Each week, ESPN.com MMA writer Brett Okamoto, ESPN Insider senior editor Mike Huang and a special guest panelist tackle five questions that are buzzing in the world of mixed martial arts.
1. What will it take to dethrone Cain Velasquez?
Stipe Miocic: Beat him at his own game. Put the pressure back on him and not get backpedaled. He backpedals guys more than anyone else. You have to put the pressure on him.
Brett Okamoto: A hard punch. It's nearly impossible to envision anyone beating Velasquez over the course of a five-round fight. His pace is too high and he's too good at taking guys down. You've got to crack him and hurt him. And when you do land that punch, you have to have the cardio and defensive wrestling to stay upright and finish the job.
Mike Huang: One very large guy. In all seriousness, at 240 pounds, Velasquez is actually on the smaller side as far as heavyweights go. He has relied on his complete package of quickness, power and endurance to outlast, outwrestle and outstrike his opponents. Is there someone in the heavyweight division who can do that? Not presently. However, as Velasquez returns from injury, should he show ring rust or lack his usual sharpness and brutal pressure, it's entirely possible he gets caught by a lucky shot, a la his only career loss (to Junior dos Santos).
2. Is Matt Brown's win over Erick Silva the leading candidate for Fight of the Year?
Miocic: Oh my god, yeah. I was right there, front row. Those two are warriors. You know Matt Brown and his style. He comes forward and puts so much pressure on you. He's an animal. Then you've got Erick Silva. He dropped Brown twice with the body shots. It was crazy. For Silva to stand up and take all those punches he did, he's an animal, too.
Huang: Not for me. Great fight, but I still have to go with Lawler-Hendricks at UFC 171. Not only was it for the welterweight belt, but that belt hadn't seen a waist that wasn't George St-Pierre's since 2007. That's monumental and so were the performances of Lawler and Hendricks. It was a seesaw battle; we really didn't have a clear victor until late in the fifth round when Lawler simply ran out of gas, not to mention themes of redemption for each fighter. Incredible contest many fans want to see again.
3. Does Tito Ortiz need to retire (again) if he loses Saturday?
Miocic: That's on him. I don't like to speak for other people. Hopefully he does win. It's up to him. He's a legend. He's a veteran. If he thinks he's ready to retire then he should. If not, keep doing it.
Okamoto: The thing about Ortiz is that even though he's 39 and been through his share of injuries, his chin hasn't abandoned him yet. When the chin goes, that's when you really want to see a fighter retire. If he loses, you definitely have to wonder what the point is of him continuing and no one wants to see him get hurt anymore. But if it's a close fight and he comes out of it healthy, he's likely to keep going.
Huang: Yes. Ortiz's refusal to stay retired smacks of those indelible images of our sports greats who simply don't know when to hang it up. Willie Mays, Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice ... You want them to do well, but they simply can't. You know it and so do they. We can only assume -- between Ortiz's personal problems and desire to keep fighting -- he's simply collecting a paycheck. I guess there's nothing wrong with that, just don't expect me or most fans to foot the bill to keep watching a former elite athlete pretend he belongs.
4. Will Dominick Cruz regain the form that saw him lift the UFC bantamweight title?
Miocic: Oh, yeah. I definitely think so. He's got good coaches and he's a hard worker. He'll be back. He's young still. He's got it. He'll be fine. I think it's just been bad luck.
Okamoto: Tough one. As much as I want to focus on the positives (he's only 28, he's one of the hardest workers in the game), I can't. You have to think these injuries affect Cruz more than the average fighter because of his style, which relies on constant (at times, awkward looking) motion. That said, as cliché as it sounds, there is maybe no other fighter in the UFC I would give a better chance at overcoming this than Cruz, because of his work ethic and intelligence.
Huang: No. I think Cruz could have had many title defenses -- his darting, unorthodox style kept opponents off balance and constantly chasing. But that style seems to depend on lots of quickness and bounce and if you've had a torn ACL or major knee injury, both of those qualities are the first to go. In any sport for any athlete, those that depend on speed simply don't age gracefully. Though he's just 28, anyone who's missed this much time with a twice-injured knee, the chances are good there are lingering problems that will continue to plague him and ultimately prevent him from regaining that belt.
5. What has been the greatest moment of Quinton Jackson's career?
Miocic: Good question. I think probably winning the UFC title (against Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 in May 2007). Not many people can do that. He's one of the few. Of course, I also remember that slam in Pride (against Ricardo Arona).
Okamoto: When he unified the UFC light heavyweight and Pride middleweight titles in a win over Dan Henderson in September 2007. It was his greatest achievement and he was at the pinnacle of his game at that time. The best highlight of his career has to be the Arona slam, though.
Huang: Though one would think it was capturing the UFC light heavyweight title from Chuck Liddell at UFC 71, I will never forget his bodyslam of Ricardo Arona at Pride: Critical Countdown 2004. After being taken down, Arona pulled guard on Rampage and subtly attempted a triangle choke. Instead of simply posturing up, Rampage just stood up completely, raising Arona -- who kept his legs locked around Rampage's arm and shoulder -- high up in the air and slammed him to the canvas, knocking Arona out cold. It was brute strength at its purest, and Rampage at his most brutal.