One of things I love most about MMA is the fact that the best fighters in each weight class have no choice but to meet each other in the cage. When I was a kid, before MMA was around I was a big Boxing fan. There were some great match ups back then. Leonard-Hagler, Chavez-Whitaker, Jones-Toney to name a few. The big names used to actually fight back then. Now you have this fiasco which is Mayweather- Pacquiao. If they were in the UFC they would have been finished with a trilogy by now. Granted, there have been some cancellations this year due to injuries. With the way these MMA fighters train and spar there is a high tendency for them to get hurt.
I just want to remind everyone of the great title fights that are scheduled in MMA in the next few months and some other exciting non-title match ups that I am really looking forward to seeing as well.
1- UFC Middleweight Champ Anderson Silva VS #1 Contender Chael Sonnen
This fight takes place this Saturday July 7, 2012 at UFC 148. It will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This is the fight that everyone is talking about right now. It is the rematch of a classic fight that took place at UFC 117 in August 2010. The first fight was had so much anticipation because of the way Sonnen was speaking in a derogatory way about Anderson Silva. He was the first guy to come out and say he was going to take it to Silva. The thing that made this fight so memorable was that Sonnen did just that. For 4 1/2 rounds Sonnen won the stand up, take downs, and basically controlled where there the fight was going. He showed zero fear of Anderson in this fight . Ultimately Silva’s greatness shined through and he submitted Sonnen with a triangle-armbar in the 5th round.
In the months leading up to the rematch it has been more of the same stuff from Sonnen. He has been on numerous MMA podcasts and talk shows and has continued his verbal onslaught against the champ. Just last week Anderson finally had enough. He was on a conference call with MMA journalists and Chael Sonnen when he finally snapped back at Chael with much venom. He said through his interpreter Ed Soares:
“First of all Chael is a criminal. He’s been convicted of crimes. He doesn’t deserve to be inside the Octagon. I am going to break his face and break every one of the teeth in his mouth.”
Then he continued:
“What I’m going to do to inside the octagon is something that’s going to change the image of the sport. I’m going to beat his ass like he’s never been beaten before. I’m going to make sure his arms are broken, his legs are broken. He’s not going to be able to walk out of the octagon by himself. I can guarantee that.”
This was truly out of the blue and Sonnen had no response. Some people think Sonnen is getting into Silva’s head, but I counter by saying is that really a good thing for Chael? We’ll see Saturday night.
2- UFC Welterweight Champ Georges St-Pierre VS UFC Interim Champ Carlos Condit
This fight will take place on November 17, 2012 at UFC 154. It will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
I am anticipating this fight very much. First of all I want there to be one champion once and for all. GSP has been out of action since he beat Jake Shields at UFC 129 in April 2011. He had a severe knee injury. This a horrible injury for any athlete, but for a fighter like GSP who relies so much on his speed and agility it is particularly devastating. He has released several videos of his rehab sessions over the months and it seems like he is progressing well. If any one has the determination to come back even stronger than before it is St-Pierre.
Carlos Condit was a former teammate of George’s down at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque , New Mexico. They weren’t the closest of friends, but there is little doubt that in all the time they spent together there they had to have seen each other train and spar extensively. There is no animosity between the two fighters. It will be interesting to see if Condit will be able to stop GSP’s relentless wrestling attack. If Condit can keep this fight standing as much as possible it will work in his favor. Condit has solid power in both hands as well as wicked knee’s and leg kicks. Again two great fighters facing off for all the marbles.
3- UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones VS #1 Contender Dan Henderson
This fight will take place on September 1, 2012 at UFC 151. It will be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This is a fight I can’t wait to see. It is the classic fight of the wily veteran against the young lion. Dan Henderson had his first pro fight when Jon Jones was 9 years old. He has accomplished so much in this sport both in the UFC and especially over in Japan in Pride. He was the 1st Pride fighter to hold belts in two weight classes at the same time. He is also the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. He never lost that belt either. He gave it up to come back to the UFC and try and win a belt in the one organization that he has not yet succeeded in doing so yet. He poses a unique challenge to Jones. He has the uncanny ability to connect with his big right hand in mostly any fight against any type of challenger. He has never fought a guy as gifted and with the reach of Jon Jones though.
