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UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Silva Results and Wrap Up

May 27, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It wasn’t the most highly anticipated card of the year, but it was an entertaining one nonetheless last night from Las Vegas. In the main event and co-main event of the evening, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos both proved why they are the top of the heap in the Heavyweight division, with each man earning impressive stoppage victories over their opponents.

In other main card action Donald Cerrone battered and bloodied KJ Noons, giving him a rude welcoming to the UFC in a bout that left the octagon covered in blood. Canadian Lightweight TJ Grant continued his career resurgence since dropping from 170-pounds, as he blitzed former title challenger Gray Maynard in the first round, to earn a TKO victory and a title shot against Benson Henderson. In the other main card bout streaking Brazilian prospect Glover Teixeira earned a first round submission over James Te Huna.

Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone defeated KJ Noons via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Finally, a game plan from Donald Cerrone. Cerrone had every move of Noons’ well scouted and was prepared to counter at every opportunity. Hell, he even used a number of takedowns throughout the fight to control the action on the mat. In the end both men were bloodied, but Noons was significantly more battered and bruised as Cowboy took a clear cut decision.

What’s next for Cerrone? Some people mentioned Josh Thomson as a possible foe, but apparently Thomson is pretty close to getting a title shot himself and I doubt Cerrone is at that level yet. I think a bout with Diego Sanchez makes a lot of sense for Cowboy. The other and possibly more intriguing option is to pair him up with Rafael dos Anjos.

What’s next for Noons? Probably finding a new job. He’s a tough fighter and he loves to bang, so there’s always the chance that the UFC keeps him around. But his contract in Strikeforce was pretty hefty and he’s not going to be sniffing a title shot in the UFC. If they keep him around a bout against someone like Tim Means or a rematch with Ryan Couture could be the way to go.

Lightweight Bout: TJ Grant defeated Gray Maynard via TKO (Punches) at 2:07 of Round One

These two guys came out looking to trade heavy leather and they did. Grant ate a few big shots from Maynard, but mostly shrugged them off before landing a big shot that hurt Maynard. From there he absolutely swarmed Maynard, not giving him any room to recover and pounded out a first round TKO.

What’s next for Grant? That’s easy, a bout against UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. Dana White said before the fight this was a title eliminator and he wasn’t changing his tune after this impressive performance. The rumor is that this fight could headline the first UFC on Fox Sports 1 card.

What’s next for Maynard? He’s teased retirement in the past, so I guess that’s always on the table. But athletes like that seem driven to compete, so I think he will. There are two match ups that I’d like to see the UFC go after, first of all a bout with Nate Diaz in a rematch from their bout on The Ultimate Fighter season 5. The other is a bout against the man who can’t win a decision, Evan Dunham.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira defeated James Te-Huna via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:38 of Round One

Teixeira wasted no time in this bout and he appeared as though he wanted nothing to do with Te Huna’s power striking game. He instantly shot for a takedown and even after it was stuffed, knocked off a few punches, before shooting again. Once he got this fight to the floor, it was excellent grappling displayed by Teixeira as he transitioned quickly. Te Huna tried to scramble to his feet, but Teixeira quickly snagged the neck and tightened the guillotine choke for a quick submission.

What’s next for Teixeira? After the fight his manager was calling for the winner of the upcoming UFC 161 main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans, which is probably an excellent fight to get him ready for a title shot. I’d like to see the UFC take a different route with him though, and give him the winner of the Mauricio Rua – Lil’ Nog bout from the same card. Throw it as a main event in Brazil, and I think that’s a winner.

What’s next for Te Huna? Clearly that was too big of a step up in completion for him to handle. He’s a powerful striker who can knock anybody cold, so he’s a dangerous outing for anyone and he’s someone the UFC is going to want to keep around. I’d like to see him face a capable grappler in his next fight, which means he could fight Vinny Magalhaes. Ovince St. Preux could also be a good challenge, but that might be too much of a drop in competition for Te Huna.

Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos defeated Mark Hunt via KO (Spinning Heel Kick) at 4:18 of Round Three

Junior dos Santos had a relatively easy path to victory if he decided to use his wrestling and take Mark Hunt down. Instead he chose to bang it out with one of the most dangerous Heavyweight strikers in the UFC and mostly dominated him. He dropped him with a big shot in the first round, but Hunt survived. He continued to pressure him as the fight went on, and in the third round as Hunt was getting noticeably fatigued, he went of the kill. An impressive spinning heel kick dropped Hunt and follow up punches sealed the deal for dos Santos.

What’s next for dos Santos? UFC President Dana White and many fans are already calling for dos Santos-Velasquez 3, and it’s hard to argue with them. Still I’d prefer that they give that fight a bit of time to settle and let each guy get another win. Still waiting can be dangerous as the UFC has learned with Alistair Overeem. So I suspect this is the next fight for each man. If I were the UFC I’d put this one on the debut for Fox Sports 1, they delivered on Fox, they can surely do it again.

What’s next for Hunt? He’ll probably fight the loser of the upcoming bout between Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne. Another fight that would make sense would be to have him fight Antonio Silva, who lost in the main event to the champion. The winner of that fight would get a decent bump up in contendership. Either of those fights I wouldn’t mind seeing.

UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout: Cain Velasquez defeated Antonio Silva via TKO (Punches) at 1:21 of Round One

Cain shot for a takedown, it got stuffed. He faked a takedown and landed a one-two directly on Silva’s chin and followed it up with punches, that was about all she wrote. The stoppage may have been a bit early if you ask me, but I don’t think the result was ever in doubt. After the fight Silva also complained that many of the shots that landed were illegal and hit him in the back of the head, which is probably a valid complaint as well as I counted at least two that landed in a dangerous area on the back of his neck. Still like I said, this one wasn’t ever in doubt.

What’s next for Velasquez? Seemingly a trilogy fight with Junior dos Santos. As I already mentioned, I’d like to see both guys take another fight to let this settle out a bit, but who knows. If they do, a fight for Cain against the winner of the upcoming Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would be a good choice. But it’s more likely he’s fighting dos Santos. That’s the money fight, which is likely what the UFC wants.

