Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida and 10 Fights the UFC Should Put on FOX
The object of creating dynamic UFC on FOX cards is to establish news fans through nationally broadcasting fights usually left for PPV events.
In the past, the UFC has done a very nice job in creating formidable matchups inside the Octagon that have satisfied both social and hardcore fans.
But due in part to the sport's obvious mainstream attention, especially on a network like FOX, some fights have not lived up to their potential and were overshadowed by expectation.
With that said, the UFC's seven-year deal with FOX surely has a lot of life left.
Taking into consideration the current title contenders, already scheduled bouts and the showdowns we'd really love to see, here are the top 10 fights the UFC should showcase on FOX.
Anthony Pettis vs. Edson Barboza
While Edson Barboza isn't on the same contending level as Anthony Pettis, this fight would be downright explosive.
Both guys have some of the best standup skills in the lightweight division, albeit Pettis has the superior superkick.
For Barboza, who's undefeated in his UFC career, a victory over Pettis would legitimize his current four-fight win streak.
And while Pettis would ultimately be taking a step back compared to fighting the winner of Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller for No. 1 contender rights, a fight with another young talent in Barboza would serve as a resume-builder heading into a potential title fight sometime next year.
This is easily one of the better matchups the UFC can put together as a co-main event for a future UFC on FOX card.
Jake Shields vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller
This fight would not only be emotionally charged considering the storied past between the two fighters, but the promotional and advertising aspect leading up to the FOX card could be at an all-time high.
Jake Shields has already beaten Jason Miller before when they met in Strikeforce back in 2009, so the territory would be familiar.
"Mayhem" Miller would easily take this fight without question. A rematch with Shields would not only give him the opportunity to prove his worth in the UFC while avenging a previous loss, but Miller could find some sort of retribution for the 2010 Strikeforce brawl.
With both guys recently dropping tough contender bouts, Shields to Jake Ellenberger in September and Miller to Michael Bisping in his comeback debut in December, this matchup makes a lot of sense for the UFC in order to gauge where each fighter falls in the middleweight title race (Shields is projected to move back to the division in August).
Even though it may not pack enough punch to be considered a main event, it would make for a great nationally broadcasted throwdown.
Rory MacDonald vs. John Hathaway
This fight needs to happen.
Rory MacDonald recently proved that he's the real deal when it comes to being the best young prospect in the game, but the UFC still seems reluctant to throw him to the wolves.
Smartly, letting MacDonald run through the middle tier of welterweight fighters may be the best scenario, instead of pushing him into a future title bout with mentor Georges St-Pierre.
With that said, a perfect opponent for MacDonald that would test his overall Octagon presence, without being considered a stepping stone or fill-in, would be John Hathaway.
Hathaway himself is considered one of the most promising talents in the division as a 24-year-old British standup specialist who only has one loss in the UFC.
This fight would be full of back-and-forth exchanges, turning it into exactly what FOX and the UFC wants to see. More importantly, what they want potentially new fans to see.
I'd be exciting, fast-paced and downright explosive—a barn burner only worth showcasing on the same network as Fast Animals, Slow Children.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le
Wanderlei Silva and Cung Le's first Octagon matchup was borderline historic.
It more or less put Silva back on the map as a one of the best KO specialists in MMA, while it showcased Le's ability to throw nasty spinning back kicks and contend with some of the best talent in the middleweight division.
A rematch between the two could easily headline a lesser UFC on FOX card.
Silva is currently scheduled to face Vitor Belfort at UFC 147 and Le is suppose to battle Rich Franklin at the highly anticipated UFC 148.
Time-wise, this couldn't be more perfect. Their next fights are literally within three weeks of each other.
I guess Silva would have to lose and Le would have to win in order for them to meet again, but that's very possible. Franklin is seemingly a shell of his former self and Belfort could very well KO Silva.
Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald
Now is the time for the UFC to throw Michael McDonald into the lion's den.
McDonald, 21, has showcased his ability to literally KO anyone in the bantamweight division over his last two bouts, securing TKO victories over Miguel Torres and Alex Soto.
As one of the younger prospects in the UFC, McDonald's appeal is through the roof. Not to mention his fight-ending ability.
After his victory over a top-10 fighter in the division in Torres, it's time that he faces a bigger and more fierce opponent: Renan Barao.