Jones is, in my opinion, on the best streak of any fighter in the world right now. The reason why I say this is because of the 13 month run he had from March 2011- April 2012. He consecutively beat four former UFC light heavyweight champions. They were “Shogun” Rua, “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans. This is remarkable because he also won three of those fights by stoppage. He really is on another level now. Every fight he tries something new that is usually successful. In his last fight against Evans, he used elbow strikes as if they were jabs. His reach and athleticism are his best assets. The biggest question is how he will respond to being rocked by a big shot and there is a good chance he will experience that in this fight.
4- Urijah Faber VS Renan Barao – For The Interim Bantamweight Championship
This fight will take place on July 21, 2012 at UFC 149. It will be held at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This, as we all know, was supposed to be Faber-Cruz 3. Dominic Cruz had to pull out of the fight when he badly tore his ACL. He is expected to miss close to a year and a half of action. So the UFC had no choice but to crown an interim champ for the time being.
Barao has been on a serious roll in his MMA career. His last loss was in his first fight back in 2005. His biggest wins have come in the UFC against Cole Escovedo, Brad Pickett, and Scott Jorgensen. He is a big bantamweight with great striking and submissions. There is no doubting his record even though he hasn’t faced big names because a lot of those fighters down in Brazil are tough as nails. Just because us American fans haven’t heard of them doesn’t mean those guys weren’t dangerous fighters.
Faber on the other hand has fought a bunch of big names both in the UFC and in the WEC. He was the Featherweight champ in the WEC. He has fought Jose Aldo, Mike Brown twice, Dominic Cruz twice, Tyson Griffin, Cole Escovedo, Jens Pulver twice, Bibiano Fernandes, and Ivan Menjivar. That is Faber’s biggest advantage in this fight for sure. Faber has made comments that Barao hasn’t fought top competition before, but to not lose in 7 years in this sport is truly amazing. I think Faber would have had an easier fight against Cruz. This is a fight that is sure to be exciting.
5- UFC Heavyweight Champ Junior Dos Santos VS #1 Contender Cain Velazquez
This fight will take place on September 22, 2012 at UFC 152. It will be held at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This is a rematch from the UFC on Fox 1 card. That fight was a much publicized event that was the first time the UFC aired a fight card on the Fox network. The event was an attempt by the UFC to pull in some casual MMA fans who were on the fence about the sport. Their philosophy was who doesn’t want to see a heavyweight title fight.
This was another case of the UFC pitting two fighters in their prime against each other for a title. Velazquez was the champ at the time. He was coming off of a 13 month absence from the sport due to shoulder surgery. He didn’t look to me like he was in tip-top shape at all, and it showed.
JDS is a young, charismatic Brazilian heavyweight who was a coach on the Ultimate Fighter season 13 opposite Brock Lesnar. He won the first fight with Cain early in the first round by clipping him behind the ear, then when Velazquez dropped he pounced on him and swarmed him with punches until the ref stepped in.
In the 2nd fight I am really interested in seeing if Cain can implement his game plan this time and take down Junior and use his ground and pound abilities to grind out a win. If Dos Santos can win, there are some big fights for him later this year with Daniel Cormier and possibly Alistair Overeem.
6- Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champ Ronda Rousey VS Sarah Kaufman
This fight will take place on August 18, 2012 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California.
Ronda Rousey is without a doubt the most talked about female fighter in the sport today. She only has five fights but already is the champion. There is no secret in her game plan. Try to lock up with you and use her Olympic level Judo to slam you to the mat and then slap on her signature move, the arm bar. So far no one has been able to derail this freight train. When you couple her skill with her good looks you have a star for sure.