What’s next for Silva? Big foot got a bit lucky to get this title shot so quickly, but it’s way down the ladder for him now. There are a few potential match ups but none of them seem to have the perfect fit. So I’ll just list some names off and you can decide for yourself which you’d like to see. Frank Mir coming off the loss to Daniel Cormier, Mark Hunt coming off of his loss to dos Santos, Josh Barnett making his UFC debut after a loss to Daniel Cormier or Stefan Struve coming off of the loss to Mark Hunt.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual: The Muay Thai Clinch, Takedowns, Takedown Defense, and Ground Fighting

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Silva Predictions and Analysis

May 24, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is back on Pay Per View this weekend and once again the Heavyweights are the main attraction. The UFC’s Heavyweight title is on the line in the main event as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva gets a second crack at reigning UFC champion Cain Velasquez. The co-main event was expected to feature a grudge match between former champion Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, however an injury forced Overeem to withdraw from the event and he was subsequently replaced by surging New Zealand-based banger Mark Hunt.

UFC 160 takes place live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday night. In other main card action Gray Maynard and TJ Grant will scrap it out for a UFC Lightweight title shot against Benson Henderson. Surging Light Heavyweights will collide when Brazil’s Glover Teixeira fights New Zealand’s James Te Huna. The opening bout of the main card is sure to deliver fireworks as noted striker Donald Cerrone battles Strikeforce import KJ Noons.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Jeremy Stephens vs. Estevan Payan

Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens is a 26-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. Stephens is a fairly capable grappler, but he prefers to stand and trade with most of his opponents. Stephens trains with Alliance MMA in San Diego, California. He holds a professional record of 20-9. Estevan “El Terrible” Payan is a 31-year-old fighter from Tempe, Arizona. Payan is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym in his hometown. He holds a professional record of 14-3 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Jeremy Stephens via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Brian Bowles vs. George Roop

Brian Bowles is a 32-year-old fighter from Charleston, West Virginia. Bowles is a former WEC Bantamweight Champion who holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bowles is a member of The Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia, but also spends time with the American Top Team. He holds a career record of 10-2. George Roop is a 31-year-old fighter from Tucson, Arizona. Standing at 6’1” tall he is one of the largest fighters in the Bantamweight division. He is a member of the Apex MMA Gym in his hometown. He holds a career record of 13-9-1.

Quick Pick: Brian Bowles via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Stephen Thompson vs. Nah-Shon Burrell

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a 30-year-old fighter from Simpsonville, South Carolina. A former professional kick boxer with a perfect record, he entered the UFC with a ton of hype, but lost some of that shine with a tough loss to Matt Brown. He is a member of the Pitch Black MMA Team in South Carolina. He holds a professional MMA record of 6-1. Nah-Shon “The Rock-n-Rolla” Burrell is a 23-year-old fighter who recently made his way to the UFC from Strikeforce. He is a member of the Fight Firm Gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Burrell holds a professional record of 9-2.

Quick Pick: Stephen Thompson via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Abel Trujillo

Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is a 24-year-old Russian fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. He now resides and trains in the USA in Fairfield, New Jersey with the AMA Fight Club and the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Nurmagomedov holds a perfect professional record of 19-0, including a 3-0 mark in the UFC. Abel “Killa” Trujillo is a 29-year-old fighter from Greensboro, North Carolina. Trujillo trains with the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida. Trujillo holds a professional record of 10-4.

Quick Pick: Khabib Nurmagomedov via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith vs. Robert Whittaker

Colton Smith is a 25-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. An active member of the US Armed Forces, he is most notable as the winner of the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Vanguard Fight Team in Fort Hood, Texas. Smith holds a career record of 3-1. Robert Whittaker is a 22-year-old fighter from Menai, New South Wales, Australia. Whittaker was the winner of the Welterweight tournament on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. He is a member of the PMA Super Martial Arts Gym in New South Wales. He holds a career record of 10-2.

Quick Pick: Colton Smith via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Max Holloway

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is a 26-year-old fighter from Saugerties, New York. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who trains with the Long Island MMA Gym in Lindenhurst, New York. He was a competitor and the runner up on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bermudez holds a career record of 10-3. “Blessed” Max Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waianae, Hawaii and is notable as the youngest fighter on the UFC’s current roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in Hawaii. He holds a career record of 7-1.

Quick Pick: Dennis Bermudez via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. Rick Story

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is a 37-year-old veteran fighter from Dresden, Tennessee. Pyle has been fighting professionally since 1999 and has fought for a number of major MMA promotions. He is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a professional record of 24-8-1. Rick “The Horror” Story is a 28-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Story is a member of the Brave Legion Gym in Vancouver, Washington. Story holds a professional MMA record of 15-6.

Quick Pick: Rick Story via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. K.J. Noons

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a 30-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cerrone is a tough and well-rounded fighter who is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cerrone is a former professional kick boxer and is a well-rounded striker. Cerrone is also a talented grappler, although most of the time he prefers to trade with his opponents. He is one of the top fighters in the Lightweight division but has constantly come up short in title eliminator bouts. He holds a professional record 20-5.

KJ “The King” Noons is a 30-year-old fighter from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. He is a former professional boxer and kick boxer and holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate. Noons is a member of The Arena Gym in San Diego, California. Noons has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including ICON Sport, Elite XC, Dream and most recently Strikeforce. He is an exciting fighter who loves to brawl, which probably explains why the UFC is bringing him into the promotion despite losing 4 of his last 5 bouts. Noons holds a professional record of 11-6.

Analysis and Prediction: Noons is a talented and technically sound boxer, but he’s struggled against the more versatile and dynamic strikers that he’s faced throughout his career. Cerrone will certainly be aware of this and will look to use his kicks to his advantage. A more complete kick boxer and with a 3-inch reach advantage, Cerrone is also the more talented grappler. I think Cerrone plays this one safe and uses leg kicks and well-timed takedowns to control the pace of this fight, before snagging a late submission. Donald Cerrone via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Gray Maynard vs. TJ Grant

Gray “The Bully” Maynard is a 34-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. Maynard was a competitor on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Michigan State University. Maynard is a former member of the Xtreme Couture Gym but has recently changed his training camp and is now a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Maynard is one of the top fighters in the Lightweight division, most known for his trilogy of fights with Frankie Edgar. Maynard holds a career record of 12-1-1 with 1 No Contest.

TJ Grant is a 29-year-old fighter from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grant is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a talented grappler. He is a former Welterweight fighter who dropped to the Lightweight division in 2011. Since that drop he has gone 4-0 over increasingly difficult competition. Grant is a member of the Fit Plus Gym in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Grant has shown increased striking proficiency in his last few bouts, becoming more and more content to slug it out with his opponents. Grant holds a career record of 20-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Maynard is a smothering wrestler who has some of the best top control in the Lightweight division. His striking is somewhat slow and unrefined, but it’s been getting better since his switch to AKA and he packs a hell of a punch. Grant may be a better grappler, but he’s not going to be able to scramble underneath Maynard. Grant’s best bet comes in attempting to counter the wild, winging punches of Maynard and outwork him on the feet. If he’s successful at that, I think Maynard will revert to what he knows best, power double leg takedowns. It’s a close fight, but I think Maynard controls the action on the mat just enough to earn the judge’s nod. Gray Maynard via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna

Glover Teixeira is a 33-year-old fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Despite being Brazilian, he now resides and trains in the United States as a member of The Pit Fight Team in San Luis Obispo, California and as a member of the Black House Gym in California. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also has excellent wrestling skills allowing him to get the action to the ground if he ever gets in trouble standing. He was originally scheduled to face Ryan Bader at this event, but Bader was forced to withdraw due to injury. Teixeira holds a career record of 20-2.

James Te Huna is a 31-year-old fighter from Darfield, New Zealand. Te Huna is a member of the Pirtek Athletic Allstars Gym in Sydney, Australia. He is taking this bout as an injury replacement for Ryan Bader. Te Huna is a highly aggressive striker with big time power in both of his hands. Earlier in his career he fought for the CFC (a top Australian promotion) and won the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Te Huna is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and his lone UFC loss came to top contender Alexander Gustafsson. Te Huna’s professional record is 16-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Teixeira is a significant favorite heading into this bout and that’s deservedly so. Still, in his bout against Rampage Jackson, he showed some weaknesses. Most notable was his wild, looping punches. Rampage was too tired and outworked to take advantage, but Teixeira will need to watch out against Te Huna, because the Australian has the power to flick off his lights with one big punch. Teixeira is an intelligent fighter, so I think it’s likely he takes Te Huna down early and often. On the ground he has a huge advantage and I think he exploits it. Late in the first he scores a takedown and grounds and pounds his way to a submission opening, either via Arm Triangle choke or Rear Naked Choke. Glover Teixeira via Submission in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt

Junior “Cigano” dos Santos is a 29-year-old fighter from Cacador, Brazil. He is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and is widely considered the number two Heavyweight in the world. Dos Santos is a talented boxer with big power and fast hands. Dos Santos is a member of Team Nogueira, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Yuri Carlton. Dos Santos has excellent hand speed and until his last bout against Cain Velasquez had dominated every fighter that he had ever faced. In some of his more recent bouts he has shown improvements in his wrestling and grappling skills, taking down accomplished grapplers and wrestlers like Shane Carwin and Frank Mir. He holds a career record of 15-2.

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt is a 39-year-old fighter from South Auckland, New Zealand. Hunt is a former professional kick boxer, who competed in K-1 and was the winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix. Hunt is a former Super Heavyweight fighter who is known for his strong chin and knockout power. Hunt trains at the Oceania Super Fight Gym in New South Wales, Australia and the American Top Team in the US. Despite struggling in the middle of his career, Hunt is currently on a four-fight winning streak. He holds a professional MMA record of 9-7.

Analysis and Prediction: Dos Santos is an accomplished striker and has big time power, but Hunt has been knocked out only by the biggest power punchers in the sport, making a pure knockout seem unlikely. Still dos Santos should be able to avoid the big power shots of Hunt and outwork him on the feet. But any time Hunt is standing, he’s a live underdog, so the best bet for dos Santos would be to take Hunt down to the ground and work his grappling game against Hunt. 6 of Hunt’s 7 MMA losses are via submission, so if dos Santos is at all competent on the mat, it’s hard to think he won’t snatch a submission after ground and pounding away at a fatigued Hunt. Junior dos Santos via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva

Cain Velasquez is a 30-year-old fighter from Salinas, California though he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Velasquez is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and is also the reigning and defending champion. Velasquez is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez trains at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California where he trains with friend and fellow Heavyweight standout Daniel Cormier. Velasquez is a very well rounded fighter with strong kickboxing, excellent grappling skills and extraordinary cardio. Velasquez holds a career record of 11-1, with the lone loss coming against Junior dos Santos.

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva is a 33-year-old fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. He is a former Super Heavyweight fighter and has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including Cage Rage, Bodog Fight, EliteXC, Sengoku and Strikeforce. Silva is a tough and well-rounded fighter who holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Karate. Silva is a member of the Black House Gym in Brazil and also trains with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Silva is coming off of one of the biggest wins of his career when he completed a third round knockout of Alistair Overeem in a comeback of the year performance. Silva holds a professional record of 18-4, including a previous career loss to Velasquez at UFC 146.

Analysis and Prediction: After the one-sided beat down that Velasquez put on Silva in their last bout, it was hard to imagine they would be fighting again so quickly, almost a year later to the day. In that first bout Velasquez swarmed Silva immediately, taking him down and throwing elbow that opened a massive cut on Silva’s forehead and simply battering the bloodied Bigfoot en-route to a first round stoppage. Silva is certainly going to be wary of seeing a similar game plan from the champion come Saturday night.

