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Five Ounces of Pain on CBS Sports: Top UFC 94 storylines to watch

My latest submission to CBSSports.com is now available by clicking here.

It’s such an interesting time for MMA because so many things are happening behind the scenes and a lot of changes will soon be unfolding. One of those major changes could be set in motion after tonight, as UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn will find himself at a crossroads should he win the UFC welterweight champion from Georges St. Pierre.

The repercussions of a win by Penn is explored in the article, as it will be interesting to see what his next move might be. Will he get on the mic with Joe Rogan after the fight and tell us all that he intends to defend both belts? Will he renounce the lightweight title and take on Thiago Alves? Or, will he defy Dana White’s wishes of not moving past 170 pounds by calling out current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva?

A win by St. Pierre will bring a little more stability to the UFC. A second career victory over Penn makes it likely that he will return in the late-spring or early-summer and defend his belt vs. Alves. The win would also help cement his legacy as not only one of the sport’s current best, but one of MMA’s all-time greatest fighters. I also believe that a win tonight would completely cleanse St. Pierre of his UFC 69 loss to Matt Serra. Sure, most of us have already forgotten the defeat but if he can put Penn away, it will be almost as if UFC 69 never even happened.

But tonight isn’t all about Penn vs. St. Pierre, as the UFC didn’t decide to give us a fight card built around one fight. I think Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva is a very intriguing matchup with a lot at stake. It was also interesting because both received very strong reactions during yesterday’s weigh-in. I now believe that Machida may have some marketing potential just yet. No, he’ll never be Chuck Liddell, but his star could one day rival that of Anderson Silva.

A win tonight by Machida almost forces the UFC to give him a title shot. His style is not crowd pleasing and even apparently prompted Frank Mir to say during yesterday’s MMA Live weigh-in special that he’ll never get a title shot because he lacks marketability. We shall see. Personally, I think Machida wins, gets his title shot, and believe it or not, takes the title.

Those are just a few examples of some of the plotlines for tonight that I explored and in order to read the article in its entirety, just click here.