Sarah Kaufman is the complete opposite of Ronda when it comes to her fighting style and her fight promoting style as well. While “Rowdy” Ronda likes to get into verbal warfare and stare downs with her opponents before the fight, Sarah goes about her business in a more quiet fashion. Make no mistake though, Kaufman is a killer in the cage. She has engaged in a few brutal fights in her career. She only has one loss to Marloes Coenen, and guess how? By arm bar. She has made it clear though that she will take this fight to Rousey in a way that Ronda hasn’t seen before. Should be fun.
7- Bellator Featherweight Champ Pat Curran VS #1 Contender Patricio Freire
This fight will take place on August 24, 2012 at Bellator 73. It will be held at the Harrah’s Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.
If you have read any of my earlier blogs there is no secret that Pat Curran is one of my favorite fighters right now. He always brings it every fight he is in. He was very competitive at 155 winning the tournament there, but losing by way of decision to former champ Eddie Alvarez. I always say I would love to see him come to the UFC and challenge Jose Aldo. Not saying he would win, but really, you never know.
“Pitbull” Freire is a fierce competitor as well with only one loss on his record. That was to former featherweight champ Joe Warren, who Curran just destroyed to win the strap. This will be a hell of a fight that I am anxiously waiting for. Going to be a good summer for MMA fans.
8- Demetrious Johnson VS Joeseph Benavidez For The First Ever Flyweight Championship
There is no date for this fight announced yet. These two fighters both won the 1st round eliminator fights to reach this title opportunity. Benavidez beat Yasuhiro Urushitani back in March and Johnson had to have two fights with Ian McCall to finally advance to the title fight. The first was a draw and the 2nd time he won by way of unanimous decision.
Benavidez is a very tough guy who’s only losses came at Bantamweight to champ Dominic Cruz in the WEC, and both came by way of decision. Johnson’s only losses came to Cruz as well in a bantamweight title fight and to Brad Pickett by unanimous decision. These two fighters, no matter who wins this fight, will be at the top of this division for a long time to come.
Now for some non-title fights that are scheduled in the next few months that I feel are great match ups for the fans and will go along way in deciding the rankings for future contendership.
9- Hector Lombard (31-2) VS Tim Boetsch (15-4)
Fight is scheduled for the UFC 149 card on July 21, 2012 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Exciting match up of 2 hard-hitting Middleweights who will no doubt be in there to take each others heads off. Rumors are if Lombard wins he might get title shot sooner rather than later. Would love to see him against Anderson Silva.
10-Ben Rothwell (32-8) VS Travis Browne (13-0-1)
Fight is scheduled for the UFC on Fox 4 event on August 4, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Great match up of two fighters who sometimes fly under the radar in the heavyweight title picture. Rothwell coming off a vicious KO of Brendan Schaub and Browne coming off of a submission win over Chad Griggs. The winner of this fight will put himself in the top 5 in my opinion. These are two guys nobody wants to fight right now.
11- Rory MacDonald (13-1) VS BJ Penn (16-8)
This fight is scheduled for September 22, 2012 at UFC 152. It will take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
BJ was enjoying retirement, but the questions kept coming. Not if he was coming back, but when and at what division? At the urging of the UFC, MacDonald issued the challenge to Penn and he accepted answering all the questions in one swoop. Going to be a real interesting fight that most fans are highly anticipating.
12- Max Holloway (5-1) VS Justin Lawrence (4-0)
The fight is scheduled for August 11, 2012 at UFC 150. It will take place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
Ever since I heard this fight was official I thought wow, what a great match up of two young guns who like to strike it out. Holloway is always compared to Anthony Pettis for his flashy moves. I like the way he goes to the body as well. A very mature thing to do for a 20-year-old. Lawrence is coming off of The Ultimate Fighter Live season, where he was the 1st overall pick by coach Dominic Cruz. Can’t wait for this one.