That’s all well and good, but I doubt it’s going to mean a whole lot. Against Overeem, Silva was less than impressive. In the first two rounds, FightMetric stats show Silva landed only 7 Significant Strikes at a less than 30% accuracy clip before Overeem left his hands down and his chin out, opening the door for a big comeback. Against Velasquez who is far less arrogant and far more intelligent defensively than Overeem, there’s not going to be an opening like that.

I expect a very similar fight to the first one. Velasquez might not land the big elbow that turns the fight into an instant bloodbath, but the result is likely going to be the same. Silva hits like a truck, so if he can time Velasquez on the way in, there’s a decent chance he can earn a knockout, but if dos Santos couldn’t time Velasquez on the way in, I don’t think a slow, plodding fighter like Silva can do it. This one gets wrapped within a round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round One

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual: The Muay Thai Clinch, Takedowns, Takedown Defense, and Ground Fighting

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 2013 Spring/Summer Events Preview

April 18, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

As the UFC schedule continues to roll along at breakneck speeds, MMA fans should be gearing up for an action-packed Spring-Early summer schedule as the world’s leading promotion has a number of events scheduled over the next few months. In this blog we’ll take a look at a schedule of the upcoming cards and highlight the fighters and fights to watch out for. Before we get started, I should point out the usual UFC disclaimer that all fight cards are scheduled to change, and if the past is any indication, there could be a number of these cards shuffled, main events scrapped or changed as fighters become injured.

APRIL

Event: UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

Date: April 20, 2013

Venue: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California

The first stop on our preview takes us to the Sunshine State of California where Benson Henderson will once again defend his UFC Lightweight title on free television. He’ll welcome Striekforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez to the UFC in a match between two champions. The co-main event will see debut of Heavyweight star Daniel Cormier as he makes his UFC debut by taking on former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir. A lightweight scrap that seems destined for Fight of the Night honors is also on tap as Nate Diaz battles Strikeforce import Josh Thompson. Recently debuted Jordan Mein fresh off his impressive stoppage of Dan Miller at UFC 158 replaces injured Dan Hardy to take on the surging Matt Brown.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thompson or Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama

Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen

Date: April 27, 2013

Venue: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey

Grudge match? Says who? If you watched the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter you certainly wouldn’t think that these two men were bitter rivals preparing for a huge battle against each other. While I’m sure the UFC was banking on fireworks and trash talk, Jones and Sonnen remained mostly courteous and calm when dealing with each other during the show. Trash talk will certainly ramp up as the show ends and Sonnen goes into full on promotion mode. The co-main event of the evening features another grudge match as Middleweight sluggers Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher are set to square off. Also featured on the main Pay Per View card is a Heavyweight fight between Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo, a Light Heavyweight bout between Phil Davis and Vinny Magalhaes and a Lightweight bout between Jim Miller and Pat Healy.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher or Erik Perez vs. Johnny Bedford

MAY

Event: UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold

Date: May 18, 2013

Venue: Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil

The UFC returns to one of it’s new favorite destinations as they head to Brazil for yet another summer card on FX. The main event is a highly intriguing bout between Brazilian MMA pioneer Vitor Belfort and the final Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold. Both men are well known for their striking prowess, so I would expect that the majority of this bout will take place on the feet, at least until someone gets knocked out. The co-main event of the evening features 2 more rising stars in the Middleweight division as Constantios Philippou looks to continue his winning streak against debuting Strikeforce veteran Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. That bout will certainly be an interesting styles-clash pitting the powerful boxing of Philippou against the top-level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of Souza. Other main card bouts include Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham in a potential Lightweight thriller and Chris Camozzi battling Rafael Natal in Middleweight action.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham or Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold

Event: UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

Date: May 25, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

Heavyweight action is on the docket for the UFC’s return to Las Vegas. Although the main event is a rematch that no one was really asking for, it’s nice to see a title bout where the challenger actually earns his shot. Something that Antonio Silva did by smashing former number one contender Alistair Overeem. Speaking of Overeem he was expected to battle Junior dos Santos in a Heavyweight grudge match in the co-main event, but an injury to him has seen him replaced by former K-1 kickboxer Mark Hunt. Other main card action sees Glover Teixeira trying to continue his run up the Light Heavyweight rankings as he battles hard-hitting James Te-Huna. A pair of Lightweight bouts round off the main card in what could both be potential Fight of the Night award winners. First off Donald Cerrone battles Strikeforce import KJ Noons in a battle between two guys who love to stand and trade. The second is a bout between fringe contenders in the Lightweight division TJ Grant and Gray Maynard.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Prediction: Donald Cerrone vs. KJ Noons or Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Abel Trujillo

JUNE

Event: UFC on Fuel TV 10: Nogueira vs. Werdum

Date: June 8, 2013

Venue: Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil

This event will serve as the finale for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Head coaches for the season are Heavyweights Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum, those two men will square off in the main event with a potential title shot likely looming for the victor. The card will feature the finals of the Welterweight season of the show. Other main card bouts scheduled for the show include Light Heavyweights Thiago Silva taking on former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Cavalcante and Welterweight young guns Erick Silva and John Hathaway.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Erick Silva vs. John Hathaway or Thiago Silva vs. Rafael Cavalcante

Event: UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland

Date: June 15, 2013

Venue: MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The UFC makes its debut in Winnipeg as they head to the MTS Centre, the home of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. The card features a main event for the UFC’s Interim Bantamweight Championship as Renan Barao defends his title against former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland. A throwback to the golden days of PRIDE is also planned for the co-main event as Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira rematch in Light Heavyweight action. Former Light Heavyweight Champions do battle when Rashad Evans battles Dan Henderson. A women’s Bantamweight bout will open the Pay Per View event as Rosi Sexton battles Alexis Davis. Heavyweight action rounds out the main PPV card as Pat Barry battles Shawn Jordan.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Mauricio Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland

JULY & BEYOND

Event: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Date: July 6, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Spider finally returns to the octagon, as Anderson Silva is set to defend his Middleweight title in the main event against undefeated challenger Chris Weidman. Weidman is an interesting style match up for the champion and that combined with his undefeated professional record has many people interested in this bout. The co-main event of the night has fireworks written all over it as top Featherweight contenders Chan Sung Jung and Ricardo Lamas do battle for a shot at the UFC Featherweight Championship. Middleweight scrappers Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch will look to get their octagon careers back on the right track against one another. More top Featherweight contenders will be in action as Frankie Edgar looks for his first victory in his new weightclass when he battled Charles Oliveira. In the opening bout of the Pay Per View Featherweight sluggers Cub Swanson and Dennis Siver will lock horns.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: There are just way too many on this card. Without exception all of the fights on the PPV card could be potential Fight of the Night candidates, some of them maybe even Fight of the Year candidates. Since that’s a bit of a cop out, I’ll take Siver vs. Swanson as my pick.

Event: UFC on Fox 8

Date: July 27, 2013

Venue: Key Arena in Seattle Washington

Currently the only bout announced for this card is a bout between struggling Lightweights Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig. I don’t suspect those two will even earn a spot on the Fox card by the time this event fills up, especially with the way the UFC has been stacking these cards recently. I would expect to see a title defended in the main event. The leading contender is probably the Flyweight title, provided that champion Demetrious Johnson can recover from his injury in time.

Event: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Pettis

Date: August 3, 2013

Venue: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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UFC Signs Two Big Heavyweight Fights For UFC 160

February 12, 2013 By: Category: UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is gearing up for another top heavyweight May event. A new report indicates that the UFC will roll out its two biggest heavyweight fights on deck for the event which should set the table for the remainder of 2013 in the heavyweight division at UFC 160.

Dave Meltzer reports on his latest F4Wonline.com podcast that while the UFC aren’t committing to another all-heavyweight card, they are coming back with heavyweight headliners for their May event. If all things go as planned the event will see a rematch one year in the making with a lot more at stake than was in their previous battle.

Cain Velasquez will likely defend the UFC heavyweight title against Antonio Bigfoot Silva in the main-event. I have to admit that this surprised me. I’ll give the UFC a lot of credit here. The fight certainly isn’t what’s best for business right now. Yet the UFC finally do what’s right and give a guy a title shot who by all rights just earned one.

That said, I don’t know how much interest there is in this fight. I love a rematch but not when a guy obliterated his opponent in their first fight. Velasquez’s massacre of Silva in 2012 has gone down in UFC history as one of the most brutal and impressive wins. Silva does have the KO over Overeem but it wasn’t like he was real impressive earlier in the fight. I like the fight in that it’s credible when it comes to the title and for that I’ll watch.

The co-headliner is the fight that is likely to draw the crowd that night. Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos will finally settle their grudge if the UFC has its way. Overeem and JDS were scheduled to fight last May for the title before Overeem got suspended for a positive PED test. Both fighters have talked a lot of trash for the last year. This is a ready-made grudge fight that has the potential to do big business thanks to fighter promotion.

I really like that the table will be set for the rest of the year with this card. Other than a long, boring decision, the Overeem vs. Dos Santos fight will determine a number one contender. I know a lot of people had fun with Overeem losing the million dollar fight against Cain but if Overeem can finish JDS, I don’t think there will be any money lost if he gets Cain next.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of wiggle room here if things don’t go as planned such as an injury to the Overeem vs. JDS winner or a long, boring fight. Overeem and Dos Santos are it when it comes to viable contenders. Quite frankly I’d bet even with a loss their next win would put them right back to the front of the line due to the lack of depth at the top of the division.

The division desperately needs Jon Jones to make the move to heavyweight by the end of 2013. If things go right, you can have the next title fight in December along with Jones’ heavyweight debut. I’d rush Jones to the title but at least you can let things simmer for 2014 this way. Without Jones moving up the division is in for a lean year in 2013 at this rate.

Keep in mind that none of these fights are actually signed yet and all are in negotiations. Anything can change but as of now the plan for UFC 160 is in full motion.

Update: The fights are now official!

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Don’t Count Out Alistair Overeem Just Yet

February 08, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The sky is falling, the sky is falling is how the MMA media described Alistair Overeem’s stunning loss to Bigfoot Silva at UFC 156. Yet a closer look at MMA history shows that the drama was nothing more than a big overreaction by fans and media.

I love certain members of the MMA media (and this goes in all sports to be fair) who are ready to predict the demise of a fighter over one loss. While nobody went as far as to predict the end of Alistair Overeem, many in the media and in social media proclaimed that the UFC lost millions of dollars with the loss. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but that is something hardly confirmed with one shocking upset.

You need to follow certain writers or social media members to get a handle on it but it was clear right away who the haters and the fans were. The haters were the ones who have criticized Overeem since he walked into the UFC and crushed Brock Lesnar in 2011. These are the same haters who criticized Overeem even before that for his massive gains in size and favorable schedule. These are the same critics who wanted to see Overeem fail and had one hand on the keyboard and a big smile on their face waiting to type about the over-hyped UFC heavyweight. In other words these are hardly what I’d call objective opinions.

The idea that a guy could lose one fight and all of the sudden lose all of his marketability is preposterous. Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, and countless others have lost fights and either not lost a thing at the box office or wound up drawing more money at some point after suffering their first loss in the UFC. Anyone predicting the end of Overeem as big draw against Velasquez is someone who hasn’t followed UFC history. It’s almost as if none of these writers or fans remember their heroes ever losing in their primes.

Let’s face it, the situation isn’t good. The worst idea here would be to move forward with Overeem challenging Velasquez, which is something that is not in the UFC’s plans. I won’t insult you by telling you that Overeem losing was a good thing. It wasn’t. But MMA fans have short memories. Heck, Cain Velasquez was knocked out in front of one of the biggest MMA audiences in history in under a minute! All he needed was one fight in which he absolutely obliterated Antonio Silva to earn back his credibility. Now the guy is regarded as unbeatable.

How about this scenario? Alistair Overeem wins his next two fights handily with knockouts or TKO’s. Fast forward to 12-18 months from now and are you really going to tell me that an indestructible Velasquez against a red hot Overeem is going to draw any less than what the fight would have drawn if Overeem survived against Bigfoot? Of course not! The fight would be huge and lucky for Overeem, the competition right now at heavyweight isn’t very stellar. The only real threat to Overeem is Junior Dos Santos. If Overeem can either beat JDS or avoid the fight entirely, it is not impossible to for Overeem to get two decisive wins in a row.

So before I am ready to jump off of a building and mock the fall of Alistair Overeem I’ll wait and see what happens in his next two fights. His next fight is the kicker. It’s time to panic if Overeem can’t pull of anything less than a dominating win. One big win, followed by another, and the UFC will be right back in the driver’s seat with its blockbuster heavyweight title fight.

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Josh Barnett Not Signing With UFC

February 07, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The flirtation between Josh Barnett and Dana White went exactly as you expected it would. Barnett will not be returning to the UFC but the reason why may or may not surprise you.

MMAfighting.com broke the story on Wednesday that Josh Barnett will not be moving to the UFC. The reason why though and the circumstances behind it are quite interesting. According to the story the UFC and Barnett agreed on all of the financial terms of a new deal. Surprisingly (or not) the report says that it was Barnett who turned down the deal due to the UFC failing to meet one undisclosed term which was not financial.

This is bad news for the UFC, especially coming off of a pay per view where their next scheduled championship fight completely fell apart. The heavyweight division is in trouble, big trouble. There are still a few stars left but it is a one man show with Cain Velasquez atop the mountain. A deep look into the division reveals a ton of parody and retreads. The division desperately needed someone with the star power of Barnett to come in and give it a boost. Throw in Barnett’s ability to talk and self-promote better than almost any other fighter in MMA and this is a big loss no matter how you cut it.

How Barnett would have done in the UFC is another discussion. But, the UFC would have had a former heavyweight champion who never lost his title returning to the company. I know Dana White said Barnett would have to wait on a title match but I don’t believe that. They could have easily moved him to the top with the justification being that he is a former champ that never lost and had a big money fight right off the bat.

Some will say that this news is not surprising at all. There are many that believe that Barnett never really wanted to come back to the UFC at all. Critics have accused Barnett of avoiding the UFC in order to take easier fights and pad his record. I think that is a bit of a stretch but at this point I am starting to believe those critics, depending upon what this undisclosed consideration turns out to be.

Barnett’s only real option at this point is Bellator. Unfortunately for him, Bjorn Rebney has publicly stated that they have no interest in him. A hybrid deal with TNA Wrestling and Spike TV makes perfect sense. Barnett as a dual fighter and pro wrestling in Bellator and TNA could actually move numbers for both companies. I wonder if Bellator’s interest would change with pressure from TNA Wrestling and Viacom. A transition as a personality and host on Spike TV also makes a ton of sense for Barnett.

It is hard to say whether negotiations are completely dead. You never know and stranger things have happened. A deal could be struck with this undisclosed term being met and Barnett could sign tomorrow. Although I think it is fair to say that the chances of that happening are looking very slim.

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UFC Champ Cain Velasquez: Who’s Next?

February 05, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is still reeling days after their planned heavyweight championship showdown fell apart thanks to a big, nasty giant. So what is next for Cain Velasquez? Let’s take a look at the division and breakdown some possible matchups for the champ.

It was too easy yet the UFC got cute and fell on their faces. Alistair Overeem walked into the UFC looking like a Greek God and sent the former heavyweight kingpin Brock Lesnar into retirement. The aura was created, the fans bought in, and a million dollar challenger was born.

Even with a failed PED test (which had a ton of comedy around it), Overeem was still promised the next title fight. Then Overeem and the UFC made the ultimate gamble and set up their golden challenger with a tune up fight. Unfortunately this isn’t pro wrestling and there is never a guaranteed win in MMA. They both found out the hard way and now Cain Velasquez is looking around for his next victim.

The heavyweight division is in bad shape right now but there are a few intriguing possibilities. The UFC can look in several directions for Velasquez’s next challenger. Here are a few possibilities which may not be as juicy on paper as Velasquez vs. Overeem, but could turn out to be some pretty interesting fights.

Junior Dos Santos: JDS is the obvious choice here. He is the only heavyweight now that you can argue truly deserves a title shot. The problem here is that he and the UFC made Velasquez get a win, so JDS should have to do the same. He does hold a win over Cain and he was never put away in their last fight. It certainly won’t draw the intrigue of Overeem vs. Cain but of any possibilities, it makes the most sense.

Bigfoot Silva: If Overeem was the number one contender and Silva KO’d him, shouldn’t he get the title shot? Logically you can make a strong argument that he deserves it. Unfortunately it hasn’t even been a year since Velasquez absolutely mauled Bigfoot in what was arguably the most brutal beating seen in UFC in 2012. There will be little intrigue here and the fact is that most will see this as a lopsided matchup. He does deserve the title shot but he’ll need 1-2 big wins before people start to buy into him. Based on sport I’d go with Bigfoot. Based on business I’d look elsewhere.

Josh Barnett: Now to be clear the Babyfaced Assassin hasn’t even signed with the UFC yet, but negotiations are underway. Barnett is coming off a lopsided win over a guy that nobody would recognize. He hasn’t had a big win in a long time in America, unless you count Brett Rogers. Selling him as a deserving challenger is going to be rough. However, you can play the UFC heavyweight champion card. Barnett technically never lost the title in a ring or octagon. Barnett is smart enough to promote the fight in such a way that people will eventually want to buy into either seeing Cain shut him up or him taking his belt back. Dana White says he’s not in consideration. I don’t believe it for a second.

Alistair Overeem: That’s right I said it. Why not? Nick Diaz, Frankie Edgar, and Chael Sonnen are all getting title shots off of losses right? The UFC has booked more on business than sport over the last several months and this fight still makes the most sense for business. Overeem is a star and a draw and while he did hit the ground, I think enough people would be interested in a Cain vs. Overeem strike-fest to make it viable. Do I think he’ll get the title shot? No, but stranger things have happened in the UFC.

Jon Jones: I brought this up in my post-UFC 156 blog on Saturday night just shortly after Overeem hit the mat. The UFC light heavyweight champion has said on more than one occasion that he is planning to move up to heavyweight this year. He is obligated to a title defense in April so Cain would have to wait. But, what if Jones decides after Sonnen that he is done in the division? The UFC could book this fight on their July super show and promote it as something very special. Would anyone really have a problem with a champion moving up and getting an immediate title shot? I doubt it. The big question here is whether the UFC wants to cut their nose off to spite their face and weaken one division to strengthen another.

Daniel Cormier: The Strikeforce Grand Prix heavyweight tournament winner says that he will not fight his teammate Cain Velasquez, but does he mean it? Cormier has never made UFC money or anything close to what he’d make as UFC heavyweight champion. Jon Jones said he’d never fight his teammate either and he eventually did. This is a sport and in sports, friends play against each other all of the time, sometimes even family members. I will take Cormier at his word for now, but I am not convinced that a fighter who hasn’t made the big money would turn away millions for one fight. If Cormier accepts, you have one intriguing matchup for fight fans.

Fabricio Werdum: Let me make this perfectly clear. I can’t stand the man! I have grown to have a large distaste for Werdum after he sat on the mat and made a mockery of his entire fight with Alistair Overeem. But, if you are looking for a credible heavyweight he could fit the bill. He will be fighting Big Nog in June which is the problem as you’d have to keep Velasquez idle until the end of the year for a fight. Werdum is on a 2-0 streak and a win over Big Nog would give him three and probably a title shot at the end of the year. Unfortunately he is locked into the Brazilian The Ultimate Fighter so pulling him now isn’t feasible.

Roy Nelson: If not for his loss to Werdum I’d shoot him right into the top of the mix. Nelson is a funny guy because he’s always hanging around the top of the division but like Michael Bisping, he can never close the door when he needs to for a title shot. Roy vs. Cain would be a lot more intriguing to me than it may be to some people. He does have a fight scheduled with Cheick Kongo in April so you run into the same scheduling problems with him as you would with Jones. However, if Nelson can pull off the win why not give him the title fight? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch!

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Bigfoot Silva KO’s Alistair Overeem At UFC 156

February 02, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

Antonio Bigfoot Silva has shocked the MMA world once again. Bigfoot pulled off a gigantic upset at UFC 156 when he shut the lights on Alistair Overeem.

This is why you don’t cute in MMA. The plan was easy. Alistair Overeem was supposed to challenge for the UFC heavyweight title. The fight was set until Overeem was pulled after failing a PED test. The UFC could have played it safe and booked Overeem right back in the title fight upon his return. Instead they gambled and they lost big, to the tune of millions of dollars.

Overeem made his return to the UFC after a 13+ month layoff. Overeem was matched up against Antonio Silva. On paper this was supposed to be an easy tune up fight for Overeem. Overeem mocked Silva over the last few weeks in the media. He called him a moving big target. Well that moving big target rocked his world at UFC 156.

The heavyweight collision saw a lot of Overeem and Silva tying up in the first two rounds with Overeem winning most of those battles. There wasn’t a whole lot of action although Overeem did connect on some knees in those cage battles. The two engaged a few times but nothing came out of it. Silva did come on strong at the close of round two. At one point Overeem took Silva down. It looked like an easy win for Overeem…and then came round three.

“Fight and win inside the cage, not outside,” Silva said after the fight. “He talked a lot of s— but I believe in myself.”

Joe Rogan pointed out during the fight that Overeem was showing less and less respect for Silva’s punching as the fight progressed. He dropped his hands, stuck out his chin, and practically mocked Silva. He even had words for Silva as the two separated to end round two. I don’t know what he said but he woke up a sleeping giant. Silva went for broke and teed off on Overeem. Silva landed 10 nasty punches to drop Overeem like a ton of bricks at the 25-second mark of the round with a KO finish you will see replayed for the next ten years.

Silva now has the honor of stopping the two favorites of the Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament and the honor of costing the UFC millions and millions of dollars. Overeem vs. Velasquez is out and even though they can always get it back, it will never be the same. Overeem was seen as an unstoppable machine. That aura can never come back and that is something that will cost the UFC big time.

Not all is lost on Overeem. The loss sets up a great situation for the UFC to book Overeem vs. Junior Dos Santos. These two have been talking trash on each other for almost a year. It really is a win-win at that point for the UFC. The winner gets a UFC championship shot and the UFC can cash in on a grudge match that fans will pay money to see. The downside here is that neither man will likely recover from a loss so it becomes an all or nothing situation for both men. A spectacular win by either man will bring a lot of money into a heavyweight title fight with the champ.

The biggest question here is what do you do with Cain Velasquez? There is nobody out there remotely deserving of a title fight. Daniel Cormier would solve everything but he and Velasquez are teammates and won’t fight. I suppose you can go right back to a rematch with JDS but they made Cain get a win back, so JDS should theoretically have to as well. Silva would be ideal if not for the fact that he got massacred by Velasquez last year. Roy Nelson would probably be the only other option at this point and I can’t imagine that is where the UFC would like to go.

I can’t help but also think that this helps former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. Barnett is currently in negotiations to return to the UFC. The heavyweight division desperately needs depth, especially if Cormier moves down to light heavyweight. Barnett is a known commodity and could jump right into that top mix of heavyweights. It wouldn’t even surprise me to see the UFC justify giving him a title shot right off the bat.

Keep an eye out on Jon Jones. Jones can be the wild card here. Jones is fighting Chael Sonnen in April but he has said he’d like to move to heavyweight in 2013. Going to Jones vs. Velasquez would result in keeping Velasquez idle for a long time so maybe that isn’t the answer. However, if the UFC can’t figure anything out maybe they do sit Velasquez and wait on Jones. The fight would be perfect for the annual summer super show.

There is a lesson to be learned here. When you have a money fight, you don’t get cute, you take it. The UFC got cute tonight and got burnt. I would suspect you won’t see that happening again in the near future.

