The UFC is gearing up for one of the hottest summers in company history. MMA fans will get six UFC shows to sink their teeth into over the next three months. The UFC saved the best for last as UFC 134 headlines the summer UFC events calendar.
The UFC have borrowed pro wrestling’s “card subject to change” a lot lately due to a collection of injuries which have taken some of UFC’s biggest summer fights off of the schedule. Four UFC champions will sit on the disabled list this summer giving way for a lot of top contenders to set the stage for the fall and winter of the UFC.
Keeping in mind recent history of match changes, here is a quick UFC 2011 summer events preview. Come back closer to fight day to read full previews of the cards. Today I take a look at the biggest fights of the summer and how they will impact future UFC matchups going forward.
The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale, June 4 Las Vegas, NV -
The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 will come to a close (couldn’t come fast enough) on June 4 pitting the welterweights finalists against one another for a UFC contract. In addition to the TUF 13 finals, one of the most exciting fighters in MMA takes the main-event spot as Clay Guida
returns to Spike TV to fight former WEC champion Anthony Pettis.
Guida vs. Pettis has the potential to be one of the most exciting fights in 2011. Guida rarely disappoints on Spike and has participated in some classics on free television including his war against Diego Sanchez in 2010. Pettis has been chomping at the bit to fight in the UFC, risking a title fight against Frankie Edgar to take the fight with Guida. I predict a standup war and if sitting through one of the dullest seasons of TUF in history to get to Guida vs. Pettis is the price to pay, I’d do it all over again.
The TUF 13 fight card…
TUF 13 Welterweight Finals
Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida
Jonathan Brookins vs. Jeremy Stephens
Ed Herman vs. Tim Credeur
Josh Grispi vs. George Roop
Scott Jorgensen vs. Ken Stone
UFC 131: Dos Santos vs. Carwin, June 11, Vancouver, British Columbia - The first real hit of the summer came when Brock Lesnar had to withdraw from his scheduled fight at UFC 131 against Junior Dos Santos. In my opinion, the UFC came up with the best case alternative offering up Shane Carwin as a replacement. Carwin vs. Dos Santos pits two of the heaviest hitters in the UFC against each other in a battle to determine the number one contender to champion Cain Velasquez. It won’t be as big of a spectacle as seeing Brock Lesnar fight but it has the potential to provide the kind of excitements that MMA fans expect from the heavyweight division.
Kenny Florian returns to the UFC after a lengthy absence at UFC 131. The former TUF 1 competitor will make his UFC debut at featherweight. There is certainly the intrigue of seeing Florian in faster division, but other than that the undercard doesn’t have a whole lot to offer. Also, former ADCC Submission Wrestling World champion Jon Olav Einemo makes his UFC debut against Dave Herman. The debut of Einemo gives the aging heavyweight division a badly needed fresh face and potentially a tough challenge for Cain Velasquez in the future.
The UFC 131: Dos Santos vs. Carwin fight card…
Junior dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin
Kenny Florian vs. Diego Nunes
Jon Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman
Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz
Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha
Sam Stout vs. Yves Edwards
Jesse Bongfeldt vs. Chris Weidman
Nick Ring vs. James Head
Dustin Poirier vs. Jason Young
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Darren Elkins
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Igor Pokrajac
Joey Beltran vs. Aaron Rosa
UFC on Versus 4: Marquardt vs. Johnson June 25, Pittsburgh, PA - The UFC completes their over saturated June schedule (and I am not even counting the Memorial Day weekend show on May 28) with its fourth show in five weeks. The UFC saves its best for last with what I think is a fairly loaded lineup for a free television broadcast.
Perennial UFC middleweight Nate Marquardt makes his UFC welterweight debut in the headliner against Anthony Johnson. Marquardt has never been the most exciting fighter so the idea of selling an event on his debut in another weight class is going to be tough, especially with so much going on in June. Am I really supposed to get excited about Marquardt working towards a potential snoozer with GSP? Although to be fair, I think Johnson is good enough to push the fight and get Marquardt out of his comfort zone.
Cheick Kongo returns to competition after a lengthy layoff. Kongo is one of those guys that I look at on paper who should be a top contender yet can never seem to get past that hump of mid-great competition. I think the same of Pat Barry who really should be on to bigger things if not for the Cro Cop upset. This fight has the potential to be just as boring as it could be exciting. I am hoping that Barry pushes the pace here but my gut tells me that Barry tries to ground Kongo who is practically defenseless off of his feet to a three round decision.
Martin Kampmann and Matt Mitrione also fight on the undercard. Both of those guys are generally exciting fighters so at least on paper, this show has enormous potential. Of course when it comes to the main-event fights it has the same potential to hit the crapper as well.
