I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming title fights. Like, a lot.
While you shouldn't care what I think, I'm going to tell you anyway. How do you like them apples?
Enough about fruit. Let's get to the fights.
Just to make sure we are all on the same page, let's digest the list. And then dive into each fight, ranked slide by slide.
|Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga||Flyweight||UFC on FOX 8|
|Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung||Featherweight||UFC 163|
|Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis||Lightweight||UFC 164|
|Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson||Light Heavyweight||UFC 165|
|Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland||Bantamweight||UFC 165|
|Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos||Heavyweight||UFC 166|
|Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks||Welterweight||UFC 167|
|Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate||Women's Bantamweight||UFC 168|
|Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva||Middleweight||UFC 168|
Renan Barao will fight Eddie Wineland at UFC 165.
They say it's an honor just to be nominated. Not so much.
But hey, someone had to fill this spot, and why not the title fight that is an interim one?
The champ at bantamweight, Dominick Cruz, has been on the sidelines for so long that the the last time he fought was before the debut of UFC on Fox (see list of UFC events).
So why did this fight come in dead last...other than the fact that it's not a true title fight?
Look, I am as stoked as the next guy to see Barao in action. He is a hell of a fighter and has a good chance of dethroning Cruz when and if they lock horns.
I just don't give Wineland much of a chance, other than a puncher's one. While he packs some serious power in his paws—just ask Will Campuzano—when he's fought his toughest competition, he's come up short both times: against Joseph Benavidez and Urijah Faber.
If Barao doesn't submit Wineland, he will at least cruise to a decision win. And hopefully, he will finally face off against Cruz for a title unification bout sometime in 2014.
Demetrious Johnson will fight John Moraga at UFC on Fox 8.
From bantamweight to flyweight...you might think I am picking on the little guys. Can I plead the fifth?
How about this: "Mighty Mouse" has only defended his belt once. He needs to defend his belt a few more times before I can get excited about him as a champ.
And, maybe, like challenger Jon Moraga said, he could look to go for the finish here and there instead of getting on his treadmill and looking to outdistance his opponent.
Speaking of Moraga, he is someone worth watching. He has finished off his first two opponents since sighing with the UFC, one by knockout and the other by submission. And he will most likely have to finish off a third straight opponent if he wants to take the belt from Johnson. He is not going to out treadmill him.
Ronda Rousey will rematch Miesha Tate at UFC 168.
Well this is starting to look damning for me. Not only do I seem shortsighted with fighters smaller than my sister, but now I am sexist.
All joking aside, what's not to like about Ronda Rousey? She is easy on the eyes, has a coarse but charismatic personality and is one bad-ass lady. She also has a great backstory worth reading about.
She will look to defend her UFC women's bantamweight belt for a second time when she takes on Miesha Tate for a second time. The first fight was fun, with Rousey leaving Tate writhing in pain when she refused to tap when she should have.
While the buildup to the rematch should be titillating—they will coach opposite each other in the 18th installment of The Ultimate Fighter—it's hard to see the result being much different than the first fight.
Tate may put up a better fight. Maybe. But if I were a betting man, I'd wager that Rousey will get a hold of Tate's arm at some point. The drama will be whether Tate taps sooner rather than later this time around.
After that, look for the kettle to start steaming for Rousey vs. Cyborg. But don't get your hopes up.
Jose Aldo will fight Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163.
Jose Also finished seven of his eight fights under the WEC banner. He was a wrecking machine amongst machines that wreck.
Then he got to the UFC, where he has only finished one out of four fights. I bet Chad Mendes wished it was zero out of four. Ouch. I still have the taste of Aldo's patella on my palette.
He was supposed to be taking on Anthony Pettis at UFC 163 in what had been one of the most anticipated fights of the summer. But Pettis pulled out with a knee injury, and in stomped "The Korean Zombie."
After suffering back-to-back losses in the WEC, Mr. Zombie has won this first three fights in the UFC in emphatic fashion. People like finishes, and he has been giving his fans what they want.
Eleven of Zombie's wins have come via finish. He has also only been been finished once, back in 2005. Something has got to give, way and it wont be Aldo's 15-fight win streak.
