MMA Contenders and Pretenders That Will Be Revealed in August
August is a stacked month for the UFC.
Things kick off on Saturday night with UFC 163. The main event features Jose Aldo defending his featherweight title against Chan Sung Jung, "The Korean Zombie."
However, that is only the beginning, with three more events in the month.
The highlight is the first event on Fox Sports 1. Chael Sonnen and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will square off in a light heavyweight tilt in Boston boasting an undercard stacked with competitive and compelling fights.
UFC Fight Night 27 and UFC 164 close out the month. The title pictures will be rearranged: Some fighters will emerge as new contenders, while others will fall out of the discussion as they show themselves to be mere pretenders.
These are those men and women for the month of August.
McCall will battle with Iliarde Santos at UFC 163. McCall was a judge's mistaken score from earning a fourth round against Demetrious Johnson in the inaugural UFC flyweight tournament. He lost the rematch in a close decision and was bested by Joseph Benavidez most recently.
Those are the two top flyweights in the division—and McCall is right alongside them.
His performance at UFC 163 could erase the losses from the fans' minds and re-establish him as one of the premier flyweights in the world.
Lineker will also be on the UFC 163 card.
Prior to the weigh-ins, I was all set to move Lineker up into the ranks of the contenders, but he missed weight for the second time in his UFC career, the mark of a pretender.
Win or lose, it is hard to see him as a future star.
The Olympic silver medalist will take on former title challenger Sarah Kaufman at UFC Fight Night 27.
With Cat Zingano still sidelined, this fight will move the winner into top contender status. McMann and Ronda Rousey have seemingly been on a collision course since entering the sport. If she is able to defeat veteran Kaufman—and I think she will—look out for an Olympian vs. Olympian title fight in 2014.
Expect Nunes to win at UFC 163 over Sheila Gaff, but don't place too much importance on the result.
Nunes is a viable Top 10 women's bantamweight, but she is not a title challenger. This will be her introduction to the majority of the MMA audience, and it comes at the hands of a natural flyweight. She has fought the likes of Alexis Davis and Sarah D'Alelio before and failed.
Do not go overboard if she gets an impressive stoppage over Gaff.
McDonald will be a part of the stacked UFC on Fox Sports 1 card. It will be his first fight since dropping his title bid to Renan Barao.
The lessons he learned in that fight will make him a better, more dangerous, fighter. Brad Pickett is a tough opponent, but look for McDonald to wow the Boston crowd with big power.
I am going out on a limb, but I expect Alcantara to stun Urijah Faber at UFC on Fox Sports 1.
His all-around game is a poor matchup for Faber, and if he can knock out the longtime contender, he will rocket up the rankings. It is more of a gut feeling, but I think Alcantara will pick up the win and thrust himself into the title picture.
Pickett is currently ranked No. 5 in the division, but after McDonald finishes him, his ranking will drop.
Pickett is an exciting and fun bantamweight, but he's not a title contender. He will be an excellent gatekeeper for the division's elite.
Yahya has won two fights in a row, and he'll pick up his third at UFC 163. He has looked fantastic of late, and with another impressive performance, he'll assert himself as a dangerous piece in the featherweight puzzle.
Diego Brandao and Conor McGregor
Both of these featherweights will fight on the inaugural UFC on Fox Sports 1 card in Boston. I lump them together because their stock will remain static following the event.
Expect both men to win impressively; unfortunately, they will do so due to fighting lesser competition. Both will look for a bigger opponent after the August card.
Hioki has looked good since coming to the UFC but has had his share of tough opponents and questionable scorecards. He'll have his hands full with Darren Elkins in Indianapolis.
If he can defeat Elkins, he should leap back into the Top 10.
"The Korean Zombie"
Once Jose Aldo exerts his dominance over Chan Sung Jung, it will be clear "The Korean Zombie" is not a legit contender to the throne. He is an exciting featherweight; he's just not able to compete against Aldo.
Like Jung, Guida will take on an elite featherweight in his next fight—Chad Mendes.
Mendes will dominate Guida and highlight the latter's rightful place as a gatekeeper.
Lauzon has a good following and is marketable, but he is not a contender.
Despite winning multiple bonuses, he will not move into title contention with a win over Michael Johnson. Furthermore, Johnson will make this a difficult fight for Lauzon.
Matt Brown and Mike Pyle
Brown and Pyle will meet in Boston in an exciting welterweight battle, and it could be a sleeper for Fight of the Night.
However, as each man tries to make a case for the Top 10, all they will show is that they are middle-of-the-pack welterweights. The top of the division is stacked with horrendous matchups for both men.
Kampmann was the guy who welcomed Carlos Condit to the UFC in a spectacular battle that saw Kampmann walk away with a narrow win. But 2009 was a long time ago.
Kampmann, ranked No. 7, has improved since that time, but Condit has improved more. Much more.
In this rematch, Condit will showcase his wide array of skills in proving he is one of the top five in the world. Losing two fights in a row will set Kampmann back quite a way.
Davis has taken on two Top 10 light heavyweights. He had the advantage stylistically over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and took that win, but his meeting against Rashad Evans was a one-sided affair in the latter's favour.
The Lyoto Machida fight will be the same result and hamstring Davis to the back half of the Top 10 for a long time.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Shogun was on the cusp of a title shot when he defeated Brandon Vera, but he dropped his next bout to future title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.
Chael Sonnen, who meets Rua next, is a natural middleweight. Shogun should have the tools to win this fight, but Sonnen's gameness will make the aging fighter look nothing more than a pretender in doing so.
Browne is one of the most athletic heavyweights in the sport, but he is still a work in progress. His work at Jackson's MMA will show as he earns a stoppage win over Alistair Overeem.
A win over Overeem will finally move Browne into the title picture. It is a picture in desperate need of new faces.
Barnett returns after a long time away from the Octagon, and he'll be met by former champion Frank Mir.
This is an interesting matchup, with the winner right back in the thick of things in the division. Barnett will triumph, and his post-fight interview will earn him a big fight.
Regardless of his heated past with the UFC, as reported by Todd Martin of the Los Angeles Times, Barnett is able to market himself well. The past year has taught us that the organisation is taking such abilities more seriously now.
Should he suffer back-to-back knockout losses, as predicted above, his hopes of a title shot will be over. The Overeem hype ends in August.