22 Reasons Fans Need to Catch Every UFC Event in April
April is absolutely packed with MMA action. ONE FC, Bellator and Invicta are all chipping in to give fans their fix, but it is the UFC that will dominate the month.
The sport's biggest promotion has four events scheduled that will fall between April 6 and April 27, coming via pay-per-view, Fox, FX and Fuel TV.
But we aren't just talking quantity here. Each of the UFC's shows will feature action worth your while. Whether it's a title on the line, a pairing of two rising stars or a good old grudge match, April has plenty of reasons for you to keep up to speed.
Here we will take a look at what all four events have to offer, and examine why each is worth tuning in for, even if you are feeling a little bombarded with mixed martial arts.
Reasons 1-6: UFC on Fuel 9
Gegard Mousasi debuts in the UFC this weekend.
USA TODAY Sports
The Octagon returns to Sweden
Last April, the UFC visited Sweden for the first time in its existence, and the atmosphere was electric. This Saturday the promotion heads back to Stockholm, and the card it is bringing is without a doubt deeper than its predecessor, even if it carries a decidedly less home-country flavor.
There is always some excitement attached to anything novel, and though it isn't the UFC's first time in Scandinavia, this weekend's show still has the feel of something new and intriguing.
Gegard Mousasi finally debuts in the UFC
Mousasi's impending Octagon debut has received far less attention than it would have if it had come a few years back, but the enigmatic Armenian remains an interesting addition to the UFC's 205-pound weight division.
His first test will be a tough one, in the form of Alexander Gustafsson, and it will finally allow us to see how he handles himself on the big stage.
The Couture legacy lives on
"The Natural" may be done in the UFC, but his spawn has come to carry on the family legacy.
No-one is mistaking Ryan for his father Randy, and no-one expects the 30-year-old lightweight to post the kind of results the forerunning Couture did. But still, nostalgia will flow when the name "Couture" is once again bellowed out inside the Octagon.
Mike Easton vs. Brad Pickett
Easton thinks the pairing has Fight of the Year potential. Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice might disagree, but "The Hulk" is right in his assessment that his UFC on Fuel 9 bout has the potential to put fans on the edge of their seats and keep them there.
Both he and Pickett are known as aggressive combatants, and if each feels comfortable hanging out in the pocket, this could be a truly exhilarating contest.
Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza
Speaking of potentially amazing fights, Brandao vs. Garza is right up there with Easton vs. Pickett. Maybe even higher.
Brandao has looked to implement a more methodical game plan of late, but remains an explosive guy, and Garza's unpredictable style and aggression may be just the thing to draw the animal back out of the Brazilian.
Conor McGregor tries to conquer the hype-killer that is Marcus Brimage
Coming off an uninspired showing on The Ultimate Fighter, Marcus Brimage looked destined to have a very short UFC career. The company handed Brimage to Maximo Blanco for Blanco's promotional debut, and to everyone's surprise, Brimage spoiled it.
The UFC brass probably figured lightning couldn't strike twice, so Brimage was then paired up with the promising Jimy Hettes, whom Brimage promptly dismissed.
At UFC on Fuel 9, it will be another highly regarded fighter looking to climb the UFC ranks for Brimage.
Can "The Bama Beast" do it again?
Reasons 7-10: TUF 17 Finale
Miesha "just coast" Tate will have her first UFC match this month.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
WMMA is back in the Octagon
It may lack the flare and novelty of UFC 157's Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche, but TUF 17's Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano remains an important match for the future of women's MMA.
For starters, the winner will get an Ultimate Fighter coaching spot opposite Rousey and then challenge for her title. If the ladies can put on a good show on April 13, it will go a long way to selling the whole premise of a female Ultimate Fighter, as well as the core concept of WMMA in the UFC.
The Ultimate Fighter concludes
As the name implies, this season of The Ultimate Fighter draws to a close at the TUF 17 finale. So if you've been following along with your good friends, Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, you'll want to catch the show for closure.
Speaking of Sonnen, chances are pretty good he'll have some interesting things to say during the broadcast about his team, his experience coaching and his upcoming fight with Jones.
Undoubtedly, some of what he says will induce eye-rolling and head-scratching. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say there will be no shortage of smiles cracked when he gets going.
It's an all-around good card
Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen and Travis Brown vs. Gabriel Gonzaga promise to be entertaining fights, as do a number of the undercard matches that might lack for star-power but not for excitement.
As it often happens, an event lacking expectations could very well end up being one of the year's most memorable.
