The UFC is gearing up for an explosive 2012. Several big fights are already in place along with some gigantic possibilities if certain chips should fall their way. So let’s take a look at what could be the ten biggest UFC fights of 2012.
A few notes before starting the list. One, this list is in no particular order. I didn’t think it would be fair to order the list when some of these fights may not even happen. Two, as stated above, not all fights are even close to guaranteed to happening in 2012 or ever. In some cases, these are just simply dream fights that need a lot of pieces to fall into place for them to happen. Finally I tried to only list fights that will or could happen as of this writing.
So with that said, let’s take a look at the Ten Biggest UFC Fights of 2012.
Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson for the UFC light heavyweight championship – A recent report indicated that this fight was highly considered for the canceled Montreal show. Yes Rashad Evans has been promised the next shot at Bones, but when has Rashad ever been able to stay healthy enough to jump immediately from one fight to the next? It looks like this will be the Plan B if Evans loses or is hurt.
Even if Evans wins and fights Jones, I still think Jones vs. Henderson happens this year. Henderson just signed a big contract and is coming off a big win streak. He has won himself new fans with the war of attrition he survived against Mauricio Shogun Rua (which would be on the list if I decided to go 11+). There is big money to be made here and if there is one thing the UFC is pretty good at doing it is cashing in on a fighter when he is hot. I think this fight happens and I think it goes down as one of the biggest of 2012.
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre – I left the championship off of this one because that will be dependent upon what Diaz does against Carlos Condit. Whether Diaz wins or loses, I think it is inevitable that his path crosses with GSP. Now the natural road back for St-Pierre would be an immediate rematch with the Condit-Diaz winner but let’s be honest. The money is much different in a Diaz vs. GSP fight with or without the title as opposed to GSP vs. Condit for the title. I think no matter what happens at UFC 143 that when GSP comes back, the first name on the dotted line will be Nick Diaz and it will go down as the biggest fight of GSP’s career and one of the tops of 2012.
Alistair Overeem vs. Cain Velasquez – Like Diaz vs. GSP, I think this one takes place at the end of the year no matter what. If Overeem loses, Dana White could make this another number one contender’s fight. If Overeem wins, I think Velasquez gets the championship fight with only one win. This is where the money is in the division, not JDS-Cain 2 or JDS-Overeem.
This would go down as one of the ultimate heavyweight dream fights, especially if Overeem wins against Dos Santos and this becomes a title fight. These two guys are often debated in MMA communities as to which is better and I think the UFC lets fans find out by the end of the year.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title – I know a lot of people that think this fight is going to be gigantic. I disagree. I think a lot of the air has been taken out of the balloon here. I think that there has been too much time between the night Jones won the title and the time that this fight takes place for it to reach the magnitude the UFC expects it to reach.
Will it be a big fight? Absolutely, but Evans first has to beat Phil Davis which I don’t think is nearly as much of a given as a lot of MMA analysts think. As big of a star as Jones is in the MMA community, his drawing power is still in question. Rashad can often be seen as a boring fighter and I think that has tempered the excitement a little bit in seeing something that would normally be huge. Either way if it happens it will certainly be one of the bigger fights of 2012, I just don’t think it will be as big as people think.
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight title – Jose Aldo helped make this one happen with his dominant performance at UFC 142. No offense to Frankie Edgar, but he has not been a draw as champion. Sadly that comes with the territory because at the end of the day, this is as much show as it is sport. That is why I think the UFC jumps at making this fight.
This has been talked about for awhile but circumstances have kept these guys apart. If Edgar gets past Ben Henderson in Japan, I think the UFC takes a serious look at this fight. Of course Edgar would have to drop down, but the buzz has been brewing for this fight for awhile. You will have two guys bringing impressive winning streaks into the octagon and who doesn’t love a champion vs. champion fight? I think this one happens by the end of the year and I think it winds up much bigger than people think.
Urijah Faber vs. Dominick Cruz for the UFC bantamweight title – This is a tough call. I went back and forth about putting this one on the list. Today, I don’t know how much interest there is in this one across the board. For me personally, I can’t wait as I named their 2011 fight the Fight of the Year in the Camel Clutch Blog MMA year-end recap. However, I think by fight night these two will have the people eating out of their hands.
They will coach against one another on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. I think both guys know exactly what they need to do and we see more of a Hughes-Serra dynamic than a JDS-Brock dynamic. I don’t think it gets to the Tito-Ken/Chuck level, but I think they create enough drama to turn this afterthought into one of the biggest grudge fights of 2012.
Alistair Overeem vs. Junior Dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title – We are months away from seeing these two heavyweight sluggers clash and people are already buzzing for the fight. Overeem became an overnight star with his one-sided brutal destruction of Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. Junior Dos Santos became arguably a bigger star with his one-sided brutal destruction of Cain Velasquez in the most watched fight in UFC history. Throw in the idea of seeing the undefeated Strikeforce champion vs. the UFC champion and you have yourselves a fight that will likely be the biggest fight of the year if Sonnen vs. Silva 2 doesn’t happen.
Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort II for the UFC middleweight title – At first glance you probably aren’t that excited about this one. However, by the time this one takes place you will probably be thinking much differently. This has the potential to be one of the top five blockbusters of 2012.
As stated above, the plan on paper is for Silva vs. Sonnen 2 but that all rides on Sonnen beating Munoz. If not, Munoz gets the title shot and while I think it will be a great fight, I think the Spider takes that one. That would leave Silva and Vitor open to fight at the end of the year in a championship fight, likely in Brazil. By that time I think the hype will be at such hysterics that this rematch could do big numbers and close the UFC out with a bang.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight title – How could we forget about this one? I know what Dana White says about Strikeforce fighters staying in Strikeforce but I also know what he has said over the last several months and that is that the UFC wants Gilbert Melendez!
As I said earlier, Edgar is not a big draw but I think there is a great dynamic here to parlay into a grudge match. Melendez has been calling Edgar out now since the merger. The drama surrounding Edgar finally accepting and the UFC pumping up Melendez as a huge MMA star has enormous potential. I think this fight happens either this year or next year depending upon how tied the UFC is at keeping Melendez in Strikeforce. If it happens this year, lookout for this lightweight championship dream fight to surprise some people at the box office.
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