Georges St-Pierre will fight Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.
We all know the the curious case of of Georges St-Pierre by now. He went from being one of the most exciting fighters to compete inside the Octagon to being labeled "safe" and "boring."
Matt Serra turned the career of GSP on its head, and it's never been the same. Serra carried the smallest puncher's chance into their first fight and made St-Pierre tap to strikes. In the rematch, the French Canadian made the ref stop the fight due to nearly beating a plate of spaghetti out of Serra's side.
At UFC 167, the long-reigning champ will face a foe whom many think has a big puncher's chance.
Johny Hendricks has the power, the wrestling and the beard. As much as some want to believe he has a shot at upending St-Pierre, he doesn't. I will go out on a limb and pick GSP by decision.
But for five rounds, it will be fun seeing Hendricks swing away at the ghost of Serra's past. Bah humbug!
Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos will fight for a third time at UFC 166.
Nothing beats a good trilogy. The Original Star Wars. Back to the Future. The Godfather. Need I say more?
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos is setting up to be the best MMA trilogy since Tim Sylvia vs. Andrei Arlovski. Kidding.
So how will it all go down in the third installment?
It has to be one or the other: dos Santos by TKO or Velasquez by decision. JDS isn't getting finished, and Velasquez isn't getting outpointed or submitted.
Beyond the results of this fight, the most interesting question might be how many times these two will face off before they retire. They are clearly head and shoulders above the the rest of the division.
Jon Jones will fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165.
Jon Jones is a force of nature, a category five hurricane.
Gustafsson is a fine fighter, but it's hard to visualize how he survives the storm. He might be just as good on his feet as Jones, and if so "Bones" will put him on his back.
Gustafsson has won six fights in a row, but the last time he lost it was to Phil Davis, who put the Swede on his back and submitted him. Look for Jones to do the same. Or, look for him to try and prove he can outstrike "The Mauler." Every time Jones steps into the cage, he looks to paint something different upon his canvas.
That alone is worth tuning in for.
Benson Henderson will fight Anthony Pettis at UFC 164.
For a lightweight title fight to be more anticipated than a heavyweight and light heavyweight version should say something about the potential for this rematch. Their first fight, unless you voted for Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, was the fight of the year in 2010.
The bout was even after four rounds, so someone had to make an impression on the judges in the fifth and final one. Pettis put that impression across Henderson's face with the most jaw-dropping move ever seen inside the cage. That kick off the cage stunned "Bendo," sealed the round and fight and was eighth on ESPN's top-100 moves of 2010.
Henderson has gotten better since their first fight, but Pettis may have gotten better than that. So can the sequel live up to the hype? If it does, then hot damn! We may be looking at another fight of the year candidate. I can't hardly wait until these two crash into each other at UFC 164.
Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva will rematch at UFC 168.
The other fights didn't stand a chance.
There is so much to like about this rematch. Silva opened as the betting odds favorite. Even though many were picking Weidman to win the first fight, he is still not the favorite after squishing "The Spider" splat.
It is unlikely that Weidman will win by TKO again, right?
More likely, he will use his wrestling much like Chael Sonnen did against Silva. Some may pick him to win by submission. He seemed to have the former champ in precarious position in the first round. No matter the outcome, Weidman will be confident.
And what will Silva bring to the cage this time around?
Will he dance and prance around? You'd think not. Silva said his shenanigans are part of the show and won't go away. Will he come out like a bat out hell and look to finish things early and emphatically?
If he cannot handle Weidman's wrestling out of the gate, then can he remain patient and find his opening in the later rounds? Can Weidman be knocked out? Can he be submitted?
So many questions will be answered three days after Christmas. Not a shabby gift from the UFC.
So there you have it.
My most anticipated title fights from least to most. In truth I am looking forward to every fight on the list because, well, why wouldn't I be? A fight is a fight, and one with a title on the line is all the better.
Let's recap my ordering and then leave it to you to tell me where I got it wrong in the comments below.
9. Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland
8. Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga
7. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
6. Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung
5. Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
4. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos
3. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
2. Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
1. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva