Every now and then, you run into an UFC event that features an All-Star lineup.
Even if the event doesn't seem like a strong lineup on paper, the card ends up impressing in a number of ways.
It's happened before in years past.
From the days of Ken Shamrock and the golden years of Chuck Liddell, to today’s age which is dominated by stars like Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and others, there’s been at least one card in UFC history that has been perceived as absolutely stacked from top to bottom.
Even cards that seemed to have no real star power on them were cards that had a great array of promising talent, and those cards managed to deliver as if the talent on the main card ranked among the elite.
This summer, fans who are waiting with excitement and a justifiable lack of patience for a solid card filled with top-tier talent, will no doubt have their thirsts quenched this summer, and then some.
This summer promises a wave of electricity with the lineups for the next three UFC events. But which card guarantees the most excitement from the perspective of a fan?
Is it the upcoming July 3rd card featuring what is being called “the biggest heavyweight title bout of all time?” Maybe it’s the card headlined by what might be the last fight in the UFC for the pound for pound king of MMA, or maybe it’s the UFC’s first show in Boston, headlined by a rematch of UFC 112’s co-main event.
All of these have their own appeal away from their respective double main events, but which of these three events is the most stacked from top to bottom?
Let’s have ourselves a look at each card.
UFC 116: Lesnar Vs. Carwin, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Main Event: UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar Vs. UFC Interim Heavyweight Champ Shane Carwin
Co-Main Event: “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva Vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
What’s interesting about this card?
The better question is, what’s boring about this card?
This card is Lesnar’s return to the Octagon after battling diverticulitis, and he’s facing the man who many thought was getting a title shot too soon when the original title fight for UFC 106 was made.
It also marks the return of Yoshihiro Akiyama to the Octagon as the 3rd dan black belt in Judo faces off in a middleweight war with one of the three most deadly Muay Thai strikers in the sport, Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva.
Below the two main-event fights are a welterweight fight with Matt “The Immortal” Brown and perennial Fight of the Night contender Chris “Lights Out” Lytle, the highly anticipated UFC 110 rematch between Krzysztof Soszynski and Stephan Bonnar, and a submission clinic between “The Wizard of Oz” George Sotiropoulos and Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino.
The televised prelims have Kendall Grove facing Goran Reljic and Ultimate Fighter 10 runner-up Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub facing Rugby, North Dakota’s own Chris Tuchscherer, while the prelims that may air on the PPV broadcast if time permits involve Gerald Harris, Daniel “Ninja” Roberts, and Ultimate fight 10 contestant Jon Madsen.
On paper, the only thing that serves as a monkey wrench in the “stack” is the three non-televised fights, but that’s only the case because one of those three fighters is fairly inexperienced.
Not as much as Matt Mitrione, but still a bit inexperienced is Jon Madsen.
If a stacked card is a card with recognizable faces, then this would be the most stacked card from its tip to its toes because there’s at least one fighter in each fight that every fight fan recognizes.
By stacked, though, the meaning is actually in terms of exciting fights. Depending on where you’re spectating, that may or may not be UFC 116
Still, if you look at this card and say that none of these fights are going to be exciting, then something’s wrong with you.
UFC 117: Silva Vs. Sonnen, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
Main Event: Anderson “The Spider” Silva Vs. Chael Sonnen
Co-Main Event: Matt Hughes Vs. Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida
This is the card people have been talking about since UFC 112.
People have been saying that Chael Sonnen is the man to end the eleven-fight win streak of Anderson Silva, but do they really think Chael has the tools to beat Anderson, or are they still ticked off about Silva’s performance?
Either way, Silva’s not seeing the judges’ scorecards this time.
Co-headlining is the UFC’s own “Army of One,” former welterweight titleholder Matt Hughes—the man who some still call the best in the welterweight division, while others would be bold enough to say he is the welterweight division.
Hughes will be going up against the “Big Dog” himself, Ricardo Almeida in a welterweight war to stay awake for.
Slated for this card is the long-awaited rematch between Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and Jon Fitch, which could have welterweight title implications even if it’s Josh Koscheck who is welterweight champion by that time.
Confirmed for the card is a lightweight war which sees “The Carpenter” Clay Guida face Rafael Dos Anjos in what should be an interesting affair all around.
Rounding out the part of the event that you will see live on pay-per-view on August 7th or live from Oakland, California is a heavyweight war between Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos and Ultimate Fighter Season 10 winner “Big Country” Roy Nelson.
