Ok, I did it. A while back, I wrote a similar piece and prefaced it by stating that fighters would probably get hurt along the way. Well, we got through Jones vs Evans, which I was thankful for since the piece was posted not-too-long before the event itself. Then the voodoo-training Gods just unmercifully struck down numerous fighters (and as a result, entire cards) with injuries. While I doubt Dana and Joe Silva get paid overtime, something tells me they’d be living off a steady diet of Five Hour Energy and takeout over the past few months if they did (I wouldn’t worry about their wallets though, folks. Something tells me they’ll be just fine). With arguably the biggest fight of the year set for tomorrow night, here is a follow up to that ill-fated March piece with an updated schedule.
UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II
This one? THIS ONE is easily one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history. You’ve probably seen the first fight (and if not, damn you and all that you stand for) by now: Sonnen outworked, outwrestled and, gasp, out struck Silva for over four rounds back in August 2010 at UFC 117 until Silva’s triangle-armbar in the final frame produced one of the greatest comebacks of all-time. Sure, Sonnen’s suspension prolonged the second act a little longer than many had hoped, but the silver lining is that in the interim, fans have forgiven Silva for the Cote-Leites-Maia trilogy of flops since he’s returned to full-on “Matrix” mode and dissected Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami. Now that Sonnen has had time to trash everything that Silva stands for including his abilities, family, country and training partners, Silva unleashed an uncharacteristic string of threats to “break his face and every one of the teeth in his mouth.” The greatest fighter on the planet is capable of making great fighters seem amateur when he’s calm and stoic. Can you imagine what he might do when he’s focused but incredibly pissed off?
UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao
Oh, 149. You’ve been changed more times than an infant with a stomach bug. Over the past two months, the main event lineup has been changed half a dozen times until finally the card was set with Faber vs. Barao as the headliner for the UFC Interim Bantamweight Title (champ Dominick Cruz is currently recovering from injury). Faber would love to walk into the rubber match with Cruz in a “unification” situation (ok, we all know the interim titles are more marketing ploys than anything, but let’s just go with it) and Barao has been undefeated under the Zuffa banner in both UFC & WEC so this should be an exciting fight. Plus, with a post-Bellator Hector Lombard and Canadian stud Ryan Jimmo both making debuts, this may not set PPV numbers on fire, but will definitely give the fans in Calgary a solid showing. With that, I issue an open challenge to anyone fighting on this card to walk out to Bret Hart’s theme music.
UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2
Frankie Edgar seems to be the king of lightweight title rematches. After losing the belt to Bendo at UFC 144 back in February, it seems as though the MMA community and UFC brass wanted him to move down to 145 to face Jose Aldo for the Featherweight crown for what seems to be the most entertaining title fight at 145 right now. Instead, Edgar campaigned his way to a rematch at 155 in what I’m sure will be the last LW title rematch for a while with contenders like Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis waiting in the wings (ok, no one come back and say “But Pettis and Bendo would be a rematch from the WEC LW title fight!” Different time, different place, different organization technically). Both men are capable of putting on “Fight of the Night” performances every time they step into the Octagon (their last scrap was a “FOTN” winner and they’ve collected 9 such honors total between their two UFC careers so far). I am a betting man and I’d definitely put them as the front-runner to earn the bonus again.
UFC 151: Jones vs. Henderson
Back-to-back PPVs headlined by a Henderson. I figured I’d just draw everyone’s attention to that fun fact before we move forward. In one corner we have the champ, Jon Jones, who is quickly becoming the greatest LHW of all time, having defeated four former champs in a row over the span of a year. In the other, you have Henderson, a former champ in his own right, who’s won five in a row with four by TKO/KO and the fifth being what many consider to be one of the greatest fights in the history of the sport – a UD victory over Shogun Rua at UFC 139. Despite his age, Hendo has never been finished due to strikes and always has that “H-bomb” right hand loaded and ready to go. If that impeccable chin holds up and he can somehow get inside Jones’ gangly reach, he might have true puncher’s chance. We’ll find out in September.
The rumor floating around that dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 for the heavyweight championship was going to be the main event at 152 in Toronto, but Dana White recently said that’s not the case. BJ Penn will, however, “un-retire” (I prefer to think of it as a long layoff since I personally didn’t think he was done for good) against Canada’s own Rory Macdonald on that card. You never know which BJ Penn is going to show up, but I do know Macdonald is game wherever he is so I’d imagine he’ll want to give the hometown crowd a show and continue his ascent up the welterweight depth chart toward a title shot.
Speaking of Canada, UFC 154, tentatively slated for November 17, is supposed to mark the return of Canada’s golden boy George St-Pierre in a title unification bout against the only man to beat Rory Macdonald, current interim champ Carlos Condit. GSP’s injury has both unlocked a somewhat stagnant division and yet also left it in flux since we all know he is the rightful champ. Add to that card a #1 contender’s fight between 2012’s magic man Martin Kampmann and Johnny Hendricks and we should go into 2013 with a definitive champ and challenger for the spring.
…or heck, more injuries could happen and these could all change. At the rate we’re going this year, I sincerely hope everyone stays healthy (*throws voodoo doll into burning fire*).
UFC 117: Silva v. Sonnen DVD
UFC: The Ultimate 100 Greatest Fight Moments
UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com
Introducing the Official UFC Apparel of Jon Jones! Walkout Shirt & Performance Gear.