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10 Must-See UFC Fights in June

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2014

10 Must-See UFC Fights in June

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    As one of the most jam-packed months of fighting you'll ever see, June offers UFC fans from all corners of the world something to look forward to.

    Whether it's a titanic showdown between two budding heavyweights or a flyweight title fight featuring the fastest fighter in the game, the next four weeks will deliver on all levels.

    It's up to you to pay attention as the workdays plod along in order to maintain your weekend schedule.

    Here are 10 must-see UFC fights for the month of June. Enjoy.

10. Soa Palelei vs. Jared Rosholt

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    With hands made of stone, Australian Soa Palelei has been on a tear in the UFC heavyweight division.

    As a decorated finisher boasting 17 career knockouts in 21 fights, the 36-year-old veteran has finally found a home in a top-heavy division.

    Even at his age, Palelei is one of the more promising newcomers to the promotion—outside of his UFC Fight Night 43 opponent Jared Rosholt, of course.

    Blessed with natural brute force and one of the more established wrestling backgrounds you'll find in the division, the 27-year-old Rosholt is seeking a highlight-reel victory to launch his rather promising career.

    It's a classic power puncher vs. wrestler matchup and one that will produce the next rising contender in the heavyweight scene.

9. Frank Trevino vs. Joe Ellenberger

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    Frank Trevino is a respectable lightweight who can make some noise once he lets his well-rounded game take over.

    But his upcoming bout is not on this list because of his eight career finishes in just 12 fights.

    Instead, Trevino's fight at UFC Fight Night 44 is a must-see showdown because he's facing the infamous Joe Ellenberger. The 29-year-old is a bruiser with strong grappling skills, power in his hands, sound wrestling and a chin like his brother Jake.

    But outside of his professional accomplishments, his recovery from paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (a life-threatening disease that destroys red blood cells) has already made him a UFC fan favorite.

    When Ellenberger steps inside the Octagon opposite Trevino later this month, it will be a culmination of blood, sweat, tears and the will to survive.

8. Myles Jury vs. Abel Trujillo

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    Tim Larsen/Associated Press

    Coming off one of the biggest slugfests you'll ever see (one that saved UFC 169), lightweight powerhouse Abel Trujillo will be forced to outpoint a more tactical striker than Jamie Varner when he takes on undefeated Myles Jury on June 28.

    Jury just made quick work of divisional wild man Diego Sanchez back in March, showcasing his maturity, versatility, patience and Octagon potential in the process.

    As two of the division's most promising future contenders, Trujillo and Jury will leave no stone unturned as they aim to add to already impressive win streaks.

    Jury is going to keep his distance and pick his shots, but the tenacity and overwhelming pace of "Killa" should make this one of the better lightweight bouts of 2014.

7. Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub

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    USA TODAY Sports

    As much as this matchup is about the promotional return of former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, it's also about the maturation of Brendan Schaub.

    The current owner of a two-fight win streak, including a quick submission of a heavy-handed Matt Mitrione back in September, the 31-year-old has finally realized he can't stand and bang with more powerful opponents.

    Instead, "The Hybrid" has adopted new game plans centered on his innate wrestling skills and strong grappling reflexes.

    That combination is bad news for any heavyweight, let alone a striker like Arlovski, who has resurfaced as a legitimate divisional threat since his stint on the open market.

    It will be nice to see "The Pit Bull" step inside the Octagon once again, but don't be surprised if Schaub takes him down early, lands some shots and hands him the first submission defeat of his career.

6. Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante

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    When a bulldozer meets a tank, one of them is going to get squashed.

    That's exactly what's going to happen when light heavyweight power punchers Ryan Bader and Rafael Cavalcante meet each other inside the cage later this month.

    It's possible that Bader will opt to shoot on "Feijao," but Cavalcante is no slouch on the ground.

    That means this could turn into a one-round contest of who can land the more devastating knockout blow.

    As terrifying as their power is, Bader and Cavalcante have grown susceptible to getting tagged over their last few appearances.

    This should be a good one.

5. John Dodson vs. John Moraga

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    USA TODAY Sports

    John Dodson and John Moraga are sort of the same fighter.

    Not so much in their skills and tactical prowess inside the Octagon, but in the fact that they are not good enough to unseat champion Demetrious Johnson but too good to lose to anyone else in the division.

    However, that is bound to go out the window when they meet this coming weekend at UFC Fight Night 42.

    Dodson seems to have the immediate advantage on paper. His combination of power and speed is simply too much for any flyweight not named "Mighty Mouse" to handle, but you never know when it comes to a well-rounded and polished gamer like Moraga.

    This should turn into one of the better 125-pound contests of the year, and the fact that Dodson defeated Moraga back in 2010 on the open circuit adds a little fuel to the fire.

4. Diego Sanchez vs. Ross Pearson

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Ross Pearson is an in-the-pocket type of striker. Most of his effective punches come straight down the pipe, and he's usually at his best when closes the distance and goes nose-to-nose with his opponent.

    That's a perfect recipe for Octagon perfection when matched up against a divisional banshee like Diego Sanchez.

    As one of the wildest punchers in UFC history, one who has the fans behind him at every turn, Sanchez is going to test Pearson's chin early and often.

    It will be up to the Englishman to get around the wining fists of "The Dream" in order to get inside and land some combinations.

    There's no telling how this fight is going to play out, and that's exactly the sort of excitement that fans look for.

3. Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Besides maybe Matt Brown, no fighter in the UFC right now is hotter than Cub Swanson.

    With a five-fight win streak under this belt, including four impressive finishes, he is just one or two fights away from a title shot.

    But as any top contender must do, he has to pass one more difficult test to prove his overall worth as a championship candidate.

    Unfortunately, he must get past the ultra-strong Jeremy Stephens later this month in what will serve as UFC Fight Night 44's main event.

    Since his featherweight arrival, Stephens hasn't missed a beat, capturing three victories in a matter of eight months. He hasn't fought since January, but Swanson hasn't seen action in almost a year.

    This will be one of the more anticipated 145-pound showdowns of the year and one that could produce the next in line for the winner of Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes.

2. Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who doesn't like watching the real-life version of The Flash doing his best impression of Speedy Gonzales?

    As awesome as each of those American icons are in their own right, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson is so good that he's able to combine them every time he steps inside the cage.

    His success as arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, which is a title that fits him more than any other fighter out there, has been fueled by an unprecedented ability to play every angle possible, avoid damage, land combinations in bunches and dominate the ground game.

    Now while Johnson has seemed untouchable by doing all of this, top contender Ali Bagautinov is the exact prototype to challenge his reign.

    The 28-year-old Russian is as strong as 125-pound dynamos get and a destructive force that is capable of outlasting and outpressuring opponents through suffocation by wrestling.

    This is the only UFC title fight this month but one that should deliver so long as Bagautinov is able to stand with Johnson.

1. Rory Macdonald vs. Tyron Woodley

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Rory MacDonald made quick work of Demian Maia at UFC 170, making him look like an old, out-of-shape gatekeeper.

    Whether or not that was a product of Maia in fact being an old, out-of-shape gatekeeper has yet to be determined (although his recent performance was average at best), but "Ares" still righted the ship after losing to Robbie Lawler last November.

    That has pinned the 24-year-old (yes, MacDonald is still that young) against juggernaut and power-driven Tyron Woodley at UFC 174.

    The welterweight matchup will not only spell the next top title contender outside of Lawler and Matt Brown, but it will produce one of the most athletic showdowns the 170-pound division has ever seen.

    As two freaks of nature blessed with precision, effectiveness and overwhelming will, MacDonald and Woodley could produce one of the most entertaining bouts of 2014.

     

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