Cain Velasquez v. Brock Lesnar and the 25 Best Fights on the MMA Horizon
While it did get off to a bit of a slow start due to the injury bug 2010 has been a phenomenal year for MMA thus far.
There have been some amazing fights, a couple jaw dropping upsets and of course a few incredible come from behind victories and yet the best still may be ahead of us as the second half of 2010 is shaping up to be even better.
Here are the 25 fights fans have to look forward to before 2010 comes to a close.
25. Joe Soto vs. Joe Warren: Bellator TBA
While no date has been officially announced by Bellator, we know that we will get to see Bellator season one tournament winner and featherweight champion, Joe Soto, finally defend his title when he takes on season two tournament winner Joe Warren sometime this fall.
Soto is a young fighter with a good all-around game and it will be interesting to see how he deals with a wrestler of Warren's caliber.
24. Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki: Sengoku Raiden Championship 14
A great match-up featuring two of the best middleweights outside of the UFC.
This will be the second meeting between Santiago and Misaki.
The first meeting took place at "World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku Rebellion 2009" in January of 2009 and saw Misaki control much of the fight before being choked out in the fifth and final round.
23. Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens: UFC 119
If you are looking for a high energy back and forth slugfest, then look no further.
While Stephens and Guillard may never be true title contenders, they do know how to electrify a crowd and put on a show.
22. Lyman Good vs. Ben Askren: Bellator TBA
Due to an injury Bellator welterweight champion, Lymon Good, was unable to showcase his skills in a "superfight" during season two.
He will be ready to go this fall when he takes on season two tournament winner, Ben Askren.
Askren turned a lot of heads when he was able to not only defeat but dominate the more experienced and versatile Dan Hornbuckle in the season welterweight championship bout.
21. Jim Miller vs. Gleison Tibau: UFN 22
While Jim Miller and Gleison Tibau may not be household names among the casual fan base, rest assured that this will be a very entertaining matchup between two very talented grapplers.
Miller is currently riding a four-fight win streak and if he is able to get past Tibau he will likely move into title talks with the likes of Evan Dunham and George Sotiropoulos.
20. Tim Kennedy vs. Ronaldo Souza: Strikeforce: Houston
Strikeforce made a huge mistake by allowing the contract of Jake Shields to expire.
Now not only did Strikeforce lose one of the best fighters on their roster, but they also lost their reigning middleweight champion.
Rather than execute a tournament, Strikeforce has elected to have former US Special Forces member Tim Kennedy and BJJ phenom Ronaldo Souza fight for the title.
19. Gegard Mousasi vs. Tatsuya Mizuno: DREAM 16
Even though he lost his Strikeforce light-heavyweight title to King Mo—having his lack of takedown defense exposed in the process—Gegard Mousasi is still one of the brightest young stars in MMA today.
18. Muhammed Lawal vs. Rafael Cavalcante: Strikeforce: Houston
Flamboyant, yet utterly talented Muhammed Lawal, or King Mo as he is commonly referred to, is the brightest star on Strikeforce's current roster.
It's not just about putting on great fights.
Personalities sell brands and if Strikeforce wants to continue to contend for MMA supremacy in North America they need a star who can resonate with the fans.
King Mo is that star.
Cavalcante is a tough fighter and training with Black House you know he will be well prepared once he steps in that cage.
But Strikeforce really needs a win from King Mo so they can continue to build him into a star for their organization.
17. Alan Belcher vs. Demian Maia: UFN 22
Since joining the UFC in 2006 Alan Belcher has been up and down.
It's obvious Belcher has the talent and drive to compete at the highest levels but he has been unable to string together enough victories to get into the title picture.
With two consecutive quality wins under his belt and a wide open division, Belcher is conceivably only a victory or two away from fighting for the belt.
Standing in is his way however is BJJ ace Demian Maia, who was most recently seen at UFC 112 fighting for the middleweight title.
16. Dominick Cruz vs. Joseph Benavidez: WEC 50
Since his loss to Urijah Faber for the featherweight title at WEC 26, Dominick Cruz has dropped down to bantamweight and has been on an absolute tear, winning five straight en route to capturing the WEC bantamweight title at WEC 47.
Benavidez will be looking for revenge as Cruz defeated Benavidez back at WEC 42.
15. Eddie Alvarez vs. Pat Curran: Bellator TBA
Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is arguably one of the most underappreciated fighters in all of MMA.
Alvarez is the perfect example of a great fighter that goes almost unnoticed by the casual fan base.
Say what you will about this matchup, Pat Curran has earned his right to challenge for Alvarez's title by defeating everyone placed in his path during the Bellator season two lightweight tourney.
14. Randy Couture vs. James Toney: UFC 118
Without question, James Toney is one of the greatest boxers of his generation, but Toney fighting Randy Couture in the Octagon is as ludicrous a matchup as Jose Aldo boxing Manny Pacquiao.
Be that as it may, this is a fight every fight fan has circled on their calendar for the sheer spectacle alone.
We have all had the Boxing vs. MMA debates at one time or another.
While this won't answer any of those questions it will be fun to watch just how difficult the transition to MMA is.
13. Tyson Griffin vs. Takanori Gomi: UFC on Versus 2
Takanori Gomi is one of the greatest lightweight fighters in the history of MMA but he was completely outclassed by Kenny Florian at UFN 21 and things don't look too favorable for him again as he is matched up with "Fight of the Night" machine, Tyson Griffin.
Like Gomi, Griffin is coming off a disappointing loss and he is looking to get back on track towards getting into the title picture—a win over a name like Gomi would be a great start.
