UFC 166: 5 Under-the-Radar Fights
On a pay-per-view card situated around a championship trilogy, a heavyweight grudge match and a bloody lightweight war, some marquee matchups are simply being overlooked.
From the first fight to the last, UFC 166 has all the key ingredients to be one of the best events of the year, especially when you consider the number of bouts currently flying under the radar.
Whether it's a women's battle for divisional title contention or two lightweights fighting to stay on the UFC roster, Saturday is going to pack a devastating punch.
Here are five underrated and undervalued fights set to occupy the Octagon this weekend.
George Sotiropoulos vs. KJ Noons
A must-win situation for both George Sotiropoulos and KJ Noons this Saturday has all the fixings for a Fight of the Night showdown.
People tend to forget how efficient both fighters have been throughout their careers.
Noons, a former Strikeforce top contender, is one of the more technically sound strikers in the sport.
Sotiropoulos, who started his UFC career with a 7-0 record, is a grappling guru who always pushes his opponent to the absolute brink.
But after combining for six-straight defeats, both lightweight veterans have something to prove. Who will regain divisional momentum, and who will tempt the promotion to cut ties?
Sarah Kaufman vs. Jessica Eye
Casual fans and diehard enthusiasts are finally starting to get the hint: Women can fight.
Sure there hasn't been too many battles inside the Octagon yet, but once top contenders Sarah Kaufman and Jessica Eye do battle this weekend, the division is going to be held at even a higher regard.
Kaufman has seen champion Ronda Rousey once before and would love the opportunity to avenge her loss. Eye, on the other hand, has won seven in a row and believes she is the future of an eager weight class.
In any case, the winner could be launched into an immediate No. 1 contender's bout with either Cat Zingano, Sara McMann or Liz Carmouche, so pay close attention.
Tim Boetsch vs. C.B. Dollaway
It's going to be interesting to see if filling in for an injured Luke Rockhold is going to work out for the always game C.B. Dollaway.
The fact of the matter is that Dollaway hasn't faced a middleweight powerhouse like Tim Boetsch since he got knocked silly by Mark Munoz back in 2011.
Now while Boetsch's stand-up isn't as potent as the Filipino's, Dollaway still has to be careful and understand that playing all angles is going to help his cause.
A win for The Ultimate Fighter standout puts him at three straight, while a victory for "The Barbarian" gets him back on track to reek havoc atop an evolving division.
John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague
In a top-heavy division seeking relevant title contenders by the minute, John Dodson is as ready for a rematch as they come.
He was really the only flyweight to ever stun champion Demetrious Johnson more than once, so a lot of fans are calling for a second installment.
However, Dodson has to get past Darrell Montague first to even be considered as an immediate title threat.
Montague, who will be making his promotional debut this Saturday, is a very talented wrestler whose only loss since 2009 came against Ian McCall.
It's an intriguing matchup to say the least, and one that's going to spark Saturday's main card.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan
On a card featuring two of the most popular and well-established names in heavyweight history, rising contenders Gabriel Gonzaga and Shawn Jordan are finding it difficult to mirror the hype of a championship trilogy.
Nonetheless, their bout at UFC 166 is going to tear the Octagon a new one.
As one of the most athletically gifted fighters to come into the weight class in recent memory, Jordan is as promising as they come. He's secured three TKO victories in four performances since making his promotional debut early last year.
But as powerful and athletic as Jordan is, Gonzaga is just as formidable when it comes to finishing opponents and feeding into top-level experience.
His momentum hit a road block when he was dropped early by Travis Browne back in April, but that doesn't diminish the fact that he's produced three finishes since making his return to the UFC last year.
Whoever wins this gigantic collision of speed, athleticism, grappling and natural animal instinct should supplant themselves just outside of the division's top 10.
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