What’s up my peeps! Rickebones here…
Say what you will about the UFC cards of days past, but the next 3 months of UFC Pay-Per-Views symbolize arguably the most stacked line-up of cards in the post-Zuffa era. Not only do we see the conclusion of a trilogy between two of the most dominant heavyweights, the combats sports world has ever seen as UFC Heavyweight Champ Cain Velasquez looks to defend his belt against number one contender and former champion, Junior Dos Santos. But, we are also privileged to see a welterweight championship clash between longtime champ Georges St. Pierre and what could be his toughest test to date in the hard hitting Johny Hendricks, a female UFC Bantamweight Championship grudge match between current TUF coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, and last but not least, a possible changing of the guard fight between current UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman and who many consider the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva. Yes, is truly an amazing time to be a fan of not only the UFC, but mixed martial arts as a sports fan. A while these are all must see events that all make the MMA grade, they hold different implications and feature different fighters, therefore, may appeal to different people. Let’s take a look at the biggest cards closing out 2013, in an attempt to determine the pound for pound pay-per-view most guaranteed to knock your socks off.
UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III
There is something special about a good rivalry in combat sports that resonates with fight fans. The Ali/Frazier’s, Liddell/Couture’s and in this case the Dos Santos/Velasquez’s to me embodies what makes being a fight fan worth while. Two men performing on the biggest stage imaginable, after training for years to get to this one moment, with at one point in their collection of fights, tasting the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. The competitive rivalry between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez possesses all of these elements, with one unique trait. Both victories for each of the fighters involved in this soon to be epic trilogy were both very dominant, yet extremely different. The first fight between the two heavyweight juggernauts took place at the inaugural UFC on FOX on November 12th, 2011 and interestingly enough was the only fight featured on the broadcast. What many thought would be a war of attrition between two of the divisions most talented athletes became a very short affair, with Dos Santos knocking out Velasquez in just 64 seconds into the fight, leaving the 11,607 in attendance at the Honda Center in disbelief. Their next meeting would favor Cain Velasquez but aesthetically be vastly different. Using NCAA Division I caliber wrestling, Velasquez controlled and battered Dos Santos for 5 brutal rounds, almost finishing the then champ on a few different occasions, en route to a unanimous decision victory. Which leads us to why the third installment of this already classic rivalry is likely to give you your bang (literally) for your buck. With the first two fights looking so different yet producing dominant results, it’s hard to gauge who has the clear cut path to victory. Junior Dos Santos could end the fight at any moment with his heavy hands and crisp boxing, while Cain Velasquez can use his methodical blend of wrestling, striking and cardio to wear down his opponent and finish in later rounds. Regardless as a fight fan, or a fan of competition at the highest level in general, this third installment is something that will have people talking regardless the outcome.
UFC 166 “Quick Hits”
- Can Daniel Cormier put in a dominating performance over Roy “Big Country” Nelson and erase the bad taste out of the mouth’s of fans left from his UFC debut against Frank Mir?
- Will Gilbert Melendez be able to come back from his heart breaking loss to then champion Benson Henderson and make a statement for another shot at the belt with a dominant win over Diego Sanchez?
- Will Hector Lombard be able to reinvent himself at welterweight and prove that he is not a UFC bust when he fights the always tough and prepared Nate “The Great” Mardquardt?
UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks
I am going to keep this one short and sweet, because to me this card is a no-brain’er as far as potential entertainment value. George St. Pierre is and still remains as one of the most forces the UFC Octagon has ever seen. A mix of speed, cardio, strength and heart that may not come around again in this century. He has fought a murderer’s row of opponents, and though it may not always be the prettiest victories, he finds ways to win. Enter Johny Hendricks. A former Division I All American wrestler out of OSU, who oddly enough, is known more for his knockout power than his actual MMA wrestling. With the nickname “Big Rigg”, which is appropriate since he hits like a Mack truck, Hendricks has essentially cleared out any formidable contenders at 170, either by knockout or dominating fashion. He not only has the power to finish St. Pierre, but also NCAA Division I All-American wrestling, to neutralize GSP’s take down’s and keep the fight standing where he is most comfortable. To many media and fans, Johny Hendricks could be the guy to put George St. Pierre’s now historic welterweight title reign to bed. You couple that with a card stacked with big names and divisional implications and you have a card that will be talked about for years to come. Oh yeah, this is also the card that commemorates the UFC’s 20th anniversary so game, set, match…
UFC 167 “Quick Hits”
- Will Chael Sonnen show that he belongs in the Light Heavyweight division with a win over “UFC Tonight” co-host Rashad Evans?
- After a lackluster fight with Jake Ellenberger, welterweight phenom Rory MacDonald gets thrown to the wolves as he steps in against the surging, heavy handed, vet Robbie Lawler. Can “Aeres” continue his ascent up the UFC welterweight ladder or will Lawler prove to be too ruthless for him?
- It’s do or die between two battle tested heavyweight vets when Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem step into the cage for a loser leaves town fight. Does Mir have anything left in the tank and can “The Reem” prevent himself from being the greatest UFC bust in the history of the promotion?
UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva II
Yes it happened, I was there… For all of the people still in disbelief over Chris Weidman’s shocking knockout upset over Anderson Silva, who think that Industrial Light & Magic somehow CGI’ed the left hook that sent “The Spider” crumbling to the floor, rest assured that it was heart and skill (Not computers) that contributed to the outcome of one of the shocking moments in UFC history. But to Anderson fans who are still contemplating whether to use arsenic or a 22., I have good news. They are going to go at it again on December 28th in Las Vegas in a card that is shaping up to be a memorable one, and not just for the main event. It will also feature a co-main event between bitter rivals and current TUF coaches, current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and number one contender Miesha Tate. But let’s be serious here, it’s the fight after that one that we are all anxious to see. Will this be a true changing of the guard fight as Chris Weidman shows the world that the UFC’s Middleweight division has passed Anderson “The Spider” Silva bye? Or will Anderson Silva rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and show how a motivated, focused, humble spider can still take any opponent into “The Matrix”? This fight is difficult to pick, and that’s probably the main contributing factor to it being so intriguing. But I can tell you this, December 28th can’t come fast enough!
UFC 168 “Quick Hits”
- Does former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett have one more title run left in him? Or will Travis “Hapa” Browne show the world that he is a legitimate challenger for the UFC Heavyweight strap?
- Will Uriah Hall pass the test Dana White has set in front of him and show the killer instinct that made him a star on The Ultimate Fighter, or will he be crippled by the always dangerous Chris Leben?