Check back soon for full results and a rundown of the entire UFC 156 event.

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10 Most Anticipated UFC 2013 Fights

January 09, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

2012 will go down as a mixed year in the UFC. Unable to deliver the big super fights, the UFC will attempt to rebound in 2013 with several highly anticipated fights both scheduled and in planning.

If there was one disappointment with the UFC in 2012 it was the inability to pull off big fights. Even realistic super fights in division like Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz failed to materialize for a variety of reasons. With an all-star roster on deck featuring new fighters from Strikeforce, the UFC has the potential to blow away 2012 with several big fights this year. Now whether the UFC can pull these off or not is another story altogether.

I sat down with the idea of writing about the 10 most anticipated UFC fights of 2013. Unfortunately I had a rough time coming up with anything past five. It isn’t as if the big fights aren’t available, it just appears that the biggest ones aren’t close to taking place. So in order to get to ten, I had to throw a lot of hypothetical matchups into the mix. I tried keeping it realistic and staying away from fights like GSP vs. Silva which while gigantic, doesn’t appear to be taking place in 2013. Of course the UFC is always full of surprises but on the first week of January, here is a look at what I think are the 10 most anticipated fights both signed and likely to happen in the next twelve months.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz UFC 158 - This one is signed but is far away from being sealed, and further away from being delivered. Diaz is still unlicensed so until he appears before the NSAC to get reinstated, this fight is far from a lock. However, if everything comes together as planned this is undoubtedly the biggest fight on the docket in 2013 now and for the rest of the year. Grudge fights sell in the UFC and I can’t think of a bigger grudge that will be settled in 2013 than this one.

Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones UFC 159 - If you are a hardcore fan and have followed Sonnen and Jones over the last few months, you are probably less excited about this fight than you were when it was announced. If you are a casual fan who peeks in and out, well then you are probably just as amped. So far the “grudge” between these two has turned into a bit of a love affair. I have to think that as the fight grows closer that Sonnen will go into his usual bag of promotional tricks and start talking. Regardless you have a fight between two stars with a title on the line. That will always draw to an extent.

Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping/Chris Weidman TBD - Anderson’s next move is as much of a mystery as anything else in the UFC. Dana White has said that Silva would fight Bisping if he wins his next fight but when is the last time Bisping hasn’t choked in this scenario? If it isn’t Bisping than Chris Weidman looks to be the next man up for the Spider. Regardless of the opponent, Anderson will always be a draw on pay per view. Unfortunately it isn’t likely to be the two opponents that would draw him the most money in either GSP or Bones Jones.

Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo UFC 156 - I am probably one of the few MMA fans incredibly psyched for this fight. I am a big fan of both and I think that this one has enormous potential to be fight of the year. Unfortunately neither are a draw on pay per view, yet I think the weak schedule puts this one at least in consideration for top 10 anticipated fights.

Cain Velasquez vs. Alistair Overeem TBD - Now is where we start diving into hypothetical fights. Have you seen Bigfoot Silva fight elite competition? He doesn’t fare so well. So I am going to presume that Overeem beats him. This one has the makings of a classic. Overeem has something that nobody else in the heavyweight division has had since Brock Lesnar left…charisma. That charisma equals money and that charisma matched up with Velasquez’s mystique will draw mega money here.

Ronda Rousey vs. Cristiane Cyborg Santos TBD - Rousey and White can scream all that they want about Cyborg having to make 135 but at the end of the day I am still of the belief that this fight happens. Dave Meltzer recently reported that negotiations are very close to making this fight happen at 135. I think you have the makings of what could be the third or fourth biggest fight of 2013 in the UFC. I hate to say it but the fate of the women’s division rests on this fight.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks TBD - This one could come sooner than you think if Diaz can’t play ball in time for UFC 158. Hendricks is on an impressive winning streak in the division and by rights, should be the number one contender. Hendricks has one more hurdle to jump and I can’t imagine him stumbling at this point. Another Hendricks KO will bring some big money to this welterweight title fight. The KO artist vs. the supreme athlete is gold. Hendricks is already running his mouth about GSP. By the time this fight happens you’ll have yourself a nice grudge match. I smell a lot of green here.

Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson TBD - I’ll continue with the hypothetical fights here and go back to the light heavyweight division. Dana White has talked about Daniel Cormier getting the next title shot but I think a Hendo win over Machida seals the deal. Henderson continues to talk trash about Jones and as fickle as Jones is, I can see him demanding a fight to shut him up. Ticket sales weren’t strong for their first scheduled fight but I think this one is different. Henderson’s streak and list of victims will be a who’s who in the division and will make him a believable contender against Jones. This division desperately needs a credible contender. Continuing the circus with Cormier will do nobody any favors. I think Henderson gets the next shot and these guys do some better than expected business.

Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez TBD - There are grumblings that this first time battle of Strikeforce vs. UFC champions will take place at the UFC on FOX 7 broadcast, although those are just rumors right now. One thing is confirmed and that is that the UFC is working hard to make this fight happen. I think Henderson has now solidified himself as one of the faces of the UFC and the idea of someone with Melendez’s pedigree and winning streak coming in to challenge him is money. Additionally, there is always added intrigue when you have a battle of champions. I know this division has struggled for attention since BJ Penn lost the title but I think Henderson brings it back to relevance in 2013.

Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira TBD - I’ll close out the hypothetical schedule with a fight that I think could be absolutely huge. Unfortunately Teixeira did himself no favors in his fight with Fabio Maldonado. He won but I think a bit of the mystique was off. He’ll have the chance to snatch that back when he fights on network television against Rampage Jackson. If he can brutalize Jackson as most expect, he’ll make himself a star overnight. He will look like the unstoppable killing machine getting ready to end the reign of Jones. There is major money in this fight if Teixeira gets past Rampage convincingly. Maybe they go with Teixeira vs. Henderson, Gustaffson, or Cormier in an eliminator first, but I think Teixeira gets his crack at Jones by year’s end in what turns out to be a big time fight.

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Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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