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7 Fights You Can't Miss This December

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2016

7 Fights You Can't Miss This December

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    'Tis the season—for bloody fists and bludgeoned faces.

    While violence is no sane substitute for swashing eggnog and unwrapping gifts, it's great news for fight fans everywhere.

    Barring unforeseen injuries, which have become the norm of late, December has the perfect amount of Octagon brutality on deck and in the hole—whether you've been naughty or nice.

    Championship grudge matches, No. 1 contender bouts, Fight of the Year candidates and heavyweight scintillators will surely fill the void left by any unfortunate stocking stuffer.

    Here are seven fights you absolutely cannot miss before the start of the new year.  

Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Compared to the other top-shelf fights on this list, Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao doesn't quite fit in.

    However, during a time when it's better to give than receive, I'm going to give these two fiery featherweights a chance to shine.

    Built more as a fantasy divisional matchup than title-implicated showdown, Poirier and Brandao have a chance to produce one of the best fights of the year.

    As two strong grapplers who like to test the waters on the feet, this is a matchup that could stumble into any in-cage environment.

    On their feet, in the clinch, on the mat or off their backs, these guys are going to get it done. 

Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    A bout between Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald is like a conference championship game between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck (sorry, non-NFL fans).

    It's a passing of the torch. A fight that will pin one of the craftiest veterans in division history against one of the most heralded young prospects of the past five years.

    While it's difficult to predict how this fight is going to end, it's easy to say that it will offer loads of excitement. Both guys are well-rounded on the ground, possess crisp striking and rarely get rocked. 

    Say what you will about Faber's most recent title flops and McDonald's inability to withstand Renan Barao for five rounds, this is one bantamweight contest you won't want to miss. 

Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Travis Browne is on one hell of a roll.

    With a historic finish over Alistair Overeem currently trailing him into the cage later this month opposite the resurgent Josh Barnett, "Hapa" has a chance to reach out and capture No. 1 contender rights.

    While a championship match between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum is already on the docket, the winner of this fight should be next in line.

    For Browne to withstand the constant pressure and unavoidable motor of Barnett, he'll have to keep his distance, use his size and make his strikes count.

    There's really nothing like a meaningful heavyweight brawl around the holidays.  Truly isn't. 

Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown

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    Sherdog.com

    Oh boy. This one is going to be good.

    For the past two years, Matt Brown has been absolutely ravaging every overwhelmed welterweight in his path. From Mike Pyle to Mike Swick, Jordan Mein to Chris Cope, "The Immortal" has looked unstoppable en route to six straight victories—five by knockout or TKO.

    That's just about as hot as a fighter can be without getting the opportunity to fight somebody ranked in the division's top 10.

    Well, on the heels of such prolonged success, Brown will get his chance to display boundless rage and unfathomable guts against one of the best. That man, who many consider one of the best fighters in the world without a belt, is former interim champ Carlos Condit.

    As a penetrating striker, courageous gamer and balls-to-the-wall fixture in the 170-pound weight class, Condit is going to force Brown to spill every ounce of effort inside the cage when the two lock horns next weekend on FOX.

    This has Fight of the Year written all over it—and it's free!

Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez II

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    As the shallowest weight class in the UFC, the flyweight crop heap is as thin as air.

    However, as top-heavy and one-sided as it truly is, the two men at the peak of the division are some of the very best mixed martial artists in the game today.

    Whether it's the speed of champion Demetrious Johnson or the sheer athleticism of Joseph Benavidez, these are two flyweight phenoms who never fail to produce relevant action inside the sometimes overbearing Octagon.

    They've seen each other once before back in 2012 with Johnson capturing a split-decision and first title victory on the back of superior wrestling, but that may not be the case this time around.

    Since that loss, Benavidez has racked off three straight wins, including two finishes. Considering the offensive pedigree and aggression that he's currently fighting with, "Mighty Mouse" may never get the chance to shoot. 

Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate II

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Promoted as one of the biggest rivalries in the sport today, Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate has a lot at stake.

    First off, it's a rematch.

    Their first meeting showcased Rousey's brutal submission abilities as she snapped Tate's arm to capture her first professional title.

    Secondly, their back-and-forth flexing on this season of The Ultimate Fighter has put a really ugly twist on an already hostile situation.

    Lastly, this will be Rousey's most important fight to date.

    She has yet to prove she's capable of fighting past the first round, which isn't necessarily always a bad thing, and she's ultimately defending her title as the pioneer for women's MMA.

    A loss to Tate would essentially send ripples throughout the division and spark confusion amongst the media, public and anyone who has grown accustomed to seeing "Rowdy" partnered with UFC gold.

    As an appetizer to Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II, this is arguably the most intriguing and exciting co-main event of 2013. 

Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Is Anderson Silva going to dance around the Octagon yet again when he meets Chris Weidman at UFC 168?

    Probably not.

    Will Weidman land another one-punch knockout on one of the greatest strikers of all time?

    It's unlikely.

    However, through all the questions leading up to arguably the biggest rematch in UFC history, you can count on one thing: Herb Dean is going to have to jump in sooner or later.

    With Silva out for blood and in search of a belt he once wore for nearly seven years, and Weidman looking to silence any naysayers hellbent on the word "fluke," this rematch is going to deliver double-fold.

    So, while your Aunts and Uncles are in town and you're fed up with sitting around the dinner table listening to "Deck the Halls," pay the newly instated $59.95 pay-per-view fee and witness history.

     

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