The UFC will be gearing up for one of its most exciting winter seasons in years. With three UFC championship matches and a heavyweight collision for the ages, the UFC is posed for one of its most exciting winters in company history.
The UFC have borrowed pro wrestling’s “card subject to change” a lot lately due to a collection of injuries which have taken a number of fights off the summer and fall schedule. The good news is that summer and fall losses are winter’s gain.
Keeping in mind recent history of match changes, here is a quick UFC 2011 winter 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.
Finally, as of this writing there are no matchups available past the UFC 143 show. Unfortunately I’ll have to end the winter preview there, whereas technically winter doesn’t end until March. To make up for it, I’ll start a little early since winter doesn’t officially begin until December 22.
The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale, December 3, Las Vegas, NV
The final The Ultimate Fighter season on Spike TV comes to an end in a big way on December 3. Head coaches Michael Bisping and Jason Miller will headline the live telecast in a middleweight main-event. In addition to the battle of coaches, you will also get your usual TUF final and a few fights sprinkled in with this season’s cast members.
Personally, I could care less about Bisping or Mayhem. Neither of these guys are exciting fighters with unappealing personalities to boot. Bisping is the better fight in my opinion and I expect him to win a long, drawn out decision over the returning UFC fighter.
Last season’s TUF winner Tony Ferguson will also fight live on the broadcast. Ferguson will fight MMA veteran Yves Edwards in what is likely a semi-final or co-headliner spot. This should be a high paced fight with lots of stand up action. I am much more interested in this fight than the battle between the coaches.
UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida December 10 Toronto, Ontario
So long TUF 14 and welcome UFC 140. Talk about a card you can really sink your teeth into. The main-event features one of the most intriguing fights of the year between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former champion Lyoto Machida. Machida steps in for an injured Rashad Evans as the challenger to champion. Some argue that Machida has the best chance of beating Jones in the division. Jones will arguably have his toughest task to date in what could go down as one of the most exciting fights of the year.
Former UFC champions Tito Ortiz and Frank Mir return to action underneath. Mir will rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira while Little Nog will fight Ortiz in a fight that was scheduled to take place months ago. Throw in fights featuring Rory MacDonald and Mark Hominick underneath and you have one of the most solid shows of the year on paper.
The UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida scheduled fight card…
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida
Frank Mir vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
Tito Ortiz vs. Antônio Rogério Nogueira
Rory MacDonald vs. Brian Ebersole
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Igor Pokrajac
John Makdessi vs. Dennis Hallman
Claude Patrick vs. Rich Attonito
Mark Bocek vs. Nik Lentz
Mitch Clarke vs. John Cholish
This has the potential to be the biggest non-title heavyweight fight in UFC history. You have two bulldozers in Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem stepping inside the octagon in what some have labeled the ultimate heavyweight dream fight. If you are looking for heavy hitters and high intensity, this is certainly the fight for you.
UFC 141 won’t have nearly the same support underneath that UFC 140 or even the TUF 14 finale will have. Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz co-headlines the event, which is pretty weak if you ask me. Jon Fitch also returns to action that night taking on Johny Hendricks in a fight that could go either way in terms of excitement. Other than that, this is a one-fight show. Fortunately for the UFC that one fight is certainly worth the price of an entire pay per view.
The UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem scheduled fight card…
Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem
Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Sean Pierson
Jacob Volkmann vs. TJ Grant
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Diego Nunes
Junior Assunção vs. Ross Pearson
UFC 142: Aldo vs. Ebersol, January 14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The UFC returns to Brazil after a successful summer show with a tentative event announced for January 14. We are a little far out to get any kind of a full card, but the main-event has already been leaked and it is certainly an interesting one.
Jose Aldo will defend the UFC featherweight championship in front of his hometown crowd against number one contender Chad Mendes. As of this writing, this is the headliner. However, I would be shocked not to see a stronger main-event added in the next couple of weeks. Coming off such a strong lineup the first time around, this would be a major disappointment if this were the main-event.
Brazilian MMA superstar Vitor Belfort will return home to fight the division debuting Anthony Johnson. This has potential for some real fireworks and you would have to think that Belfort would want to give his hometown fans a show to remember. While the title match will likely go on last, I would certainly put this fight above it as the ticket seller. In Brazil, Belfort is regarded as the biggest current superstar in MMA. Paying money to watch this show headlined by Belfort in Brazil may work, but they are going to have to make some additions if they expect fans in America to pay money to watch this event on pay per view.