12. Jon Jones vs. Vladimir Matyushenko: UFC on Versus 2
Jon Jones is a MMA tornado, laying waste to everything in his path.
Jones is young, athletic, explosive. Every time he steps foot inside the Octagon, fans are treated to something amazing.
Simply stated, Jon Jones has future champion written all over him.
But don't get caught up in the hype as Vladimir Matyushenko is as tough and tested as they come.
11. Evan Dunham vs. Sean Sherk: UFC 119
With his win over Tyson Griffin at UFC 115, Evan Dunham announced his presence to the world and now he will look to get even closer to a title shot when he takes on former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk.
For Sherk, a win over Dunham would move him into the title picture but it would also reestablish his presence in a very deep and competitive UFC lightweight division.
10. John Hathaway vs. Dong Hyun Kim: UFC 120
Both John Hathaway and Dong Hyun Kim are fast rising, undefeated prospects in the UFC welterweight division.
Look for the winner of this fight to be fast tracked into title contention as champion Georges St. Pierre is mowing through everyone placed in front of him.
9. Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: UFC 119
The UFC light-heavyweight division has long been the premier division for the organization.
With young talent like Bader, Jones and Davis on the way up it is showing no signs of decline.
Undefeated in his career thus far, Bader has the wrestling and the power in his ever developing striking arsenal to cause a lot of problems for a lot of people.
While not as heralded as his twin brother, Rogerio’s boxing and BJJ make him just as dangerous a fighter.
A win for either fighter places them right in the thick of the light-heavyweight title hunt.
8. Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard: UFC 118
While BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar lock horns for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 118, Gray Maynard will meet Kenny Florian to decide who the division's number one contender will be.
Maynard has done plenty to deserve a title shot but because of his slow grind it out style he is the poster for "it's not that you win but rather how you win."
What can you say about Florian that hasn't already been said?
Since his time on the inaugural season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Florian has developed into one of the most complete and dangerous fighters in the world.
The only thing standing in Florian's way to becoming an all-time great is winning a major title.
If Florian can get past Maynard he will be well on his way to reaching that level.
7. Hector Lombard vs. Alexander Shlemenko: Bellator TBA
In my opinion, Hector Lombard is the best fighter no one has heard of.
Currently, the Bellator middleweight champion is riding a 19-fight unbeaten streak and in his last outing he recorded an impressive six second KO.
Sometime this fall Lomard will defend his Bellator title against Bellator season two middleweight tournament winner, Alexander Shlemenko.
Shlemenko, like Lombard, is relatively unknown outside of the hardcore fan base, but he is easily one of the most creative and dynamic strikers in the game today.
6. Carlos Condit vs. Dan Hardy: UFC 120
Unlike the other fights in the top ten, the upcoming bout between Carlos Condit and Dan Hardy has no title implications. This is just a fight that has excitement written all over it.
Both Condit and Hardy are technical brawlers; they both enjoy a good fight but they are both controlled in their approach.
This should be a back and forth battle between two of the grittiest fighters the sport has to offer.
5. Jose Aldo vs. Manny Gamburyan: WEC 51
In one word Jose Aldo v. Manny Gamburyan will be EXPLOSIVE.
Aldo is the reigning and defending WEC featherweight champion and he has dominated the opposition in such a way that it is difficult to even imagine someone being able to knock him off his perch atop the division.
Since dropping down to the featherweight division, Gamburyan has looked great and in his last outing he annihilated former WEC featherweight champion, Mike Brown, via first round KO.
Both guys have a ton of power and both guys enjoy throwing the leather and that should translate into a very exciting fight for the fans.
4. Junior Dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson: UFC 117
Love him or hate him, Roy "Big Country" Nelson is the real deal.
While he looks more like a trailer park maintenance man than a world class fighter, Nelson has all the tools to shock the world and wear UFC gold one day.
In order to do that Nelson will first have to get through the fast and powerful KO machine known as Junior Dos Santos.
Since making his UFC debut, JDS is 5-0 and has stopped everyone placed in his way.
Both guys will be extremely motivated coming in as the winner of this fight gets to challenge the winner of Lesnar-Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title.
3. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen: UFC 117
Anderson Silva is one of the greatest fighters we have ever seen in the world of MMA.
But as of late, he has made a mockery of what MMA is supposed to be about.
Be it a lack of motivation or a lack of respect for his opponent’s abilities, Silva has elected to coast to victory rather than drive home the fact that he is the most dangerous striker in MMA.
Against Chael Sonnen, Silva should be plenty motivated coming in as Sonnen has been doing everything he can to get under the champion's skin. Skill-wise, Sonnen’s blend of wrestling, grit and determination will ensure that we see Silva be the best he can be.
2. Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn: UFC 118
No disrespect intended for Frankie Edgar, Edgar came out at UFC 112 and executed a solid game plan to win the lightweight title, but there was something just not right about BJ Penn in that performance.
Penn looked out of it during the fight and on any other night it is difficult to imagine Edgar getting the better of Penn.
Expect to see BJ Penn in top form come UFC 118.
If that is the case, it will be a long night for Frankie Edgar.
1. Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez: UFC 121
While I doubt that Velasquez v. Lesnar will be able to generate the type of hype as Carwin v. Lesnar, I have little doubt that it will be a much better match-up and fight in general.
Cain Velasquez has the hunger, drive, cardio, technical striking and wrestling to pose a lot of different threats to Lesnar.
But after witnessing the kind of toughness Lesnar possesses, it's going to be a long and hard night.
Brock Lesnar is the king of the mountain.
And if he can shore up his striking defense, he could sit atop that mountain for as long as he chooses.