The UFC is currently going through an extended period of inactivity.
The last UFC event on March 2nd ended with a spectacular come-from-behind submission victory for Martin Kampmann. It was an exciting fight, with an exciting finish.
And then there was nothing.
No Pay Per View cards. No UFC on Fox, FX or Fuel TV.
Sure, The Ultimate Fighter 15 has started. The fights are even aired live on Friday nights. It's a very cool idea. It's just not the same as getting amped up for a night of fights with people you've actually heard of before.
Luckily for us, the UFC will be back on April 14th with the UFC on Fuel TV 2.
From that point on for the foreseeable future, the UFC is going to be producing events at a fast and furious pace.
The list of great fights on these cards is nearly endless.
Today, we'll discuss the eight scheduled fights that I am most looking forward to.
Didn't we just see these two guys fight?
Oh wait, that's right, we did.
"Mighty Mouse" Johnson.
No wait, the judge can't add, it's a draw.
I thought there was a victory round just in case there was a draw?
There was. But it took so long to realize the mistake and now it's too late.
OK, let's make them fight again in three months.
And so went the debacle Down Under. It was a cluster, indeed.
Which leads us to the June 8th rematch of the draw that was briefly a win.
Demetrious Johnson was a very heavy favorite in the initial match up with "Uncle Creepy" McCall. However, McCall came to fight and was able to match the effort put out by Johnson in their flyweight tournament bout.
I expect the second go-around between these two 125-pound fighters to be nothing short of exhilarating. Both men will throw punch after punch, and they both have the cardio to keep it up for days.
With neither fighter likely to score a finish, I'd venture to say that the real pressure in this fight is going to be on the judges. After double-checking the score card, I'm picking Uncle Creepy to win by the slimmest of margins.
Set for April 21st, the light heavyweight title fight between Rashad "Suga" Evans and Jon "Bones" Jones is an extremely intriguing match-up.
The disdain that these two men have is the kind of disdain that only two men who were formerly the best of friends could have.
At the top of their weight class, it looked for a period of time, at least, that this is a fight that would never happen.
Evans had long claimed that he and Jones were too close personally to ever square off against one another professionally.
That is until Bones laid down the gauntlet and said that he would fight anyone, and that included his training partner and pal.
Evans is a heavy underdog according to the Las Vegas and off shore sports books. I've seen his betting line as high as +400 against Jones' huge chalk line of -500.
Jones is hands-down the most athletic fighter in the 205-pound division and carries an impressive 15-1 record into the cage. His lone blemish coming after he was disqualified for illegal downward elbows to the face of Matt Hamill, a fight which he had dominated for the entire 4:14 that it had lasted.
Evans will enter the Octagon with a record of 17-1-1. For the better part of the last six years, Evans' opponents have been a virtual who's who of the UFC. Having notched wins over Chuck Liddell, Forest Griffin, Michael Bisping and Quinton Jackson, among others, speaks volumes for the kind of fighter that Evans is.
Evans has been at the fight game a long time and I believe him when he says that his experiences, training with Jones will allow him to emerge victorious.
My pick is Rashad Evans by split decision.
I'm really looking forward to this fight. On May 5th, Nate Diaz will take on Jim Miller in a fight that will surely catapult the winner into the title contender mix.
Diaz-vs.-Miller is going to be an exhibition of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at its finest. Both men have honed this craft exceptionally well.
While Nate Diaz is probably better known as Nick's brother, he is coming off the two best fights of his career.
Diaz followed up a first-round arm-bar submission victory over Takanori Gomi with three rounds of complete and utter domination of Donald Cerrone. In 22 career fights, Diaz has been finished only once and that was by submission, more than five years ago. On the flip side, Diaz has finished 13 of his 15 wins, nine of which have come via submission.
His opponent, Jim Miller, however, has not been finished once in his 24 career fights. Miller has, however, shown a penchant for finishing a high percentage of his opponents. In fact, 12 of Miller's 21 wins have come via some form of submission while another three were knock out victories.
I expect to see this fight go the distance, as both men will be equal to the others submission attempts.
The question is, who comes out on top?
In this one, I like Nate Diaz as an underdog winning via decision. I think that his up-tempo style and his brother's famous style, punches in bunches will be enough to swing the points and the fight, in his direction.
Have you seen the names on the May 26th fight card?
Everyone knows that the UFC likes to put on big shows for Memorial Day and 4th of July, but I'd say, this is taking that sentiment a bit too literally.
The first-ever all-heavyweight main card is being headlined by none other than challenger Alistair Overeem and UFC heavyweight champion, Junior Dos Santos.
I sure hope they have a back up scale for that Friday's weigh-ins...just in case.
Obviously, though, the main event on the most anticipated fight card of the year will make this list.
People love to watch heavyweights fight.
Overeem is a gargantuan man. He dominated Brock Lesnar in the minutes that their fight lasted and showed his superior size and strength in that fight when putting Lesnar against the cage.
Dos Santos is not as big as Overeem but at 6'4 and just about 240 pounds he's more mountain than he is hill.
Overeem has not been involved in a fight that has gone the distance in nearly five years.
Dos Santos has had only two of his 15 career fights end in decision.
And both of those decisions, one against Shane Carwin and one against Roy Nelson, left his opponents so mangled that each looked like Rocky Balboa at the beginning of Rocky II.
Yes folks, this is a hotly anticipated fight and it won't last very long. If they get into the fourth minute of the first round I'd consider myself surprised.
