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Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier Delayed Until UFC 182

August 13, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC fans will have to wait for the biggest fight of the year. An injury to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has delayed his upcoming grudge match with Daniel Cormier until January 2015 and take place at UFC 182.

News broke on Tuesday of the delay which comes a week after some pundits predicted blockbuster numbers for the fight coming off of a press conference brawl and a couple of verbal scraps on television. Tensions boiled over last week when Jones and Cormier got into it at a presser. A satellite feed of ESPN’s interview with the two showed a side of Jones none of us had ever seen where he mocked Cormier and called him “p*ssy” several times. By week’s end interest in this fight had grown to levels not seen since Sonnen vs. Silva 2.

Jones is pulling out of the first due to an injury suffered in training. A torn meniscus and a sprained ankle Jones suffered Monday wrestling is the cause of the postponement. While this may sound perfectly reasonable to most, MMA fans are seething at Jones for the delay. Fighters fight with these types of injuries often and Jones delaying the fight due to this is not sitting well with many…including Daniel Cormier.

“I said from the beginning that Jon Jones isn’t afraid of anyone,” Cormier said. “But if I can go in there with a partially torn ACL, I think he should have fought; tough it up and fight.

“I don’t know the extent of his injuries, and if it’s really bad, I’ll take it back. But on the surface, I heard he hurt himself. But people hear ACL, they think you’re out for a year. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve been training. I wish he would have just fought.

“I’m saying tough it out sometimes,” he added. “Sometimes you’ve got to go in there and tough it out and just fight.”

As upset as Cormier is, the postponement may work in his favor. The delay will allow him to seek care for his partially torn ACL, an injury Jones would have surely targeted in the fight. Cormier could likely seek arthroscopic surgery for the ACL and fight closer to 100%. The irony here is that many critics believed the reason Jones wanted to fight Cormier so badly was because he knew Cormier was hurt and wanted to get him before he had surgery.

At first glance this is terrible news on the business side for the UFC. However, Dave Meltzer reports that the UFC would like to stack the January 3 Las Vegas event with Jones vs. Cormier and Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano. According to Meltzer, Carano is still in play between Bellator and the UFC. Meltzer predicted a buyrate of anywhere between 1.1 and 1.8 million for that double main-event. I think he’s freaking nuts but I do think it would be a blockbuster.

I do wonder if the buzz will subside between Cormier and Jones by the time we get close to the event. By that point the press conference brawl and verbal spats would have already been several months old. Many of the casual fans will be knee-deep in football by that point. I still think it will do great business, but how long the shelf-life is on this buzz is the big question. Cormier is confident that won’t happen.

“I think people recognize that it’s a big fight,” he said. “I think by January, people will understand, and maybe people will stop thinking about us fighting on stage or getting caught cussing each other when the cameras were on.

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Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier Fight At UFC 178 Press Conference

August 04, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

The UFC has finally got a blockbuster on its hands. Fireworks erupted today between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones in a brawl that has everyone talking. The buzz is now in place to turn this fight into the biggest rivalry since Sonnen vs. Silva.

Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones don’t like each other. That isn’t news. What is news is that a fight broke out at a UFC press conference for the first time I can remember. Jones put his head on Cormier, Cormier put his hands on Jones, and chaos ensued on the MGM Grand floor in a video that has quickly become viral.

To say that the UFC needed this is one of the biggest understatements you will ever read on here. 2014 has shaped up to be a grim year for the UFC with no grudge matches, cancelled cards, and one super fight signed that won’t even happen until next year. That has changed. Judging from the press this brawl immediately received and the buzz created, it is not inconceivable that this fight could top one million buys, saving an otherwise tough year on pay per view.

What may be more interesting than the brawl is a dual interview that took place on ESPN SportsCenter a few hours later. Cormier and Jones were interviewed with a split screen, each giving their versions of the fight. Jones and Cormier also discussed the origins of their beef which goes back a few years. The video is great, specifically with an arrogant Jones telling Todd Grisham that he thought it would be harder to take Cormier down since he is an Olympic wrestler.

I have to admit that when news broke of the brawl, I thought it was a work. After watching this interview I am convinced it was 100% real for one reason. Jones was completely monotone and seemed almost disinterested in the whole thing as opposed to Cormier who was red hot. My biggest criticism of Jones is that he is horrible at promoting his own fights. He is lucky that Cormier sees the big picture otherwise this scuffle probably would mean a lot less.

Unfortunately all of the selling in the world won’t convince me that Jones isn’t going to walk through Cormier. Cormier has a bad knee and has never been in an MMA fight with anyone close to Jones’ level. I think Jones will pick him apart on their feet and Cormier will have a real rough time going into deep waters later in the fight.

Check out the brawl along with several interviews following the melee.

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Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson Rematch Signed For UFC 178

June 06, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The biggest UFC rematch of 2014 will be coming to Toronto. It’s official, Jon Jones will put his UFC light heavyweight title up against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 178. As expected with Bones, this rematch did not come without plenty of controversy.

I can’t recall a UFC fighter who has had as much drama as Jon Jones has had in his or her UFC careers. Nothing is ever simple for Jones. Sometimes it’s good drama, yet the majority of trouble is not so good. Once again Jones put himself in the middle of controversy after refusing to fight Gus again. It took a final negotiation on Thursday between the UFC and the champ to get the fight signed.

Unless something changes from now to December and it can, this will be the biggest fight on paper for 2014. The fight rematches what some are calling the greatest light heavyweight title fight in UFC history. Jones survived a five-round onslaught against Gustafsson late last year. Yet even with what some call a controversial decision, Jones had very little interest in a second fight. Jones was reportedly more interested in a fight with undefeated UFC fighter Daniel Cormier, although he is now playing that down.

“I think Cormier is the tougher fighter, but the fans want to see me fight Gustafsson,” Jones stated. “There was never an issue with taking the Gustafsson fight. The issue was that my brother is getting married in July, and I would have preferred a later date. I didn’t want to go this early, and I would have preferred to go later in October or November.”

While a lot of UFC fans may not want to hear this I have to be honest with you. Jones is right. Jones should be fighting Daniel Cormier. Gus-Bones I was a close fight and it was a fun fight but here are the facts. Gus gassed out and he didn’t beat him. As the challenger he needed to do more to win the fight. He didn’t. Jones survived and had more in the tank at the end of the fight than his challenger did. It was a great fight, no question, but I just don’t understand the outcry for a rematch so soon.

What has Gus done since the fight? He has one won fight against Jimi Manuwa. Taking nothing away from Manuwa and while he was undefeated, he wasn’t even considered a top five fighter. Shouldn’t a guy who lost the fight against the champion have to do more to get a rematch? I am still waiting to see Frankie Edgar get another shot at the lightweight belt after coming close to defeating Ben Henderson. While Cormier hasn’t gone out and beat what I’d call the best, he has fought higher ranked opponents than Gus. He does deserve the shot.

Jones gets a lot of criticism for being a bad businessman but he is dead on here. His previous fight with Gus at UFC 165 did around 310,000 buys. Keep in mind that includes replay buys so if fans were so interested in seeing that classic, they would have ordered the replay the next day. That number is pathetic for a guy who is supposed to be the number one or two star. There was no business with Gus. He knows that and he knows that there is a much better chance that a fight with Cormier would do better business. I think an argument could be made that as great as their first fight was, Bones-Cormier could theoretically outdraw a rematch.

Regardless, the fight is coming and it is signed for UFC 178. Cormier will have to wait his turn, which may be a good thing since he reportedly has a knee injury. I look for Jones to retain the title in a fight that doesn’t go the distance. Gus gave him everything he had and couldn’t put him away. I don’t see anything different the second time around.

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Big UFC Fights Missing In 2014

February 12, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

With Anderson Silva and GSP on the sidelines, the UFC will need to count on new stars to fill those big fight slots this year. Unfortunately an early look at 2014 exposes a dull year and one of the most turbulent periods of the Zuffa era.

While the UFC has become a watered down product over the last couple of years, there have always been a couple of big fights to get excited about. A 2014 doesn’t show much promise when it comes to these big fights. I looked up and down the list of scheduled fights and potential fights and there is absolutely nothing for a casual fan to get excited about.

Dana White has had a lucky run the last few years. His two biggest stars, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre continued to carry the company while cards became watered down and stars became harder to make. Now White is left with Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey, both unproven and somewhat unstable in their positions. It may be time for the UFC president to press the panic button.

If there is a big fight to get excited about in 2014 I don’t see it. When I mean big fight I am talking a fight expected to draw 700,000+ buys. Sure there are some intriguing fights that will appeal to the hardcore fans and maybe even some casuals, but where is the can’t-miss event of 2014?

Let’s take a look at some of the pay-per-view headline fights already scheduled for 2014. Excuse me while I grab a pillow.

Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann UFC 170 – This is the test for Rousey. There are many who believe that Rousey is the biggest star in the UFC. She certainly had a hand in that impressive UFC 168 buyrate but what has she done on her own? If Rousey can break 500,000 here I will concede that she is the biggest star in the UFC. If she can’t, it is a real dose of reality for the UFC who have hyped her more than any fighter since Brock Lesnar. Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Cormier in the semi is about as exciting as a sleeping pill. I would say thus far there is less buzz going into this Rousey fight than her previous two which isn’t a good sign.

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler UFC 171 – I like the fight, like it a lot, but is it a draw? Hendricks drew a disappointing buyrate with GSP and let’s be clear, it was GSP drawing the number. I think a lot of casual fans still see Lawler as a Strikeforce castoff, which he certainly isn’t. I think it is going to be a fun fight but I can’t imagine many people scrambling to get together watch Robbie Lawler vs. Johny Hendricks.

Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixera UFC 172 – Again this is another fight I can’t wait to see. I am not the casual fan and casuals probably aren’t as hyped about Teixera as I am. Jones has not been the draw he should be given his star power (or lack thereof). His fight against Alexander Gusftafsson didn’t even break 400,000 buys! That is pathetic. The problem with Jones is Jones. The only time the guy draws is when his opponents like Rashad and Rampage do the talking. I don’t expect a lot of smack talk from Teixera here and thanks to Jones minimizing his opponent as he always does, I’d be hard pressed to expect anything more than 300,000 buys here.

Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman UFC 173 – Of all the fights on paper this is the one I am most excited about. That said, how many times are fans going to get bit by Vitor Belfort’s championship chokes? Belfort is an exciting fighter whenever he is not challenging for a title. I think this is the most intriguing fight on the docket yet I don’t know how many fans are going to buy into Vitor. Add in the TRT controversy and Belfort is more of a turnoff in this situation. The saving grace here is Wanderlei vs. Chael which could push this event past 500,000 buys.

Quite honestly the more intriguing headliners to me are on the free shows. Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousassi, Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua, Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy, Roy Nelson vs. Bog Nog, and Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum are better fights to me than most of the headliners.

Looking at the rest of the year there is nothing I can see that will fill the void left of by GSP in regards to pay-per-view buyrates. I don’t trust Jon Jones at all in selling the Gustafsson rematch. Teixera winning and a rematch with Jones could be a big one. Cain Velasquez will fight later this year but neither Fabricio nor Browne are opponents that anyone will get excited about. Machida vs. the Belfort vs. Weidman winner could be interesting but Machida has never been a big pay-per-view draw. Rousey vs. Cat Zingano is a fun fight but I don’t see either one doing the kind of promotion necessary to push it over the top. A miracle BJ Penn win over Frankie Edgar could make him an unlikely title challenger in what would be a huge fight. Any hope that GSP will come back and fight the Hendricks vs. Lawler winner seems to be dissipating with Dana White’s classless verbal attacks. If there is a big one I am missing let me know because all I am seeing is a bunch of okay fights lacking star power.

What is the UFC to do? There are no super fights available to solve this problem. The only super fight that is out there is Jones vs. Cain and according to Jones, he wouldn’t even entertain that until 2015. The UFC are going to have to work hard at creating new stars and using 2014 as something of a rebuilding year. Professional franchises do it all of the time. The UFC can still have a decent year while getting new faces and new stars ready for the future.

If not, 2015 is going to be an even uglier year for the UFC.

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Top 20 MMA Fights Of 2013

January 02, 2014 By: Category: lists, Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

In honor of the UFC’s 20th anniversary this year, I figured it only appropriate that my year end fight countdown involved the top 20 fights from the calendar year 2013. Although not all of these fights took place in the UFC it’s hard to ignore the UFC’s place at the head of the class in terms of mixed martial arts promotions. Although there are a number of other promotions represented in the list including Bellator, Maximum Fighting Championship, ONE FC and Invicta. Enough rambling, let’s get to the year’s top fights.

