In less than eight weeks time, all roads lead to Atlanta, GA, for the most eagerly awaited and highly anticipated fight card of the year—UFC 145.
The event is set to be stacked to the rafters with some of the most combative superlatives residing in Zuffa-based hierarchy.
And with that in mind, the Philips Arena is geared for an explosive night of edge-of-seat fueled action, where anything could happen.
And here’s why.
The third fight of the evening sees Brendan Schaub attempt to re-establish his place amongst the heavyweight elite when he locks horns with Ben Rothwell (31-8 MMA) who is currently 1-2 in the organization, and in dire need of a win.
“The Hybrid’s” had an uneventful debut for the Zuffa-based promotion—losing to Roy “Big Country” Nelson in The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweight Finale.
However, he followed that up with four consecutive wins, most notably against Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Filipović, before suffering a first-round KO courtesy of Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira at UFC 134.
“Big Ben” has 18 T/KO’s and 10 submissions whilst Schaub (8-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has scored seven stoppages in eight victories.
As both fighters are desperate for a win and coupled with the KO power on display, this fight could be over in a blink of an eye.
In one of two heavyweight clashes on this card, former Strikeforce resident Chad Griggs (11-1 MMA) makes his debut for the company against undefeated Travis Browne (12-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC).
Browne currently resides at No. 10 in the MMA heavyweight division, and a win will solidify his position in that weight class. Meanwhile, “The Grave Digger” who at present is riding a six-fight win streak, could supplant Browne’s position in the ranks with a victory.
It’s all to play for here.
In the co-main event, rising UFC prospect Rory McDonald takes on former Cage Rage British welterweight titlist Che “Urban Monkey” Mills, who has two notable wins against former DREAM 170-pound champion Marius Žaromskis.
A win for “Ares” will catapult him further up the rankings from his current spot of No. 10, while a victory for Mills will cement his place as a bona fide contender in the thronged welterweight assemblage.
The stakes are high for both fighters, so expect a blast.
Mark Hominick had it all going on when he gave featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo all he could ask for and then some when he lost a unanimous decision to the latter at UFC 129.
His overwhelming desire to win even with a hematoma-like bump on his head proved the Canadian fighter was a force to be reckoned with.
However, Chan Sung Jung of the twister fame came along a put paid to that—annihilating Hominick in seven seconds flat, which brought “The Machine’s” current record to 0-2 in as many outings
Conversely, Filipino-American combatant Eddie Yagin will attempt to make amends after losing a unanimous decision to Junior Assunção in his promotional debut at UFC 135.
This is a not-to-be-missed throwdown.
This match-up makes for great viewing—on the one hand is former WEC bantamweight titlist Miguel Torres (39-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) back in the mix following a Tweet gone wrong, an infraction that led to his subsequent dismissal from the organization.
On the other hand, 21-year-old Michael McDonald and MMA’s No. 6 ranked bantamweight, has been making a name for himself since he first set foot in the Octagon back in March 2011.
Both possess knockout power as evidenced by the eight stoppages they’ve scored apiece.
Whilst “Mayday” has just four submissions on his résumé, BJJ black-belt Torres has 23.
This fight will be a war of attrition, with the 31-year-old Torres pushing the young gun further than ever before in is his career, to ensure his placing in the division’s top 10.
Meanwhile, McDonald (14-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will be hell bent on keeping his seven-fight win streak intact, and if victorious, a title shot in the not-too-distant future beckons.
If reports are true that Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson are scheduled for a replay in April, the most likely event to stage the rematch would be at UFC 145.
And if that’s the case, this is a fight that the fanzine will look forward to with great gusto, given the controversy surrounding Johnson’s majority decision win in the semi-finals of the inaugural flyweight tourney at UFC on FX 2.
Needless to say, that decision was later overturned to a majority draw, and rightly so.
“Mighty Mouse” Johnson (14-2-1 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC) clearly believes he was the victor that night, whilst “Uncle Creepy” McCall (11-2-1 MMA, 0-0-1 UFC) assumed he’d done enough to take the win.
And as a consequence, there are scores to be settled in this rematch as well as a chance to vie for the 125-pound crown in the tournament finale against Joseph Benavidez.
This is without a doubt the most anticipated combative clash of 2012. The main event has “where were you when Jon Jones and Rashad Evans contested the UFC light heavyweight championship” written all over it.
Prior to becoming the youngest titlist in the history of the UFC at 23, “Bones” Jones and “Suga” Rashad were training partners and supposed friends at Greg Jackson’s gym.
However, that relationship went up in smoke when Jones made it clear he’d be willing to fight Evans if Dana White gave the go-ahead.
It was from thence that the animosity and ever-growing feud between the two began.
Rashad upped sticks from Jackson’s camp whilst Jones captured UFC gold. Projected fights between the two fell through due injuries sustained to both parties.
So far, Jones (15-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) has successfully defended his title on two separate occasions, and Rashad (17-1-1 MMA, 12-1-1 UFC) was victorious in his last outing against Phil Davis, subsequently booking his place in the main event of UFC 145.
The anticipation for this matchup is set to reach fever pitch before, during and after the night’s proceedings.
There is the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao superfight that fans would give an arm and leg to see, and then there’s Jones vs. Rashad.
For additional information, follow Nedu Obi on Twitter.