Most Anticipated MMA Fights of the Summer

E. Spencer Kyte@@spencerkyteSenior Analyst IJuly 1, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  MMA Superstar Gina Carano is seen during the Workout/Media Day with Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano at the Legends Mixed Martial Arts Training Center on September 17, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Like the film industry, the truly massive events of the Mixed Martial Arts world go down in the summer.

With UFC 100, Affliction: Trilogy, Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg and other great cards lined up for the coming months, it's time to reveal the 10 most anticipated fights of summer 2009.  

10. Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia - UFC 102, August 29

Regardless of whether it turns out to be the No. 1 Contenders match it was originally slated to be, this will be an outstanding fight.

Marquardt, the seven-time King of Pancrase, doesn't get the respect he deserves and is looking for another shot at Anderson Silva.

Meanwhile, Maia has made everyone he's faced tap thanks to the best BJJ game in MMA, but faces the toughest test of his career in Nate the Great.

9. Josh Thomson vs. Gilbert Melendez - Strikeforce, August 15

The rematch that was supposed to take place earlier in the year will finally go down now that "The Punk" has recovered from a leg injury.

These two put on a terrific fight the first time they tangled, with Thomson earning the win and the Strikeforce Lightweight title. Now "Scrap Pack" member Melendez gets another chance after earning the interim version of the belt back in April.

8. Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - UFC 102, August 29

The main event of the card is also one I look forward to, as two legends meet for the first time and both are coming off high-profile defeats.

Couture was dethroned as UFC Heavyweight Champion by a steamroller named Brock Lesnar, while Nogueira lost his TUF 8 coaches bout and Interim Heavyweight Title to Frank Mir by being knocked out for the first time in his career.

7. B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian - UFC 101, August 8

It's hard to believe that this battle for the UFC Lightweight title is getting as little attention as it is, but that only goes to prove how impressive the summer schedule of fights really is.

Florian has grown by leaps and bounds since being on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and Penn is, well, he's B.J. Penn. You never know what you're going to get and that is what has me dying to see this fight.

6. Miguel Torres vs. Brian Bowles - WEC 42, August 9

August is easily the best month ever in terms of quality fights and this bout for the WEC Featherweight title is a big part of the excitement.

Originally supposed to take place earlier in the year, Bowles was injured and forced to withdraw. In his place, Torres and Takeya Mizugaki put on what I currently rank as Fight of the Year.

Expect fireworks.

5. Fedor Emelianenko vs.s Josh Barnett - Affliction: Trilogy, August 1

Seriously, the first nine days of August will leave you spent if you're a fight fan.

After years of being the top two heavyweights in Japan, close friends Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett will finally go toe-to-toe.

For Barnett, it is a chance to emerge from his friend's immense shadow, while "The Last Emperor" can silence any critics doubting his talents after his last two opponents have come up short since falling to Fedor.

4. Georges St-Pierre vs. Thiago Alves - UFC 100, July 11

I've personally called this Georges St-Pierre's toughest test to date and while some may disagree, you can't tell me this isn't going to be one helluva fight!

Another dominating win for GSP removes all the questions surrounding "Greasegate" and solidifies his place in the upper echelon of fighters, while an upset would propel Alves into superstardom.

Imagine, this is only No. 4 on the list.

3. Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin - UFC 101, August 8

Penn vs. Florian may be the last fight to take the ring, but this is the fight everyone is talking about when it comes to UFC 101.

After two lackluster performances in a row, Silva is thrown a serious challenge in the form of The Original Ultimate Fighter Forrest Griffin.

Side note: how come Griffin is always referred to as "The Original Ultimate Fighter" when both he and Diego Sanchez earned contracts that night? Weird...

Anyway, this fight seems to come up every time we tape a podcast for Watch Kalib Run and I'm sure all the fight fans here at Bleacher Report are looking forward to it as much as I am.

2. Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar - UFC 100, July 11

There is no in between with this fight; either you think Lesnar is the next big thing in MMA and the second time around will be a different story or you believe Mir to be the superior superstar and a repeat of their first fight is fast approaching.

Personally, I'm part of Team Lesnar, but that's just me. What I can say with all certainty is that everyone is looking forward to this fight.

1. Gina Carano vs. Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos - Strikeforce, August 15

This one ranks on top not only because it stands to be one of the best fights of the summer, but also because of the huge implications carried along with it.

Carano is the face of women's MMA and this marks the first time two female fights have headlined a major fight card.

Sherdog's Loretta Hunt thinks it will be the biggest story in MMA and since I've got it as the most anticipated fight of the summer, you know that I don't disagree.

What fights are you most looking forward to? Who'd we leave out? Let us know.


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