#20 – ONE Fighting Championship: Moment of Truth – Featherweight Championship Bout: Honorio Banario vs. Koji Oishi – December 6, 2013

The opening round of this bout wasn’t the most exciting, but the second and third rounds really make up for it. In title bout rematches, this is often the case, especially in a fight between two proven power punchers like Banario and Oishi. The second and third rounds mainly featured a game of cat and mouse as Banario pressed forward with big punches, while Oishi coyly backed off and did his best to land the big power shot, eventually in the third round he found the shot and delivered a highlight reel knockout to retain his title.

#19 – Maximum Fighting Championship: True Grit – Bantamweight Bout: Anthony Birchak vs. Ryan Benoit – May 10, 2013

This fight was the debut of Maximum Fighting Championship’s Bantamweight division and granted the winner a future title shot. Both men carried winning streaks into the bout and put it all on the line in this bout. The result was a fast and furious scrap that had action both on the feet and on the mat. Each man had their chances to end the fight, either with submission attempts or ground and pound, but each man was able to hang tough. Eventually, the two warriors made it to the final bell and in the end it was Birchak that took home the Unanimous Decision victory.

#18 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on FOX 7 – Lightweight Championship Bout: Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez – April 20, 2013

Entering into this contest, many people were intrigued to see how the fight would play out. The long-reigning and final Lightweight champion of the Strikeforce promotion crossing over to battle the UFC’s reigning Lightweight champion, this would had the feeling of a champion vs. champion bout. Melendez was fighting in front of his hometown crowd in San Jose and the fans backed him relentlessly throughout the fight as Melendez shrugged off numerous takedown attempts and used leg kicks and a steady jab to throw the UFC’s champion off balance. In the end, the result was a hotly contested Split Decision victory that went to Benson Henderson.

#17 – Bellator Fighting Championship: Bellator 85 – Featherweight Championship Bout: Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire – January 17, 2013

At Bellator 85 there were a number of title contests, one of which was a Featherweight Championship tilt between champion Pat Curran and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Despite both fighters coming off of long layoffs, the bout still delivered. Freire pushed the action early and often, which left Curran stumbling and reeling at times. But Curran seemed to get better and better as the fight wore on and began to take control of what was mostly a kickboxing contest. In the end Curran took home a very close Split Decision victory to retain his Featherweight title.

#16 – Invicta Fighting Championship: Invicta FC 4 – Women’s Strawweight Bout: Tecia Torres vs. Paige Van Zant – January 5, 2013

This was an entertaining women’s scrap that opened quickly. Torres showed an impressive striking acumen in the opening stanza, battering Van Zant’s face with a strong jab and several creative elbow strikes. The second round featured some exciting grappling as Van Zant took the bout to the mat to try and slow the striking prowess of Torres. With nearly four minutes remaining, Torres was able to reverse the position and took her opponent’s back, working for a choke finish but Van Zant was able to hang tough. The final few minutes of this fight was excellent as both women just turned it into a slugfest and let it all hang out in the middle of the cage. In the end Torres took a Unanimous decision victory.

#15 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on Fuel TV 8 – Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve – March 3, 2013

This Heavyweight bout could have gone a number of ways, Hunt promised a slugfest, but most experts expected the grappling savvy Struve to take the bout to the ground quickly. In the first round, that’s exactly what happened, as Struve quickly pulled guard and did his best to work for a submission. In the second Hunt took over and kept the bout standing, where he tagged Struve with a number of big punches, while the massive Struve seemed to fade and gas out. In the third round, Hunt really took over. With Struve’s defensive striking wavering Hunt began to land power shots at will. A huge combination of punches put Struve down for good, and lead to a long layoff for Struve as he suffered significant damage to his jaw from the punches in the knockout loss.

#14 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 168 – Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate – December 28, 2013

There was a lot of hype heading into this bout, a full season’s worth of feuding on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. Not to mention the built in rivalry of this being a rematch from both ladies’ Strikeforce days. With all of that in mind, Miesha Tate was sold as a credible challenger to Rousey’s throne, but the odds makers in Vegas didn’t buy in, billing the challenger as a 7-to-1 underdog. In the end Tate put up a decent fight, and was able to hang tough, hanging in the Octagon with the champion longer than anyone else in history. At the end though, it was more domination from the champion and despite Tate’s ability to survive, she eventually succumbed to yet another Rousey arm bar.

#13 – Bellator Fighting Championship: Bellator 106 – Lightweight Championship Bout: Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler – November 2, 2013

It was the biggest rematch in the history of Bellator’s existence as undefeated Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler defended his title against former champion Eddie Alvarez. Their first scrap was a highly entertaining bout, which left big shoes to fill. I’d have a hard time describing the blow for blow coverage for this five round brawl, but it was a highly entertaining fight with tons of action on the ground and on the feet. While this fight failed to live up to the excitement that their first contest did, it was still an incredible fight that highlighted everything that MMA is about and despite the controversial Split Decision victory for Alvarez it remains the best fight in Bellator’s 2013 calendar year.

#12 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on FOX 7 – Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein – April 20, 2013

“The Immortal” Matt Brown made a career resurgence in 2013 and this bout was a big part of his statement year. Many expected the brawling style of Brown to struggle with the crisp and technical kickboxing of young Jordan Mein. The bout was contest mostly on the feet and Brown outworked his younger opponent with a stronger jaw and big power punches. After dropping Mein at the end of the first and having him saved by the bell, Brown continued to swarm the youngster in the second round. An onslaught of strikes against the cage and on the ground eventually led to Brown earning the TKO via referee stoppage.

#11 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on Fuel TV 7 – Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier – February 16, 2013

Cub Swanson bouts tend to be highly entertaining contests, Dustin Poirier fights tend to be highly entertaining scraps, both of those statements remained true in this contest. Swanson used a plethora of kicks to keep Poirier off-balance and keep the fight standing. In the second round, Swanson began to show some of his underrated grappling skills as both men exchanged in some excellent transitions on the ground. The final round started with a number of exchanges on the feet, before both men went to the ground. Swanson dominated the final minutes on the ground, en-route to sealing the deal on a hard fought Unanimous decision victory.

#10 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 156 – Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar – February 2, 2013

Fresh off of losing consecutive decisions to Lightweight champion Benson Henderson, both in somewhat controversial fashion, Frankie Edgar made the drop to the Featherweight division for an immediate title shot against reigning kingpin Jose Aldo. What followed was a highly entertaining scrap that went the full five rounds, with every minute being filled with action. Through the early rounds Aldo used thudding leg kicks and a stiff jab to keep the challenger at bay, but as the rounds went on, the challenger seemed to get stronger as the champion slowly faded. The final two rounds were highly entertaining as Edgar tried to battle his way back and began to swing the fight in his favor. In the end his comeback bid fell short, and Edgar lost yet another close decision in a title fight.