One man will throw a knockout blow.
Despite Dos Santos' domination of the heavyweight division, I firmly believe that Alistair Overeem is the baddest MMA heavyweight walking the planet today and he will assert himself as such when he scores a first round knockout of the champion Dos Santos.
Another fight on the May 26 heavyweight card will pit two former champions against one another. Frank Mir will take on Cain Velasquez.
For Mir, it will be his first time in the cage since his arm snapping submission win over Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.
For Velasquez, it will mark his first fight since losing the heavyweight title to Junior Dos Santos on the first-ever UFC on Fox event in November 2011.
Mir, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound submission specialist is riding a wave of momentum, having scored three consecutive victories, is looking to earn himself another shot at the title.
On the flip side, we'll see Velasquez who is attempting to rebound from his first setback as a professional. The fact that this fight very easily could be a No. 1-contender fight makes feeds into the anticipation.
However, as much a factor as that is, I believe the two distinctly different fighting styles makes the match extremely intriguing.
Mir is going to be looking for an arm or a leg to latch onto.
Velasquez is going to be looking for a head to knock off.
Who will find their trophy first?
Velasquez will use his punching power to floor Mir and he will finish him with punches while avoiding putting himself in a vulnerable position.
Avoiding the vulnerable position will ultimately be the key to this fight.
Mir has shown a knack for garnering submissions even after he's been battered and rocked.
I believe that Velasquez will not fall victim to Mir's masterful BJJ.
UFC on FX 4 on June 22nd will be headlined by Clay Guida and Gray Maynard.
I'm sure that Maynard is excited to be fighting someone other than Frankie Edgar.
I'm sure Guida is a little disappointed that he dropped his last fight, a decision, to the now-lightweight champion, Benson Henderson. Had Guida won that fight again Henderson, he would've had a shot at Edgar in a title bout.
Instead, he finds himself squaring off with the "Bully."
It's been well publicized that Nick Diaz who has endless cardio, competes in triathalons for fun.
Based off of everything I've ever seen with Guida, he may compete in triathalons as a warm-up. One of the great in-cage entertainers, Guida brings a lot of fight experience with him every time he fights.
Maynard, on the other hand, has not finished a fight since September 2007. He possesses a very workman-like approach. He is going to take you down and apply as much ground-and-pound as possible until you're able to work your way back to your feet. Once both fighters are back on two feet, he's going to take you back and ground-and-pound until you work your way back to your feet.
Think of it like this: lather, rinse and repeat as needed.
Maynard is going to wear you down and tire you out by continuously putting you on your back.
The only problem here is, Guida is very unlikely to get worn out.
It will be a battle of wills.
Can Guida steal a page from Edgar and coerce Maynard into a brawl? Will Maynard take Guida down and break his will?
I believe that Guida, with his strong wrestling pedigree, poses an interesting threat to Maynard. But when all is said and done, I think that it will be Maynard's arm raised at the center of the Octagon.
On July 7th at UFC 148 one of MMA's great trilogies will come to a close.
Yes, on this date, Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz, who will have spent several months competing as coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 15, will for the third time square off with one another.
Faber is an electrifying fighter with terrific athleticism. Of Faber's 26 MMA wins, 21 have come by stoppage including.
Cruz can count himself among the 21 after having lost their first fight by first-round guillotine choke. That fight stands as Cruz' only professional blemish.
That first fight was five years ago. More recently, at UFC 132 last July, Cruz scored a decision victory over the California Kid.
With a win, Cruz will cement his legacy as one of the greatest fighters in the history of the weight class.
On July 7th, that is exactly what I expect Cruz to do after grinding out a five-round decision victory.
On June 23rd in Rio de Janeiro, the rematch will take place.
In front of 80,000-plus rabid Brazilian fans, Chael Sonnen will enter the cage to fight Brazil's favorite fighting son, Anderson Silva.
This highly anticipated rematch is the fight of 2012.
Silva has been a weapon of mass destruction in the world of MMA. The owner of a 31-4 record in MMA, Silva has never lost a fight in the UFC. In fact, his last loss was more than six years ago, when he was disqualified following an illegal kick in a bout with Yushin Okami.
Prior to that fight, Silva's last defeat was at the hands of Ryo Chonan on New Year's Eve 2004, when he fell victim to a flying-scissor heel hook.
That's not to say he hasn't come close to losing in the UFC. Chael Sonnen, an American fighter whose strength lies in his wrestling ability came within two minutes of snapping Silva's winning streak.
In their first fight nearly two years ago, Sonnen dominated Silva for almost the entire five-round fight. Had Sonnen not gotten caught in that triangle armbar that ended their fight at the 3:10 mark of Round 5 and survived to hear the final bell, he surely would've exited the cage as the winner, taking with him Silva's middleweight championship belt.
Since then, Sonnen, who is never at a loss for words has been very public about his disdain for Silva and to some degree Brazil.
To say that at least part of the draw that this fight has lies with Sonnen's gift of gab would be an understatement. He has done a wonderful job of poking at and prodding the champion Silva; drawing attention to himself and his desire for the rematch.
However, unfortunately for Sonnen, he just isn't skilled enough to beat Silva. This was never more present than in their last fight where despite complete and utter domination, Silva was still able to lock on the submission.
The submission has been the bane of Sonnen's existence in MMA and I fully expect that the champion, will earn another submission victory in this fight.