13- Stefan Struve (24-5) VS Stipe Miocic (9-0)
This fight is scheduled for September 29, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV 5. It will be held at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England.
Another legit heavyweight showdown with the winner moving up the ladder to contention. Struve is a little bit higher on the depth chart than Miocic with his wins over Pat Barry, Lavar Johnson, Dave Herman, and Sean McCorkle. Miocic is a hard hitter with a wrestling background. Should be an interesting contest.
14- Mark Munoz (12-2) VS Chris Weidman (8-0)
This fight is scheduled for July 11, 2012 at the UFC on Fuel TV. It will be held at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
This is the main event on this card. A solid match up of two dominant wrestlers who are just coming into their own in MMA. Munoz is the more polished of the two, with his much improved striking game. Weidman, from the Serra-Longo camp in Long Island, NY is a tough kid who has good submissions to go along with his wrestling game.
15- Cung Le (7-2) VS Patrick Cote (17-7)
This fight will take place on the main card of the UFC 148 card on Saturday July 7, 2012. It will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Another classic match up of 2 striking experts who are sure to try to go for the KO in this one. Le was 17-0 as a kick boxer and Cote has 8 of his wins by KO. Cote was giving Anderson Silva a good fight before he had to stop fighting due to an injury. This fight makes this card even more solid in my eyes.
16- Martin Kampmann (20-5) VS Johny Hendricks (13-1)
This fight is scheduled for November 17, 2012 at UFC 154. It will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
This is a #1 contender fight with the winner, as of now fighting the winner of GSP and Carlos Condit. That fight will be on the same card. Kampmann who has been the king of the comebacks lately in his fights. He has really proven how dangerous he is with his KO of Jake Ellenburger and his submission over Thiago Alves . He was in real trouble in both of these fights but found a way to dig deep and pull out the W. Hendricks has been on a roll too with big wins over Josh Koscheck and his devastating KO of Jon Fitch.
17- Paul Sass (13-0) VS Matt Wiman (14-6)
This Fight is also scheduled for that UFC on Fuel TV 5 card in Nottingham, England
Paul Sass is a beast on the ground with 12 of his wins coming by submission. He loves the triangle the most. Wiman is a hard-nosed fighter who is always game no matter who the competitor is. That card is starting to really shape up nicely.
18- Constantinos Philippou (10-2-1NC) VS Riki Fukuda (18-5)
This fight is scheduled on the prelims portion of UFC 148 this Saturday July 7, 2012.
This fight is straight up a match up of 2 rugged dudes. Philippou, who is another Serra-Longo student loves to bang it out. Fukuda is cut from the same cloth. A great fight to help round out the prelims.
19- Eddie Yagin (16-5) VS Dennis Siver (20-8)
This fight is scheduled for September 1, 2012 for UFC 151. Will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Yagin is coming off a decision win over MMA vet Mark Hominick at UFC 145. His face looked like he got the worst of the action, but he delivered the more powerful strikes to win in the judges eyes. Siver is coming off of a unanimous decision win over Diego Nunes at UFC on Fuel TV (Sweden) in his 1st fight after dropping down to 145. For his height I feel this is a good weight class for him.
20- Jamie Varner (20-6) VS Joe Lauzon (21-7)
This fight is scheduled for August 4, 2012 on the UFC on Fox 4 card in Los Angeles, CA.
Originally Lauzon was scheduled to fight Terry Etim in a real submission specialist showdown. Because of an injury, Etim had to pull out of the fight. Enter Jamie Varner. Varner is coming off of a dramatic TKO of rising star Edson Barboza at UFC 146. He also took that fight on short notice. You can bet Dana White and Joe Silva will owe him a few favors. Varner is trying to reestablish himself in the UFC, and a win over Lauzon will surely help with that.
So I hope everyone enjoys this Summer and Autumn. There is a ton of solid MMA on the horizon.