#9 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 160 – Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt – May 25, 2013

Junior dos Santos was a heavy favorite heading into this contest, and most expected JDS to show off his improved wrestling skills and exploit the subpar grappling skills of Mark Hunt. Instead he decided to slug it out with the heavy-handed former K-1 champion.  Early on JDS nearly cracked the iron jaw of Hunt and in the second round when he finally took the fight to the mat, he nearly stopped Hunt with a barrage of ground and pound. In the third, with the fight likely secure in his favor, JDS continued to pressure his highly dangerous opponent and the result was one of the best knockouts of the year. Dos Santos used a highlight reel spinning back kick to drop Hunt with under a minute left in the fight.

#8 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on FOX 6 – Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson

Despite the fact that the UFC’s Flyweight division has failed to catch on with the casual fan, it has continued to produce top quality contests. After steamrolling through a number of top fighters in both the Bantamweight and Flyweight divisions, most people wondered if anyone would be able to stop the Flyweight Champion. However, Dodson who’s speed would allow him to match up well with Johnson and who held big time knockout power. In the opening few rounds, the fight was quite close, with Dodson actually dropping the champion in the second round. But as the fight continued to wear on the champion seemed to get stronger and ran away for an eventual decision victory.

#7 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC Fight Night 33 – Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva – December 6, 2013

Are we sensing a theme yet? For a division not known for having a number of highly exciting fighters, Mark Hunt fights simply deliver. Win or lose, Mark Hunt puts on exciting fights, as he makes his third appearance on this top 20. This bout has recently come under a bit of scrutiny as Antonio Silva has since tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone from this contest, but the results remain impressive and the fight remains highly entertaining. Despite this being a slugfest between two men who weigh well over 250 pounds and possess fight ending knockout power in both their hands and feet, this contest managed to turn into a 25-minute brawl that no one knew either man had in them. Bloody, highly violent and highly sloppy at times, this is a fight that you can’t help but love.

#6 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale – Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate – April 13, 2013

If there’s another trend that this list seems to indicate it’s that exciting fights aren’t just for the men. The women of MMA have provided a number of highly entertaining bouts throughout the year, but this may be the most exciting of them all. This fight had it all. Technical striking exchanges, a few wild and sloppy striking exchanges and a number of impressive mat transitions. Tate used her grappling skills in the first round to control the action on the ground, using a steady stream of elbows and ground and pound to swarm her opponent. In the second it was more of the same, although Zingano showed a few signs of life. In the third, likely down two rounds to none and needing a stoppage for the victory, Zingano came out on fire. Pressuring Tate against the cage, Zingano delivered a number of brutal knee strikes that battered and bloodied Tate, before eventually earning her the stoppage and a comeback victory.

#5 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 166 – Lightweight Bout: Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez – October 19, 2013

Despite being two highly talented and technical Lightweight fighters, these two men seemed to disregard that for one night to engage in a brawl for the ages at UFC 166. This was one of the bloodiest bouts of the year, as Melendez left a cut on Sanchez’s face that probably still hasn’t completely healed. Melendez looked like the more technically refined striker and won a number of the striking exchanges, but even battered and bloodied, Sanchez never backed down. In the end Melendez took a hard fought decision victory in a bout that Joe Rogan called the “best he’d seen in all of his years of calling fights.”

#4 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 157 – Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice – February 23, 2013

Despite being billed as a contest between two fighters with wrestling heavy styles, this fight ended up being highly entertaining and action packed. In the first round each man found a number of offensive openings, but Grice had the best of the round when he dropped Bermudez with a short left hook that dropped Bermudez. In the second round Grice continued to push forward and pressure Bermudez with big shots, but also ate a number of big punches, including one that bloodied his forehead. In the third round Bermudez came out firing on all cylinders. He dropped Grice with an uppercut and continued his assault with ground and pound. When Grice was finally able to regain his footing, Bermudez continued to swarm him against the fence, not allowing Grice to get free. In the final 45 seconds both men continued to just swing punches at one another searching for a stoppage that never came. In the end Bermudez took a hotly contested Split Decision victory.

#3 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 158 – Welterweight Bout: Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit – March 16, 2013

On his way to a Welterweight title shot, Hendricks had to clear a very tough hurdle in the form of former UFC title challenger Carlos Condit. This fight had everything that a good MMA fight should have highly technical and fast paced striking exchanges, fast and furious grappling and a number of close calls. Hendricks landed a number of big punches early, but Condit showed a strong chin and was able to withstand them. Hendricks used his wrestling well in the early rounds of the bout, following up big punches with takedown attempts, which Condit struggled to fend off. Condit as always, was highly active from his back and attempted a number of submissions, but Hendricks controlled from the top and was able to defend well. In the second round Condit nailed a huge flying knee that many thought might swing the tide, but Hendricks was able to eat the shot and continue fighting. In the third round, Hendricks slowed and Condit attempted to mount his comeback. Condit threw everything he had at Hendricks, but couldn’t earn a stoppage and couldn’t do enough to sway the judge’s decision and dropped the decision to Hendricks who parlayed the win to a shot at GSP’s Welterweight title.

#2 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 165 – Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson – September 21, 2013

Immediately after this fight was over, Twitter was abuzz and calling this the best fight in the history of the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and one of the best fights in MMA history. While some of that might be hyperbole, the fact remains that this was a highly entertaining scrap and definitely has its place as one of the most entertaining fights of the year. I had a hard time ranking this fight against the eventual first place on this list, and would consider them more of a 1A and 1B. Still I wouldn’t be doing this fight justice to describe it in detail, it is something that needs to be watched in full to be truly appreciated. Alexander Gustafsson gave Champion Jon Jones everything he could handle and more in the fight and the result was a highly entertaining scrap that must be seen.

#1 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on Fuel TV 8 – Light Heavyweight Bout: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann – March 3, 2013

During my midyear assessment of the best fights of the year, and even with another six months there hasn’t been another to surpass it. This fight is a thing of beauty for anyone who loves a good old brawl. There was little in the way of grappling or beautiful combinations, but there was a lot of punches, a lot of knockdowns and a highly entertaining scrap. One that you should find on the Internet, and watch immediately.

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Alexander Gustafsson Does Not Deserve A UFC Title Rematch

September 23, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC fans are still buzzing after the memorable showdown at UFC 165. Fans and press are clamoring to see Alexander Gustafsson get an immediate rematch at champion Jon Jones. It sounds fun on paper but does he really deserve one?

This fight has taken on a life of its own. The fight was immediately branded as the greatest light heavyweight title fight in UFC history during the broadcast (anyone see Tito Ortiz vs. Frank Shamrock?). Reporters and bloggers were drinking in the excitement in social media with many proclaiming that they witnessed history. I must be in the minority because I don’t necessarily agree with any of these statements but whether I like it or not, this fight has now taken its place among epic bouts.

Gustafsson gave Jones the toughest fight of his UFC career. Gustafsson not only stuffed most of Bones’ takedown attempts but was able to do the unthinkable and take Bones down to the mat. Gustafsson hung in the pocket trading and eating shots like he was a terminator. Yet at the end of the day Gustafsson lost the fight which doesn’t seem to matter to anyone.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. I saw a fight where the challenger played a brilliant strategic game but never once had the champion on the ropes. Maybe I missed it but I can’t recall at any time during the fight where Gustafsson was close to finishing Jones off. Vitor Belfort was closer to finishing Bones off. It was Gustafsson who looked to be in the most trouble at spots during the fight was arguably saved by the bell at one point. I am not taking anything away from Gus’ efforts but I watched a guy who not only lost three rounds but failed to capitalize on any opportunities and yet today he is being heralded as some kind of an uncrowned champion.

The fight stats tell you everything you need to know about the fight. According to FightMetric.com Jones won the battle of significant strikes as the well as number of overall strikes. Gus won the takedown battle but at no point did a takedown almost knock Jones out cold. Jones’ strikes, most specifically an elbow had Gus reeling in round 4. 30-60 more seconds on the clock probably would have ended the fight and Gus’ fairytale.

Since when is this kind of effort rewarded with an immediate title fight? I think the standard was set a few months back when Gilbert Melendez did almost the exact same thing to Ben Henderson and yet was moved to the back of the line following the fight. Frankie Edgar arguably beat Henderon in their rematch and was banished to another division. Urijah Faber didn’t get an immediate rematch after taking Dominick Cruz to a decision at UFC 132. Chael Sonnen did much more damage in his championship quest against Anderson Silva and he had to win two fights to get another rematch. Yes I know there were legal implications but he still had to win two fights to get that rematch. I don’t know if Gus did any more damage to Jones than any of those challengers did in their fights and none got either immediate rematches or rematches at all.

Glover Teixeira is the rightful number one contender and deserves the next crack at the title. Teixeira has put together an unheard of 20 wins in his last 20 fights. He is 5-0 in his UFC career. How could anyone argue that his record and patience should take a backseat to a very good effort by Gustafsson? I just don’t see it.

So while it is a nice story and the drama was some of the best the UFC has had in years that should not qualify Gustafsson for an immediate rematch. Gus should have to win 1-2 fights like anyone else before he is a part of the conversation. At the end of the day he didn’t get the job done nor was he robbed of a decision. I see no reason he should be rewarded for that.

UFC 162 Silva vs. Weidman DVD

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual

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Jon Jones thinks Anderson Silva “Abused His Gift By Disrespecting” Weidman

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

It will be awhile before UFC media can move on from the UFC 162 and the way Anderson Silva lost. That is why it wasn’t a surprise to hear the topic asked to Jon Jones often during Tuesday’s UFC 165 press conference and Bones offered an interesting take on the downfall of the Spider.

It is always interesting hearing other fighters talk about the Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman upset. While all are congratulating Weidman, many are disappointed in Silva and his antics during the fight. Like him or not Jon Jones has always tried to come off as a respectful professional so it was interesting to hear his thoughts on seeing a potential opponent KO’d under fascinating circumstances.

Jones was asked about the finish of the fight and the UFC light heavyweight champion would like to remind everyone that he has no intentions of ever purposely letting his hands down.

“It motivates me a lot to watch somebody who I look up to like that lose. It was a reality check. I try to keep my ego in check when it comes to the fight game. Watching Anderson lose like that, first of all is something I would never do put my hands down and fight like that. Seeing Chris Weidman’s dream come true, it motivates me to be a dream crusher.”

Jones was also asked about the burden of being champion. Silva talked about the burden of being champion after losing but this champion doesn’t see holding the title as a burden at all.

“I don’t let myself feel the burden of being a champion. There’s things that Matt Hughes has done, Georges St. Pierre has done. I don’t own so many records. I have no right to be complacent. I’m still young. I feel like I’m at the beginning of my journey. I’m learning to deal with media.”

Jones still has a lot of respect for Silva but he thinks that the reason Silva lost may have been more than just Chris Weidman catching him with his hands down…it was the War Gods that got him.

“I think Anderson Silva is a magnificent fighter. He abused his gift by disrespecting his opponent. He lost sight of that and paid the ultimate price for it. I’m not over the Anderson Silva fight train. He was fighting at a masterful level and he got disrespectful and the wargods made him pay for it. He’s still the best in my book.”

Jones is being very diplomatic here yet at the same time someone as sensitive as Silva is to fighter criticism may see his words as fighting words. GSP simply picked Weidman to beat him and Anderson immediately started mocking him. I am real curious to see if Silva uses these words to fuel a verbal assault of his own against Jon Jones once he starts doing media again for his next fight.

I am sure it was also nice to do a press conference for the first time in a year where Jones wasn’t asked about looking ahead to Anderson Silva.


UFC 162 Silva vs. Weidman DVD

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC Prez Insists Super Fight Next For Anderson Silva With Win

July 01, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Here we go again. The UFC president is at it again when it comes to super fights. Dana White dangled the UFC super fight once again at a recent press conference and insists if the results all work out that Anderson Silva will be fighting Jon Jones or GSP next.

Look I want to believe that the super fight is coming. Unfortunately the fact that the UFC prez has been talking an Anderson Silva mega fight for the last three years and hasn’t delivered tells me that I need to see it to believe it. According to White, I’ll be seeing it in 2013.

“If Georges St. Pierre beats Carlos Condit tomorrow, Anderson Silva will be there, sitting cageside, and those two will fight. Probably in May, at either [Cowboys Stadium], Toronto, or a soccer stadium down in Brazil.” – 2012

“If (Silva) wins that fight (against Vitor Belfort at UFC 126), then Georges St-Pierre needs to beat Jake Shields in Toronto (at UFC 129),” White told the guys in uniform. “If that happens, then we’re probably going to do that fight (between St-Pierre and Silva). If they both win, that fight makes all the sense in the world.” – 2011

“And, at the end of the day, we’re in the business of making fights that people want to see,” said White. “For instance, right now, I am getting terrorized – and I’m shocked that people keep doing it – to put on Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre. It starts to get to the point where I’m like, ‘I guess if everybody wants to see this fight, maybe we make this fight. We do it as a superfight.’ I don’t know. These guys still have a few fights to go before that could happen.” – 2010

Dana told reporters this week that if Anderson Silva wins, he will be fighting Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre next, depending upon the results of their fights. White also added a new wrinkle to the story. While White has discounted the idea of GSP vs. Silva at a catchweight in the past, White is now open to the idea of his two champions fighting at a catchweight of 180 pounds. The compromise there is that no title will be on the line and both championships would be held hostage for several months.

Silva, GSP, and Bones winning their fights wouldn’t be such a big deal in the past. All of their recent fights saw all three come in as heavy favorites. However, expecting three or even two to win upcoming fights may be more than the UFC can even realistically expect. While Bones is regarded as a heavy favorite against Alexander Gustafsson, many MMA experts are picking the challengers in Silva and GSP’s upcoming fights.

One thing I’ve learned when it comes to White insisting on these super fights is that he is generally full of it. White recently told reporters that Anderson Silva called him after Jon Jones thrashed Chael Sonnen and said he wanted to fight one of them. Silva was recently asked about that and not only denied the story but said he doesn’t even have White’s phone number!

I am not sure what White has to do at this point to get these fights signed. At a time when fighters are complaining about UFC pay, a mega fight between Silva vs. GSP or Bones would bring in more money than any fight in UFC history. White’s inability to close the deal is a story in itself. The UFC may never find itself in this kind of position again and to gamble with these three fighters at this point in GSP and Silva’s careers is just absolutely ridiculous.

White told reporters at the same presser that the plan was to go with Jones vs. Silva if MMA got regulated in New York for the 20th anniversary event. I am sure that was the plan but how could the UFC let that fight fall through simply due to location? It doesn’t make much sense. White keeps throwing Jones’ name around while Jones has been pretty consistent in telling the media that he wants to go up to heavyweight next year. I just don’t know how much credibility I put into these Jones vs. Silva statements.

Probably the worst thing that would happen for White is for Silva, GSP, and Bones to win their next fights. If they do and he can’t pull of one mega fight he is going to look bad if he can’t pull off the fight. White has been critical for Bob Arum and Floyd Mayweather failing to put together Pacquiao vs. Mayweather for years. At this point White (probably unfairly to his credit) is looking no better, especially when all three fighters are under his umbrella.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC Signs Two Big Championship Fights

June 25, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC has been very diligent at filling in their fight calendar for the remainder of the year. Dana White and Joe Silva were busy recently signing Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones to a couple of big title fights before the end of the year.

Georges St-Pierre will make his twelfth defense in his current UFC welterweight title reign at UFC 167 against the undisputed number one contender Johny Hendricks. GSP will fight outside of his home country for the first time since UFC 111 and head to Las Vegas in what will headline the unofficial 20th anniversary show from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones will try and break Tito Ortiz’s record of successful title defense at 205 as he defends against a somewhat disputed number one contender Alexander Gustafsson. Jones and Gusftafsson will headline UFC 165 on September 21 at the Air Canada Center.

The fights answer a lot of questions moving forward towards the end of the year in the UFC. Specifically the question of super fights is answered and the answer is that fans won’t be getting one this year. Dana White promised a fight between Anderson Silva and either Bones or GSP by the end of the year. With GSP and Bones both locked up it looks like the earliest either of them would fight Silva is the first quarter of 2014.

I am pumped for the Hendricks-GSP clash. I feel that Hendricks is the most dangerous fighter GSP has faced throughout his current title reign. I don’t think GSP has ever fought a striker as lethal as Hendricks. Additionally, Hendricks is highly underrated on the ground and should easily hold his own against GSP. I predict a major upset here with Hendricks taking the title before the fifth round ends.

Gustafsson is not as universally regarded as the top contender as Hendricks is in his division. Dana White proclaimed last year that Lyoto Machida was the number one contender for Jones and Machida hasn’t lost a fight since that proclamation. Gus is good but this fight is just pure business. It’s an intriguing fight but I’ve seen nothing from Gus that leads me to believe that he’ll give Jones much trouble.

Of course in the UFC all fights are subject to change. As of now it appears that the UFC will keep things hot moving into winter with at least two interesting championship fights, one specifically which could go down as a classic.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC Super Fights Won’t Happen In 2013

June 19, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC may be the number one MMA organization in the world but it has a serious problem. The UFC continue to fail to sign super fights. Now that Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones have signed their next fights the door on the elusive super fight has officially closed for 2013.

Dana White has accomplished more as UFC president than anyone could have ever predicted. Dana along with the Fertittas have grown the UFC to what some call a billion dollar company. Dana’s legacy will be full of success but the one failure that continues to be his Achilles heel is his inability to sign super fights. Unfortunately for him and more importantly MMA fans, another year will pass in which he and the UFC have failed to seal the deal.

UFC Tonight broke the news this week that the UFC have targeted Georges St-Pierre vs. Johnny Hendricks for UFC 167. The November fight will headline the UFC’s unofficial 20th anniversary show in Las Vegas. Hey don’t get me wrong, I am pumped for the fight. Yet at the end of the day what that fight announcement really means is that there will be no GSP vs. Silva fight in 2013.

But wait what about Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva? I have always felt that a Jones vs. Silva mega fight made more sense than GSP vs. Silva for the simple reason that Silva has fought at 205 before. Well just last week it was reported that Jon Jones will headline UFC 165 in September with a title defense against Alexander Gustafsson. Once again it was another door shut on the UFC’s other mega fight for 2013 with Jones now done for the year.

Not getting the two super fights wouldn’t be a problem if they were never dangled in front of us by the UFC president. Dana White has not only teased those fights for 2013 but outright promised that he would make one of them a few months back. When reporters brought up his failures in the past to sign these fights he simply blew those concerns off by basically saying he’d pay the money to get the fight done.

Well here we are on June 19 and neither fight is signed, nor will they happen in 2013.

I blogged a few months ago that Dana White’s legacy rests on making one of these fights. I was criticized for overlooking all of White’s great accomplishments as UFC president and I completely understand that. But at the end of the day he is a promoter and if he can’t sign the biggest money fights between fighters under a UFC contract than I think he has failed miserably as a promoter. For every million dollars he has made for Zuffa he is leaving a lot of those millions on the table by failing to close the deal.

Other than BJ Penn, White has been unable to convince any of his star fighters to take these bouts outside of their divisions. Why is that? I have heard rumors that Anderson Silva and Jon Jones are asking for $10 million and again these are only rumors and while that may sound crazy to some I think it is completely reasonable. Are these fights being held up simply due to money?

The UFC has come under a little bit of fire lately for its payment structure to fighters. The UFC can easily pay these fighters the rumored $10 million or whatever else it is they are looking for. However, I have to wonder if the UFC are more worried about fighters after these fights asking for more money and these big purses raising the budget? Why else would the UFC not be able to make these fights?

The UFC is playing with some major fire here. There is a very good chance that Jones, Silva, or GSP will lose their next fight. All three have very tough challenges ahead of them. Failing to close the deal on one of these fights in 2013 may wind up leaving millions and millions of dollars on the table that the UFC will never recover.

The fighters are playing it perfectly. Jon Jones is saying maybe but he is interested in fighting at heavyweight. Anderson Silva is saying he’d fight either one. Georges St-Pierre isn’t interested in moving up yet has leaks from his camp almost monthly saying otherwise. Intentional or not these are brilliant negotiating tactics from all of these fighters. Dana only helps them when he guarantees that these fights will happen and only looks like a failure when they don’t.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

Chael Sonnen Says He and Henderson Set Up Jon Jones

June 14, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 151 is the story that just won’t seem to go away. The infamous show fell through when Jon Jones refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice. Most criticized Jones but a new revelation by the American Gangster may change some opinions.

The beauty of Chael getting a weekly slot on UFC Tonight is that you just never know what he is going to say. Likely by design, Chael has been kind enough to offer up a juicy quote at least once a week on the Fuel TV UFC magazine show. His newest though is likely to open up some old wounds.

Jon Jones is still having a hard time winning fans months after refusing to defend the UFC light heavyweight title with short notice against Sonnen. Critics, including UFC president Dana White felt that Jones would have been had a massive advantage over Sonnen since Sonnen had not even been in camp. Jones’ team felt otherwise and accused Sonnen and Henderson of a conspiracy. Greg Jackson felt that Sonen had indeed been in camp and had been working with Hendo secretly to prepare for the fight well before Henderson officially withdrew. A new revelation from Sonnen supports that theory.

You know, it really got put together through Little Nog’s cowardice,” Sonnen said. “I’ve been training for Shogun for a while. I knew this was going to happen. This kind of reminds me of the time me and Dan Henderson set up Jon Jones on eight days’ notice.

Sonnen then turned to the camera and said, “he finally admitted it.

The one thing you have to always keep in mind with Chael is whether he is toying around with the media or if he is really telling the truth. If he is telling the truth, that would make his manager Mike Roberts a liar. Roberts was adamant back in September that Chael had not been in camp and would be coming into the fight with only one-week of training.

Everybody’s saying that Chael knew about Dan being hurt, that’s why he was talking about Jon (Jones). No, Chael was talking about Jon because Jon is the 205-pound champion and that is where Chael is shooting for; that’s who he wants to fight.”

Does it make you feel any different about Jones refusing the fight? I am going to guess that it does nothing to change the opinion of Dana White. I have always felt that Jones was getting much more blame about the show falling apart than he deserved. Knowing that he was being set up is just more reason to leave it alone and bury the incident once and for all.

If and this is a big if Chael is telling the truth, it is disappointing that nobody in the media ever picked up on this story. The same media that were brutalizing Jones for refusing the fight either didn’t do enough investigative work or were sworn to secrecy by Sonnen’s camp. Either way I wonder what the questions at that infamous conference call would have sounded like if someone in the media were able to corroborate the accusations from Jones’ camp.

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 Challengers Odds Of Beating Champions By Division

June 12, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Although there isn’t really much of a formula these days for deciding who gets title shots in the UFC, the promotion is in a somewhat strange place where there is a clear-cut number one contender in almost every division. With many of these matches prepared to go down in the coming months, let’s take a look at the challengers who have the best chance of upsetting the respective champions in their division.

Women’s Bantamweight Championship – Challenger: Miesha Tate vs. Champion: Ronda Rousey

Upset Odds: +500

Despite the fact that everyone is laughing at the excuse that Tate won the first two rounds of her fight against Cat Zingano as reason enough to have her getting a title shot, it remains true. It’s probably also true that she’ll be a tougher test for champion Rousey come fight time. In the end, that’s likely going to mean very little as neither one stands a great chance. Tate has been in the cage with Rousey before, so she knows what to expect, unfortunately she knew what to expect the first time but still got arm barred for her troubles. At the end of the day, I think Rousey needs to stop trying to arm bar people at every opportunity. As we saw against Liz Carmouche, the ladies are figuring out how to escape and take advantage of it. Rousey needs to do the same and start throwing some new wrinkles at her opponents, expect it to start against Tate. Takedowns and top control en-route to a punishing stoppage in the second round, then we can all congratulate Tate on being the first woman to make it to the second round.

Flyweight Championship – Challenger: John Moraga vs. Champion: Demetrious Johnson

Upset Odds: +450

Moraga has been openly campaigning in the media and calling the champion “boring.” This isn’t really a bad strategy for him, since getting in the champ’s head is never a bad idea. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to get a fighter as well coached as Demetrious Johnson riled up too much. Moraga is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and is a highly capable grappler, his striking is decent and he’s fast. The champion? He was a standout wrestler in high school, although he never translated that to NCAA success, however his striking is excellent and his hand and foot speed is second to none in the Flyweight division. Add to the fact Moraga has never competed in a five round fight before and Johnson excels in them and it’s going to be a long night for Moraga. Johnson is somewhat deserving of his reputation as a points fighter, but he moves in and out so quickly it’s hard to fault him for the strategy. I expect his output to actual increase as the fight goes on and as Moraga begins to fade late, I expect Johnson to really poor on the offense. Still, this one is probably headed for judge’s scorecards either way.