Many of you already know my pick for this fight, and what could happen in this fight.
Featured on the prelims for this card are undefeated WEC standout Johnny Hendricks, feared light heavyweight striker Thiago Silva, welterweight sensations Rick Story and Dustin Hazelett, former Ultimate Fighter 6 contestant Ben Saunders, and slated for the event is the debuting Christian Morecraft, who is penciled in to face Stefan Struve.
I’d say that, if the Alves-Fitch rematch gets finalized and not moved again, this could be a pretty stacked card. It looks like a promising and stacked card already, but I think Alves Vs. Fitch could garner up some excitement that the card as it stands now may not be able to do, unless every fight ends up being as exciting as a Chris Lytle fight.
Stacked? Definitely. Even the fight that could be Anderson Silva’s last—whether last in the UFC or last as the king of the pound-for-pound and middleweight ranks—has the potential to be a fight that you never forget.
And this time, when you remember Anderson Silva’s fight, whether he’s still the champ or not, you’ll remember the fight for all the right reasons.
UFC 118: Penn Vs. Edgar II, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Main Event: Frankie “The Answer” Edgar Vs. “The Prodigy” BJ Penn
Co-Main Event: Randy “The Natural” Couture Vs. James “Lights Out” Toney
While this card has yet to be completed and finalized from top to bottom, we know of three definite fights on the card.
“The Natural” returns to action for the first time since choking out Mark Coleman at UFC 109 to face one of boxing’s most respected fighters in the co-main event, Kenny Florian fights Gray Maynard to see which lightweight deserves to face the lightweight champ next, and BJ Penn faces Frankie Edgar in a rematch of their five-round war at UFC 112.
Also confirmed is a middleweight bout between Greg Jackson-camp member and former middleweight contender Nate Marquardt and dangerous submission specialist Rousimar Palhares.
Scheduled for the event are Andre Winner, a welterweight bout between Marcus Davis and Nate Diaz, a middleweight bout between Jorge Rivera and Alessio Sakara, and a clash between Joe Lauzon and Terry Etim.
There’s not much I can note about this card except for the fact that this fight has the potential to be memorable if Randy Couture and James Toney can somehow provide excitement.
To do that though, Toney is going to have to show that he’s been working on his MMA skills outside of the cage.
Penn-Edgar II and Florian-Maynard both have title implications all over them, as it was originally Maynard who was supposed to get a shot at BJ Penn, but his performance against Nate Diaz prolonged that from happening, which then opened the door for Frankie Edgar.
Kenny Florian has shown that the UFC 101 loss to BJ Penn was not a career killer, as he bounced back into relevance and possible title contention by beating Clay Guida and former PRIDE standout Takanori Gomi.
A win over “The Bully” would further cement Florian’s status and put him in line for another crack at the belt.
BJ Penn has heard all the claims as to how he could have lost to Frankie Edgar, but Penn isn’t going to say that it was jet lag or a sinus problem that altered his performance in Abu Dhabi—even if that is what really happened.
Edgar is unquestionably going to come into this second fight with all intentions of proving that the first win wasn’t a fluke. To do that, no doubt his striking, wrestling, and ground game will have to be honed to its fullest.
As for the rest of the card, not much else has been made official, so I can’t say that this one is going to be stacked or not.
Which will be the bigger blockbuster?
Lesnar-Carwin, Silva-Sonnen, or Penn-Edgar II…
Which is the headliner of this summer’s most stacked card?
Well, you don’t have to go by the entire card when I say “top to bottom.”
It’s okay to just go by main cards, and the opinion is all yours.
A look at the main cards of UFCs 116, 117, and 118 show one title match each with one legend in their co-main events, but in the end, which main card provides the more exciting fights?
If a night of stylistic warfare between two contrasting styles is your cup of tea, then get amped for UFC 117 in Oakland this August.
If fights with excitement written all over them is why you love this sport, then take some of the excitement you have for UFC 115 tomorrow night, and bottle it up until UFC 116 in Las Vegas on Independence Day weekend.
If a lightweight fighting in one of the fight capitals of the U.S. is what’s causing you to get hungry for a scrapping, then you’ll want to fire yourself up for UFC 118 in Boston at the end of this August.
As for me…well, I see something in each card that I like.
The way I see it, we all win either way.