doesn’t possess the adoptive legacy of a St. Pierre.

The biggest question mark is the one Penn dangles over his own head.
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