Reasons 10-16: UFC on Fox 7
Ben Henderson puts his title on the line at UFC on Fox 7
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The UFC lightweight title is on the line
The main event of UFC on Fox 7 will be contested for the lightweight title. It will feature champion Ben Henderson and Gilbert Melendez, the final champion of the now defunct Strikeforce promotion.
It's a main event worthy of a pay-per-view card, and that it will be delivered for free gives you every reason to not miss the event.
A multitude of Strikeforce debuts
The mass migration of Strikeforce fighters to the UFC will be well represented at UFC on Fox 7. In fact, seven fighters who last competed in Strikeforce will grace the card, a demographic headlined by Melendez, Daniel Cormier, Josh Thomson and Lorenz Larkin.
UFC vs. Strikeforce main card
The card will not only feature a bevy of Strikeforce fighters; most will be pitted against veteran UFC counterparts, giving the card a decidedly UFC vs. Strikeforce feel.
Three of the night's four main card bouts will have a Strikeforce fighter take on a UFC fighter, the only exception being Jordan Mein vs. Matt Brown, and Mein is only one fight removed from his Strikeforce days.
Darren Elkins takes a step up in competition against Chad Mendes
Elkins has quietly amassed a five-fight win streak, and fans are starting to notice. The only issue most take with his accomplishment is that his hit-list lacks anyone of particularly high esteem.
That could all change on April 20, as Elkins will be given his stiffest test inside the Octagon to date, when he takes on featherweight contender Chad Mendes.
The bout should answer a lot of questions regarding where exactly Elkins stands in the division, as well as whether or not Mendes is poised for another charge at the title.
T.J. Dillashaw continues his rise up the bantamweight ladder
Since losing to John Dodson in his UFC debut—at The Ultimate Fighter 14 finale—Dillashaw has been superb. He's rolled off three consecutive wins and has looked about as impressive as possible doing it.
He'll fight Hugo Viana at UFC on Fox 7 and will have the opportunity to really make a statement with another great performance.
Myles Jury vs. Ramsey Nijem
Jury vs. Nijem isn't a contender bout, but it offers a glimpse into the future of the lightweight division.
Both guys have very bright days ahead of them competing in the Octagon and are two of the very best under-25 competitors the UFC has to offer.
Their UFC on Fox 7 bout will function as an outstanding opportunity for either competitor to take that next step forward in his career.
Reasons 16-22: UFC 159
April will be a month full of Sonnen talking, and Sonnen fighting
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
UFC light heavyweight title fight
What more could you ask for than a UFC title fight? How about one featuring one of the best pound-for-pound fighters alive?
How about one featuring a fighter fans love to hate, and one some fans love to hate and others love to love?
How about one between Ultimate Fighter coaches? And one that is likely to see a massive influx in pre-fight hype after the The Ultimate Fighter finale goes down and attentions are turned on the coaches themselves?
How about...you get the point.
Chael Sonnen again
Once the focus comes off the fighters competing on The Ultimate Fighter, Sonnen will shift his focus to opponent Jon Jones, and will undoubtedly have some interesting things to say.
The lead-up to fight night should be fun to monitor, as Jon Jones' public relation skills have already provided Sonnen with plenty of fodder that I'm sure he's just waiting to unleash.
Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher
Both guys are coming off losses, but this remains a fight between two top middleweights. It also features two technically sound strikers, who have the potential to put on a beautiful stand-up battle.
The fight also has title implications, even if they are not immediate.
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes grudge match
It's an intriguing stylistic matchup between a world-class jiu-jitsu practitioner and a dominant wrestler, but that's not even the best part. That honor goes to the childish, yet still kind of funny grudge developing between the opponents.
I'm sure there will be more to come, too.
Sara McMann makes her UFC debut
McMann lacks the notoriety of Ronda Rosuey, or even Miesha Tate, but she's right there in terms of credentials.
With a flawless 6-0 record, McMann has quietly established herself as a top WMMA threat. And what about background, you ask? Well, McMann sees Rousey's Olympic bronze (judo), and raises her a silver (wrestling).
UFC 159 will be McMann's formal introduction to mainstream MMA, and an impressive showing would go a long way for convincing fans that there is enough depth among the fighting ladies to keep their division alive.
Erik Perez vs. Johnny Bedford
Perez is just 23, but none of his three UFC opponents have survived a round with him. The Mexican is one of the sport's best up-and-coming fighters, as well as one of its more exciting ones.
Since coming off a failed foray into The Ultimate Fighter, Bedford has gone 2-0 inside the Octagon, and has just been nasty about the whole thing. His nickname is "Brutal," and that only begins to describe what he has done to his foes thus far.
This undercard match has a very real chance to steal the show. It's not a fight you want to miss.