The UFC on Versus 4 fight card…
Nate Marquardt vs. Anthony Johnson
Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry
Martin Kampmann vs. John Howard
Matt Mitrione vs. Christian Morecraft
Tyson Griffin vs. Manvel Gamburyan
Joe Stevenson vs. Javier Vazquez
Joe Lauzon vs. Curt Warburton
Matt Brown vs. Rich Attonito
Nik Lentz vs. Charles Oliveira
Ricardo Lamas vs. Matt Grice
Michael Johnson vs. Edward Faaloloto
UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber 2, July 2, Las Vegas, NV - The good news here is that the UFC finally hits fans with a main-event worth paying for. The bad news is that this main-event comes after an onslaught of five shows in six weeks. The burnout factor may be too much for even Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz to overcome but both guys are doing their best promotional jobs to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Cruz vs. Faber 2 will be a real test here for the UFC to see if the large spectrum of MMA fans will pay $50 to watch the smaller guys headline a pay per view. I think there are enough hardcore MMA fans excited about this fight that it will do better than people think. Add in the promos Cruz and Faber have been cutting on each other with highlights from both fighter s and you just may be able to get enough attention to turn this into a successful pay per view.
As for the fight itself, I couldn’t think of a better fight all summer to spend my $50 on. These two guys have the potential to throw down and give the UFC fans a war. UFC fan favorites Wanderlei Silva and Chris Leben will also go toe to toe in a fight that fans have been demanding for years. Throw in Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader and you have a fairly solid card here.
The UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber 2 card…
Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber
Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben
Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader
Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wian
Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller
George Sotiropoulos vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Brian Bowles vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Jason Miller vs. Aaron Simpson
Nigeria Anthony Njokuani vs. Andre Winner
Erik Koch vs. Cub Swanson
UFC 133: Evans vs. Davis, August 6, Philadelphia, PA - The UFC finally gives their live event crew a few weeks off with a five week break following UFC 132. The UFC returns to Philadelphia with a show lacking a star-studded main-event, yet supported by one of the best fight cards of the summer.
In addition to UFC 131, 133 was the other summer casualty thanks to the injury bug. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones pulled out of a title defense with Rashad Evans due to questionable circumstances. The UFC scrambled and signed Phil Davis to take Jones’ place pitting two of the best light heavyweights in the division against one another. As great as this fight sounds on paper I have no confidence that I will see an exciting fight out of Rashad Evans. It has been a long time since he has given the UFC fans a fun fight so why expect it now?
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Fans may not get a great fight in the main-event, but two undercard matchups have enormous potential to be great fights. Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin returns to action to take on Antônio Rogério Nogueira. Nogueira really needs a win here to keep his UFC contract so anything less than a maximum effort would surprise me. Vitor Belfort also returns to action to take on Yoshihiro Akiyama. After suffering an embarrassing loss to Anderson Silva, Belfort needs an exciting win here if he expects to remain in the championship mix.
Jorge Rivera, Vladimir Matyushenko, Nam Phan, and Mike Brown always bring the potential to have exciting fights and all will be featured on the UFC 133 undercard. UFC 133 is a far cry from the UFC’s last Philadelphia effort which featured Forrest Griffin vs. Anderson Silva and a B.J. Penn lightweight title defense. Yet with a break in events and a show sprinkled with familiar names, I’d be surprised if this one disappointed.
The UFC 133: Evans vs. Davis fight card…
UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami, August 23, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -
Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
Rich Franklin vs. Antônio Rogério Nogueira
Jorge Rivera vs. Alessio Sakara
Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole
Johny Hendricks vs. Mike Pierce
Riki Fukuda vs. Rafael Natal
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson
Mike Brown vs. Nam Phan
Ivan Menjivar vs. Nick Pace
Mike Pyle vs. Rory MacDonald
The UFC saves arguably the best for last this summer with its long awaited return to the home of BJJ. The UFC will celebrate its return to Brazil with a star-studded fight card featuring three of the biggest MMA fighters ever to call Brazil home.
I don’t think it gets any bigger than Anderson Silva defending the UFC middleweight championship against the last man to beat him in his home country. Silva’s notoriety is at an all time high in Brazil following his win over Vitor Belfort in the battle of Brazilian UFC stars. The home town atmosphere combined with a rematch against the last man to defeat the unbeatable Silva promises to be the biggest spectacle of the summer.
Silva will be joined by two fellow Brazilian MMA heroes at UFC 134. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Shogun Rua returns to action after his devastating loss to Jon Jones. Rua takes on fellow former champion Forrest Griffin in a rematch of Rua’s debut. Griffin defeated Rua with a rear naked choke in a classic four years prior so the storyline combined with the homecoming should provide a great atmosphere for this long awaited rematch.
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira also returns home to fight up and comer Brendan Schaub. The BJJ God will be fighting his first professional fight in Brazil at UFC 134. The intensity for this one should be off the charts and will make for an exciting fight whether it goes to the ground or the two stay on their feet. Talk about throwing Schaub into the lion’s den. Like his brother, Nogueira desperately needs a win here, although I can’t imagine he’d be cut with a loss. The former UFC interim champion has gone 3-2 in the UFC, 1-2 in his last fights. Nogueira is hanging on by a thread right now in the mix of top UFC heavyweights so a loss here likely takes him out of the running for any potential championship match in the near future or ever.
The UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami fight card…
Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami
Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub
Ross Pearson vs. Edson Barboza
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Thiago Tavares vs. Spencer Fisher
Paulo Thiago vs. David Mitchell
UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones DVD
Form Athletics Jon Jones UFC 128 Walkout T-Shirt
Brock Lesnar’s autobiography – Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival
UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com
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