2010 didn't exactly get off to the greatest start. Between the UFC injury bug, some poor matchmaking, lackluster main events, and a brawl on live network television it was beginning to look like a down year for the fastest growing sport.
But then Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung saved the day with their back and forth battle for the ages at WEC 48.
Now the table is set for an exciting summer lineup of fights and another year of explosive growth for the sport.
Chuck Liddell vs. Rich Franklin, UFC 115
A light-heavyweight matchup between two of the best to ever compete in the UFC. Both Franklin and Liddell are past their primes as far as title contention goes but these guys still have some fight left in them and they know how to put on a show for the fans.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama, UFC 116
An electric middleweight matchup that could potentially put the winner into title contention. Mix in the international appeal of both fighters and the fact that Wanderlei Silva couldn't be in a boring fight if he tried and you have a great opening act to UFC 116's showdown of the goliaths.
Jon Jones is simply a beast and he has completely annihilated everyone the UFC has put in front of him. But, as good as he has looked up to this point Jones is still a very raw and very young fighter who has a long way to go in his development.
Matyushenko may not be a name that casual fight fans are familiar with but rest assured he is as tough and experienced as they come and he is going to give us all a good look at just how good Jones really is.
Originally slated to take place at UFC 111, the highly anticipated rematch between top welterweights Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves is set to take place this summer.
Fitch and Alves are both hungry for another crack UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre but both are in need of a spectacular finish to write that ticket. This bout will ultimately come down to who has improved more since they first met back at Ultimate Fight Night 5.
Remember when the UFC heavyweight division was weak and lackluster? That certainly isn't the case anymore, not with sharks like Brazilian KO machine, Junior dos Santos, inhabiting the waters.
JDS is currently 5-0 in the UFC with all five wins coming via stoppage and he is just waiting for his turn to compete for the heavyweight title.
Next up for JDS is a dangerous showdown for TUF winner Roy Nelson. While Nelson may not have the look of a world-class fighter, he is one of the best in the business and he is eager to shock the world and establish himself as a legitimate title threat.
With BJ Penn getting an immediate rematch against Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight title, Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard are set to battle it out for the next title shot.
Maynard hasn't lost a fight since his time on TUF and even has a unanimous decision victory over current champion Frankie Edgar but his style in the cage has not done him any favors. Maynard just doesn't have the flash to turn heads but a win over Kenny Florian will leave no doubt that he is deserving of the shot.
But beating Florian is much easier said than done. Florian is 9-2 as a lightweight in the UFC with his only losses coming in title matches. Eager for another opportunity and hungry to get over the championship hump, Florian will be stepping into the cage as the best fighter he has ever been.
If this list were only about exciting matchups with title implications then this fight would not even be an honorable mention but when boxing legend, James Toney steps into the Octagon to square off with MMA legend Randy Couture it will be an event that fight fans won't want to miss.
Couture should have very little trouble getting the win in this matchup but every fight starts on the feet and is Couture leaves even the tiniest of openings Toney will catch him and put him to sleep.
Not to take anything away from a flawlessly executed game plan by Frankie Edgar but something just didn't seem right about BJ Penn at UFC 112.
Penn looked okay early on but at the fight continued he was visibly gassed and slow to the punch and Edgar took full advantage of it by pushing the pace and never allowing Penn to find his rhythm.
It will be interesting to see if Edgar can have the same success in the rematch or if the BJ Penn who thoroughly handled Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez shows up.
Without question, Anderson Silva is one of, if not the best fighters on the planet but his technical brilliance does not excuse his behavior at UFC 112. Silva needs to find the motivation to prove he is the best every time he steps inside that cage.
Many fans aren't exactly excited for Silva's looming matchup with top middleweight contender Chael Sonnen but they should be.
Sonnen may not have the most exciting style but he is going to come forward and he is going to put pressure on Silva. If there is a chink in Silva's armor it's his wrestling and that just so happens to be Sonnen's bread and butter.
Mix in the fact that Sonnen has been one of Silva's biggest and most vocal critics and the buildup alone is enough to be excited for.
Much like the James Toney v. Randy Couture matchup, don't expect to be blown away with back and forth action when Fedor Emelianenko takes on Fabricio Werdum.
While it’s debatable whether or not Fedor can still be considered the best fighter in the world, it is without question that he is one of the best this young sport has ever seen and anytime he fights fans should take notice.
These two guys just don't like one another and at UFC 114 Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans not only get a chance to settle their score but the winner of their bout gets the first crack at newly crowned light-heavyweight champion Shogun Rua.
Rampage and Evans have very similar fighting styles so this one is going to come down to who has the better game plan and who can impose their will on the other.
This battle of modern day monsters will be the biggest event in MMA this summer, hands down. If you aren't already pumped to see polarizing UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar do battle with interim champion Shane Carwin you might want to check your pulse.
Carwin and Lesnar both represent the evolution of the heavyweight division. They are big, strong, athletic, skilled, and fierce. You are not going to want to miss this epic showdown.