The UFC 142 scheduled fight card…
Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson
Thiago Tavares vs. Sam Stout
Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim
Fabio Maldonado vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Erick Silva vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio
Felipe Arantes vs. Antonio Carvalho
UFC On FX 1, January 20
As if the winter isn’t stacked already, the UFC will make its live debut on FX on January 20. The show features a dandy in the headline spot with Melvin Guillard vs. Jim Miller in a welterweight fight. Guillard is coming off a loss after being closer to the championship than ever, while Miller is coming off a decision loss to top contender Benson Henderson.
The UFC on FX 1 scheduled fight card…
Jim Miller vs. Melvin Guillard
Duane Ludwig vs. Josh Neer
Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft
Kamal Shalorus vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Reza Madadi vs. Rafaello Oliveira
UFC On Fox 2, January 28
The main-event will match up light heavyweights Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. Their previous fight was scrapped after Davis got hurt. This is a big fight and a huge gamble for Evans and the UFC, with a money fight against Jon Jones on the table. If the UFC was going for a fight that would last more than the debut headliner, well they certainly found it with Jones and Evans.
MMA’s biggest mouth Chael Sonnen will make his Fox debut as he takes on middleweight grappler Mark Munoz. The idea behind this one is that the winner will move at the top of the line to fight Anderson Silva for the championship. This should be a real exciting fight with two guys that have strong games both on the ground and on their feet.
The scheduled UFC on Fox 2 fight card…
Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Munoz
Michael Bisping vs. Demian Maia
Evan Dunham vs. Paul Sass
Michael Johnson vs. Cody McKenzie
Cub Swanson vs. George Roop
John-Olav Einemo vs. Mike Russow
Demetrious Johnson vs. Eddie Wineland
UFC 143: St-Pierre vs. Diaz February 4 Las Vegas, NV
The UFC will bring in the big guns on Super Bowl weekend with arguably the most anticipated UFC championship fight of the last twelve months. After a lot of match changes and game playing, the UFC will finally give the fans the fight they want on Super Bowl weekend as Georges St-Pierre defends the UFC welterweight championship against Nick Diaz.
I thought this fight had the potential to be the biggest drawing GSP headliner at UFC 137. Now, I think this fight may have the potential to be the biggest drawing fight in UFC history. The UFC took a big gamble by placing Diaz in a fight with BJ Penn but not only did it payoff, but the post fight action took this championship fight to a whole new level. Now we are talking grudge match and grudge matches are the biggest sellers for the UFC.
In addition to the fantastic Dream Fight on top, Carlos Condit will also fight on the event. Jake Ellenberger is Condit’s rumored opponent, although that is not official. Exciting lightweights Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon are also rumored to be fighting underneath, although that fight has not been confirmed as of this printing.
Editor’s Note: GSP pulled out of the fight after this blog was published. Condit vs. Diaz is the new main event.
The scheduled UFC 143: St-Pierre vs. Diaz card..
UFC Interim Welterweight Championship bout: Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz
Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier
Alex Caceres vs. Edwin Figueroa
Jorge Lopez vs. Amir Sadollah
Rafael Natal vs. Michael Kuiper
UFC 144, February 28, Saitama, Japan
The UFC will make its long awaited return to Japan with a card that looks more like an Ultimate Fight Night special. There are rumors that this card will air live on FX, but those have not been confirmed. I sure hope it is airing for free somewhere, because there isn’t much worth paying for taking place on this day in Japan.
Benson Henderson will challenge Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight championship in the scheduled main-event. Both guys are coming off big wins and for hardcore MMA fans, this is a very enticing fight. It will be real interesting to see how Henderson handles Edgar’s unique fighting style, while it will be equally interesting to see how Edgar handles the power of Benson. I love this fight, but the reality is that it isn’t a fight that is going to sell many pay per view buys.
The card will feature Japanese UFC fighters Yushin Okami and Yoshihiro Akiyama. Former Pride FC star Rampage Jackson returns to Japan and will fight Ryan Bader. Call me crazy but I have the biggest hunch that this winds up as the main-event. Meanwhile Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis will go toe to toe on the undercard in a fight that has potential to be Fight of the Night.
UFC Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson
Quinton Jackson vs Ryan Bader
Cheick Kongo vs Mark Hunt
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Jake Shields
Joe Lauzon vs Anthony Pettis
Steve Cantwell vs Riki Fukuda
Yushin Okami vs Tim Boetsch
Kid Yamamoto vs Vaughn Lee
Takeya Mizugaki vs Chris Cariaso
Takanori Gomi vs George Sotiropoulos
Tiequan Zhang vs Leonard Garcia
Hatsu Hioki vs Bart Palaszewski
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