Power Ranking the Best MMA Fights That Will Take Place in April

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIApril 4, 2013

Power Ranking the Best MMA Fights That Will Take Place in April

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    In the month of April, the UFC is slamming fans with a weekly helping of fight cards that has the potential to overwhelm even some of the most die-hard MMA fans.

    Over the course of four weeks, Zuffa is offering two title fights, an official title eliminator, a potential title eliminator and several other contests that have major impact on the championship picture across multiple weight classes.

    As a way to ensure that important bouts don't slip through the cracks, here is a look at at the 10 biggest fights taking place in April, power ranked by importance.

10. Gegard Mousasi vs. Ilir Latifi

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    When: Saturday, April 6 - UFC on FUEL 9

    Originally scheduled as a hotly anticipated clash between Gegard Mousasi and Alexander Gustafsson, this matchup would have ranked in the top five in its original form.

    However, after a cut opened up above the left eye of Gustafsson, the Swede was forced from the card, and unheralded teammate Ilir Latifi was tapped as a suitable replacement by the Zuffa brass.

    Latifi honestly has no business headlining an event, regardless of the short-notice nature of his booking. That being said, this fight is worthy of a place in this list due to the ranking of Gegard Mousasi, who is a sleeper candidate to challenge for UFC gold at some point in the next 12 months.

9. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Travis Browne

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    When: Saturday, April 13 - The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale

    While the focus of the TUF finale will be on crowning of a middleweight tournament champion, it's the heavyweights who open up the show in style. 

    Gabriel Gonzaga has looked fantastic since returning to the UFC in 2012. After two stoppage victories under his belt, the Brazilian looks to take on the always-imposing Travis Browne.

    Browne is coming off a loss against Bigfoot Silva; however, an asterisk sits next to the loss due to the freak torn hamstring he suffered during the first round.

    Both guys have incredible knockout power and a desire to impress in a major fight. Expect a violent finish.

8. Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson

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    When: Saturday, April 20 - UFC on FOX 7

    In search of an exciting affair between two lightweights who are fighting for pride? Look no further than Nate Diaz and Josh Thomson on UFC on FOX 7.

    Thomson has thrice squared off against Diaz's teammate Gilbert Melendez, so the competitive fire between these men isn't something new.

    Diaz has long been considered one of the most exciting fighters in his division, as the Stockton native has 10 Fight Night bonuses to his credit, include five Fight of the Night and five Submission of the Night awards.

7. Ultimate Fighter Finale

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    When: Saturday, April 13 - The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale

    Am I being too forward by assuming that Uriah Hall will make his way to the finale of The Ultimate Fighter? Perhaps. However, I needed to show someone's photo on this slide, and he seems like the safest bet of the four semi-finalists.

    Since reformatting the program and bringing in world champion Jon Jones as a coach, the reality series has enjoyed a fantastic surge in popularity. For that reason, the winner of this season's middleweight tournament will be in an enviable position at a very opportune time.

    Uriah Hall vs. Josh Samman, right? I sure hope so.

6. Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

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    When: Saturday, April 13 - The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale

    Not only will the The Ultimate Fighter Finale bring a close to Season 17 of the popular reality program, but it will also kick off Season 18. In the evening's co-main event, bantamweights Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano square off to determine who will get a coaching spot next season. 

    Were that not enough, the victor will be coaching against women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and get a title shot later this year.

5. Urijah Faber vs. Scott Jorgensen

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    When: Saturday, April 13 - The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale

    Considering that it is a free event, the TUF 17 Finale is quite the stacked card. With a highly anticipated tournament final as well as a title eliminator, a main event between Urijah Faber and former title contender Scott Jorgensen is a welcome bonus.

    As one of the few bantamweight contenders who Faber has yet to meet, Jorgensen represents an interesting challenge who can stay competitive on the feet and will lead to some exciting exchanges.

4. Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher

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    When: Saturday, April 27 - UFC 159

    Due to the massive popularity of Michael Bisping, any time that he steps into the cage, fans take notice. In the co-main event of UFC 159, "The Count" takes on Alan Belcher in a middleweight grudge match.

    At one point, there was a tattoo bet between these fighters. If Bisping knocked out Belcher in the first round, the latter would be forced to get a Union Jack tattoo on his chest. Should Belcher accomplish the same feat, Bisping would have to duplicate the hideous Johnny Cash tattoo that Belcher has on his arm.

    It looks like the tattoo bet is off the table, however, this matchup is very relevant to the middleweight title division.

3. Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir

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    When: Saturday, April 20 - UFC on FOX 7

    The stars of Strikeforce have been doing a great job of making waves since transitioning into the UFC in 2013. At UFC on FOX 7, fans will find out exactly how good the boys from San Jose truly are as both the main event and co-main event feature top draws from the promotion.

    Since winning the Heavyweight Grand Prix, undefeated Olympian Daniel Cormier has been thrust into the title picture at both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions.

    With Cormier taking on former UFC champion Frank Mir, we will be able to see where the wrestler's skills are when facing one of the most dangerous submission fighters on the planet. 

    After teammate Cain Velasquez recaptured the heavyweight championship in December, Cormier wasted little time in calling out light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the event that he gets past Mir on this card.

    It's possible that this fight will determine the next contender for Jon Jones, especially if Lyoto Machida opts not to wait for a title shot, as has been reported.

2. Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez

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    When: Saturday, April 20 - UFC on FOX 7

    For years, fans have been talking about Gilbert Melendez as potentially being the best lightweight on the planet. After all, the longtime Strikeforce champion is currently amid a seven-fight winning streak and has avenged both of his career losses.

    However, the era of Melendez seemed to fade away with the emergence of former WEC champion Benson Henderson, who has looked nothing short of spectacular since joining the UFC. Henderson captured the UFC lightweight championship from Frankie Edgar and has since defended his belt twice. 

    After April 20, there can be no dispute as to who is the greatest lightweight on the planet, as Henderson and Melendez are the only fighters who have any claim to the accolade.

1. Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

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    When: Saturday, April 27 - UFC 159

    Say what you want about whether Chael Sonnen deserves a light heavyweight title fight, but fans around the world are eager to see his scheduled matchup against Jon Jones.

    For the last three months, Jones and Sonnen have served as coaches on Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, and when the show concludes, they will put down their clipboards and lace up their gloves for an epic battle.

    With this fight, Jones has the ability to tie the record for most title defenses in the light heavyweight division; a record that has been held by Tito Ortiz since 2002.

    Will Sonnen regret talking his way into this fight? Will Jon Jones make history in April 2013? Or will detractors of "The American Gangster" be forced to eat their words?