Six weeks. Six weeks with no major MMA events. You probably thought you wouldn’t be hearing from me, right? Not the case, as the virtuous one is here to preview the amazing summer season of MMA events.
We’re all aware of the huge Light Heavyweight Title matchup next month, pitting Jon ‘Bones’ Jones against Rashad Evans, but what about the following months? The UFC wisely chose to not compete with the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament this year, instead opting to launch ‘The Ultimate Fighter Live’ and ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil’. With this large break, plenty of marquee-name fighters will be ready to compete in the summer months, and thankfully so, with events almost weekly.
Let’s look ahead at some of the top matchups, shall we?
(As always, fights are subject to change due to injuries and scheduling conflicts)
MAY 5- UFC on Fox 3
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller- This bout was initially set to be a Lightweight title eliminator fight, before Anthony Pettis was granted a title shot. However, Frankie Edgar will now be receiving a title re-match, which will likely pit the winner of this fight against Pettis.
Zuffa is counting for this fight to be the back and forth war that the ‘UFC on Fox’ series has yet to see.
Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks- To my knowledge, this is the first match up of NCAA division 1 wrestling champions in UFC history. With the Welterweight title not being defended until the fall, a win for each fighter will place them near contention.
MAY 15- UFC on Fuel 2
Dustin Poirier vs. Korean Zombie- With a lack of contenders for Jose Aldo’s featherweight title, this bout is rumored to be a title eliminator. Both Anthony Pettis and Frank Edgar have refused to drop down to the 145 pound weight class, and Hatsu Hioki said he was in no hurry for a title shot. This could be a golden opportunity for both of these fighters.
MAY 19 Strikeforce
Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier- The finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix has major implications for the fighters, Strikeforce, UFC, and Showtime. The winner of this fight will fight once more on Showtime for Strikeforce this year, and both fighters should be absorbed by the UFC.
Also rumored for this card is a title defense for Gil Melendez, and a title fight between Nate Marquardt and Tyron Woodley for the vacant welterweight title. One would think with the lack of star power that Strikeforce has, it would attempt to stretch these fights out, as they plan to put on between 6-8 cards this year.
MAY 26- UFC 146
Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem- The current UFC Heavyweight Champion faces off with the DREAM and Strikeforce Heavyweight champion, and major bombs are to be thrown. Two of the top strikers in the division headline an all-heavyweight main card for UFC 146.
Cain Velasquez vs. Frank Mir- Former UFC champions face off in a likely number one contender’s bout. This poses an interesting matchup, as both have strengths on the ground, and constantly improving stand up.
Other major fights on the card include Roy Nelson vs. Bigfoot Silva, Gabe Gonzaga vs. Shane Del Rosario, and Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve. The UFC has opted to keep most heavyweights on a similar schedule, which seems to be a genius move, due to the inconsistency of the division.
JUNE 1- The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale
Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Ellenberger- As I mentioned earlier, it appears as if neither the Welterweight or Interim title will be defended until November, these two are set to throw down on free television. Ellenberger is on a tear, and a win would solidify him as the top contender in the division, but Martin Kampmann can compete with any welterweight in the world
JUNE 8- UFC on FX 3-
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall II- Oh boy. A great fight, soaked in controversy, this flyweight tournament semi-final has a rematch scheduled for June. Initially, Johnson was declared the winner, and even appeared as such on the official scorecard, but alas, due to some Australian athletic commission goof up, was a draw. This is surely to be another barnburner, and is well-deserved as a main event.
JUNE 22- UFC on FX 4
Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard- A huge main event for a free card, fan-favorite Clay Guida faces Gray Maynard, who is fresh off of two UFC Lightweight Title shots. I wouldn’t place either of these near title contention , but both are still relevant, capable lightweights.
JUNE 23- UFC 147 RIO
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II- Easily the most anticipated rematch in MMA history, this fight is two years in the making. Prior to the first bout, many thought Sonnen’s trash talk was done to simply sell the fight, and he didn’t have the talent to back it up. All of that nonsense was proven wrong, as we were treated to a classic moment in MMA history.
Anderson Silva survived as UFC Middleweight Champion, despite a serious rib injury, and Chael Sonnen faced suspensions due to testosterone replacement surgery. Will any of these play a role in the biggest re-match in UFC history?
Wanderlei Silva vs. Vitor Befort II- Another rematch, this one 14 years in the making. Vitor Belfort famously dominated the first bout, and now the two Brazilian icons will face off again. Currently coaching season one of ‘The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil’,these two have similar skill sets, and positive attitudes towards the fight game. I wouldn’t expect this fight to go all three rounds.
JULY 7 UFC 148
Dominick Cruz vs. Urijiah Faber III- Another re-match featuring ‘Ultimate Fighter’ coaches will be the UFC Bantamweight Title fight. This, the rubber match in the series, is sure to be as exciting as last year’s title fight. I’d expect to see the winner take on Renan Barao, who also fights on this card.
Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le- A couple of aging fighters looking to keep their place in the division, this fight has been rumored to be Franklin’s last. Franklin, the former UFC Middleweight Champion, looks to stop the refined striking of Cung Le, the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.
Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin III- Another rubber match, and Tito Ortiz’s retirement fight. Not much more can be said about these former Light Heavyweight champions.
Tim Boetsch vs. Michael Bisping- Both coming off of impressive performances with different results, the winner of this fight will be squarely placed among the top in a currently shallow pool of middleweight contenders.
JULY 21- UFC 149
Jose Aldo vs. TBA- While the opponent has yet to be announced, I would expect Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo’s opponent to be Japanese legend Hatsu Hioki. If the Poirier/Korean Zombie fight ends in impressive fashion, all of this could change, however.
Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman- Two tough Middleweight talents are planned to fight this summer as well. However, it has yet to be determined whether this fight will take place at UFC 149, or on UFC on Fox 4.
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