The UFC worked hard this past weekend finalizing two big fights. Two fights that some hardcore MMA fans could dub “Dream Fights” are confirmed and will be heating up an already red hot summer for the UFC.
A battle of former champions will take place this July at UFC 148. Former Strikeforce champion Cung Le returns to action to take on former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin in a battle of middleweight stars at the MGM Grand.
[adinserter block=”2″]Franklin is returning to action after a 17-month layoff that saw him booked and removed from last summer’s UFC 133 show in Philadelphia. Franklin has been idle due to a shoulder injury although his name has popped up from time to time in rumored fights. Franklin will be returning to middleweight for the first time since he defeated Travis Lutter at UFC 83.
Cung Le returns to the UFC after a dazzling yet disappointing debut last year at UFC 139. Le was knocked out with 11 seconds remaining in the second round against MMA icon Wanderlei Silva. Le came to the UFC as a Strikeforce favorite, going 7-1, as one of the company’s top stars.
I am real intrigued by this fight. I have always been a big Le fan and I think Franklin is a great opportunity for him. Le should win a striking contest against the former champion, yet could have a difficult time if Franklin can take this one to the ground. The move back to middleweight is probably best for Franklin who is coming off a 1-2 record in the division.
In a fight that already has me pumped, Clay Guida will fight Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4. I think this clearly the strongest main-event on paper that the UFC has given any of the FX events. If matchups make great fights, this has the makings of a classic.
The lightweights will try and sort out a messy division which has been put on hold barring the result of the upcoming rematch between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson. Both fighters are coming off of exciting losses and will find themselves further away from an opportunity at the lightweight champion.
[adinserter block=”1″]On paper I would have to give the early edge to Maynard. As exciting as Guida is, he just can’t put the elite fighters away. He has had many opportunities that saw him one fight away from earning a title shot only to lose out to his opponent. Guida has become something of a gatekeeper to the champion. Although to be fair, he probably should have earned a title shot with his win over Anthony Pettis at the TUF 13 finale.
I have always liked Gray Maynard although he can be hit or miss in the excitement department. Frankie Edgar has been Maynard’s kryptonite as he rolled off eight wins in the division before his two championship matches against Edgar. I can’t imagine that the UFC would rush to make another Edgar vs. Maynard title fight if both guys win but you never know. Strange things happen and with the rash of injuries that the UFC is likely to see this year, these two guys could wind up back on opposing sides of the octagon sooner than you think.
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