Interim Bantamweight Championship – Challenger: Eddie Wineland vs. Interim Champion: Renan Barao

Upset Odds: +450

Despite Wineland having a height advantage heading into this fight, he actually doesn’t have a reach advantage as both men possess a 70-inch reach. Wineland got this opportunity more as being the only one available who hadn’t faced Barao yet and is on a winning streak. The most important fights on Wineland’s ledger are his two recent losses to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez. In both of those fights Wineland enjoyed some initial success in the striking department, but he was quickly figured out by the two of them. Against Urijah Faber, Barao was completely dominant. Wineland has proven somewhat susceptible to leg kicks in past bouts and in that fight Barao blasted Faber with kicks. I expect a similar game plan against Wineland. Hobbled and stiff, I expect that Wineland’s offense slows down and Barao starts picking up the pace. Barao wins with an impressive flurry somewhere around round four or so.

Featherweight Championship – Challenger: Anthony Pettis vs. Champion: Jose Aldo

Upset Odds: EVEN

This bout actually has a line on it already and Pettis is currently slated as a +130 underdog. However, I think this bout is close to a true pick ‘em. Against Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo began to tire and slow down as the fight went on and some people felt that Edgar may have done enough to win that fight. I’d consider Pettis a very competent striker, even more well rounded than Edgar. Pettis also has underrated grappling skills and has fought and excelled in five round bouts in the past. In addition, this will be the first time that the champion Aldo has faced a fighter who may be quicker and more accurate than anyone he has faced before. I actually like Pettis in this fight. He’s aggressive, he won’t be intimidated, he’ll likely have a size advantage and he’s shown an ability to control opponents on the mat before. It’s still a close and dangerous fight for both guys. But I’ll take Pettis via decision.

Lightweight Championship – Challenger: TJ Grant vs. Champion: Benson Henderson

Upset Odds: +250

Grant doesn’t seem to possess any amazing skills or freak athleticism, but he has completely run through the Lightweight division since making the drop. Add to that, no one has really looked at all impressive against him and you have to at least consider the chance that he upsets Benson Henderson in this fight. Henderson is a talented wrestler who employs strong game plans in his fights, however it’s going to be hard to game plan against a fighter who hasn’t looked weak in any of his Lightweight fights. At Welterweight Grant was dominated by smothering wrestlers like Johny Hendricks and Dong Hyun Kim.  Despite his stellar wrestling credentials, Henderson isn’t likely going to be able to smother him like those Welterweights, he simply doesn’t have the size to do it. Still Henderson is probably the more technical striker, although Grant hits like a truck, but Henderson’s speed is excellent and he’s going to be very tough to hit. I honestly don’t have a prediction yet, but I’m leaning towards the champion.

Welterweight Championship – Challenger: Johny Hendricks vs. Champion: Georges St. Pierre

Upset Odds: +225

Knockout power, that’s probably the one reason that most people think that this fight is so close. Hendricks has knocked out a high number of the Welterweight contenders and many people think that he’s going to be able to do that to GSP. Still St. Pierre is one of the most dominant champions of all time in the UFC and is a master tactician who will certainly have a plan to avoid the big power punches of Hendricks. It’s also important to note that Hendricks himself is an accomplished wrestler, who GSP may have a hard time wrangling to the ground. The other thing going for the champion is that in his most recent bout against Carlos Condit is that Hendricks faded in the third round and looked incredibly hittable, if he fades like that against GSP it’s going to be tough for him to win. I usually root against GSP, as I might be the one Canadian guy who isn’t a fan of the champion, so I’ll definitely be doing so again. But I’m not so sure Hendricks has it in him to take this one.

Middleweight Championship – Challenger: Chris Weidman vs. Champion: Anderson Silva

Upset Odds: +200

I think this might be one of the closest title fights of the summer. Anderson Silva has looked like an unbeatable champion for most of his UFC career, save for the couple of bouts against Chael Sonnen. The good news for Weidman, is that he’s a highly capable wrestler and grappler who is capable of pulling off a similar game plan. Anderson is capable from his back and has pulled off a number of submissions from his guard, but Weidman is much more submission savvy than Chael Sonnen and won’t be easily caught in a triangle. Anderson Silva is still one of the best technical strikers in the world bar none, and with every round starting on the feet, the onus will be on Weidman to drag the champion to the mat at least once a round. If he can avoid the punishing clinch game of Silva, he has a shot, but he’s still facing Anderson Silva and you can’t consider him to be an underdog.

Light Heavyweight Championship – Challenger: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Champion: Jon Jones

Upset Odds: +400

This bout isn’t yet confirmed, but the young and talented Swede is looking like the most likely challenger to Jon Jones’ title. Gustafsson has only one loss in the UFC and in his entire career and it came against Phil Davis, who himself is a highly talented wrestler. Gustafsson is a talented striker, one of the best in the division, but one of his greatest strengths is his height and reach, which he uses to excellent effect. Against champion Jones, he will actually be at a significant reach disadvantage, likely for the first time in his career. Against a striker as talented and as unorthodox as Jones is, I could see this being a problem for Gustafsson. One of his other strengths has been his improving wrestling and grappling skills, which he has been working on since switching his training to Alliance MMA with Phil Davis and company. However, against a dominant wrestler like Jones, his improvements aren’t likely to be enough to win the ground battle. It could be an exciting bout, but I think another dominant win for the champion is in store.

Heavyweight Championship – Challenger: Junior dos Santos vs. Champion: Cain Velasquez

Upset Odds: +175

Out of all of the Heavyweights in the world, Junior dos Santos probably has the best chance of dethroning Cain Velasquez, in fact he’s done it once already. However, in the rematch he was soundly beaten by Cain and was dominated over five full rounds. I am of the belief that the second fight is more closely linked to both fighters full potential than their first encounter and I envision the rubber match going in similar fashion to the second. Cain’s wrestling is top notch and he’s one of the most athletic fighters in the Heavyweight division, with the ability to physically control and impose his will on many fighters who are significantly larger than him. His striking has also made vast improvements, to the point where he is definitely one of the top strikers in the division as well. Dos Santos still holds the edge in a pure kick boxing bout, but the threat of takedowns and clinch games, swings the advantage back to Cain. The one lingering issue is that Cain’s chin hasn’t looked overly impressive throughout his career and he’s been rocked in some of his past fights, dos Santos is a big time heavy hitter, who can knock out even the toughest of fighters, as he recently proved against Mark Hunt. So you always have to consider dos Santos live in the fight if he’s standing, I just don’t think Velasquez will give him much room to operate. I think he crowds and controls dos Santos en-route to another dominant performance.

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