Barao is currently one of the most successful fighters in the UFC, sporting a 30-1-1 professional record with three-straight victories inside the Octagon. With key wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett—by way of submission, nonetheless—the Brazilian seems ready to challenge the division's best fighter for bantamweight title rights.
But before he does, Barao has to wait and see who wins between current champion Dominick Cruz and No. 1 contender Urijah Faber in their second rematch.
And with the departures of Joseph Benavidez, Brian Bowles and Demetrious Johnson to the newly-instated flyweight division, McDonald could be ready to step in as a top-five fighter in the division and test his heavy hands against a fellow standup specialist in Barao.
Ryan Bader vs. Phil Davis
Is there seriously anybody out there in the MMA world that wouldn't want to see this bout on FOX for free?
I didn't think so.
Ryan Bader vs. Phil Davis could easily carry an entire card on FOX, letting the UFC promote two of the best young fighters in the light heavyweight division.
While Davis is coming off a previous UFC on FOX loss to Rashad Evans three months ago, his overall resume speaks for itself. Davis would surely give Bader problems.
As two sound wrestlers, Bader could try to tempt Davis into keeping the fight standing. A game plan like that, assuming Davis takes the bait, would produce a FOX bout full of bombs and heavy blows.
I really don't see any other matchup for both of these fighters considering the traffic jam of contenders at the top of the division, albeit contenders who have all fallen victim to Jon Jones.
Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar
Do I dare say Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar III?
How crazy would this be?
Griffin is already scheduled to face Tito Ortiz for the third time at UFC 148 (this event is absolutely ridiculous with potential), but a future re-rematch with Bonnar isn't too far out of the question.
Griffin's career within the UFC has been called into question over the past few years considering his misfortunes inside the cage, so a final showdown with Bonnar on FOX could come to fruition if the UFC and Griffin decide that he doesn't have much left.
Easily a headliner, the promotional advantages for the UFC and FOX would be through the roof.
Maybe they could even coach The Ultimate Fighter and finish both of their UFC careers on FOX for the finale. It seems too perfect, but crazier things have happened in the world of MMA (Kimbo Slice).
Alistair Overeem vs. Cain Velasquez
Assuming Alistair Overeem comes back from his suspension—and he will, considering the UFC won't let one of the most popular fighters in the world slip through their hands—he's going to need a serious opponent for his welcome-back fight.
Cain Velasquez is the perfect man for the job.
Despite losing his heavyweight title to Junior dos Santos at the inaugural UFC on FOX, Velasquez knows what to expect when the world's greatest MMA promoter becomes a nationally broadcast celebration.
Also considering Overeem is a publicity hound, this would be a match made in heaven.
If Velasquez takes care of Antonio Silva at UFC 146, a fight with Overeem could be possible at the end of the year, which is exactly when Overeem is due back.
New Year's weekend anybody?
Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans
Out of all the potential fights on this list, a rematch between Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida seems like the most likely UFC on FOX headliner.
Both guys have recently fallen victim to the untouchable Jon Jones, forcing them to refocus their training and preparation for future contender bouts in order to get back to title contention.
Even though both fighters looked suspect against Jones, Evans and Machida are still two of the best light heavyweight fighters in the world.
As Jones is scheduled to hash things out with Dan Henderson later in the year, alongside Alexander Gustafsson's impressive run within the division, Evans and Machida could end up settling things inside the cage for a second time in order to discover the No. 1 contender for 2013.
You also have to take into account that Evans would probably be willing to do anything to revenge his KO loss to Machida at UFC 98. Sparks will certainly fly.
Another Title Fight
Whether it's watching two young prospects duke it out, seeing a rematch between two top contenders or witnessing another installment of the greatest fight of all time, there seems to be plenty of options for the UFC to choose from in order to fill future FOX cards.
But the most important aspect that they need to take into consideration is that many people tuned into UFC on FOX 1 because it was for the heavyweight championship.
There hasn't been a championship bout on FOX since. For that, the bi-monthly national broadcast event has lacked some gusto.
If you aren't a hardcore UFC fan, are you really going to go out of your way to watch Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller instead of huddling around a TV and watching a Floyd Mayweather championship bout?
I doubt it. The UFC needs to get back on track, throw these fights together and somehow manage to skip a costly PPV card and give the fans what they want: a FOX bout for UFC gold.
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