December's Key Fights
Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
"OH MY GOODNESS! DID YOU SEE THAT? HE RAN OFF THE WALL LIKE A NINJA!" Stephan Bonnar
Although this fight had much more to offer than the amazing matrix kick executed by the WEC's final lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, that was the moment that stuck out and will forever be one of the ultimate MMA highlights.
A back-and-forth affair between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis had the crowd on their feet for most of the fight. Pettis landing the better of the strikes as expected, Henderson with better control once the fight hit the ground.
Neither man should be ashamed with the outcome, although with what was at stake, it's easy to see how one can be upset. Either way, whoever the judges said won the fight, won the fight. It was too close of a battle to say there was a clear-cut winner.
Get ready for a big leap in competition Pettis, you're facing the best of the best now.
Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira
This fight went down as most level-headed fans predicted. Even though Charles Oliveira was riding mighty high following two exciting submission victories, his next challenger was a new breed of a fighter that Oliveira had yet to see.
Being well-rounded, Jim Miller can fight just about anywhere and find success. Deciding to avoid the fast-pace striking game that Oliveira was deploying, Miller took the fight to the ground where both battled for submissions. In a battle of leg locks, Miller eventually forced the tap from Oliveira after securing a tight knee bar.
Miller is on the cusp of that title shot, one more win against an established contender should push him over that hump. Somebody like Sean Sherk or the winner of the Takanori Gomi/ Clay Guida fight.
Joe Stevenson vs. Mac Danzig
Joe Stevenson's career has taken a dramatic turn over the past couple of years. Once a title challenger, he is now struggling to get a winning streak going. Losing two straight, Stevenson has officially fallen from the top ten of a tough division.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 winner, Mac Danzig pulled himself from the slump that he's been experiencing. Once on the verge of the UFC axe, Danzig stunned many fans with a knockout punch over a former contender and has proved that he still belongs in the UFC.
January's Key Fights
Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard (Championship Bout)
Despite evolving his game to another level, UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar finds himself as the underdog to the much larger Gray Maynard. Not only will Edgar be looking to once again establish himself as the best lightweight in the world, but he will also be looking to erase the only loss on his record.
Challenging for his first ever title, Maynard has done well in going about his business and biding his time for the shot. Looking to prove that the first time wasn't a fluke, look for Maynard to try and bully Edgar around the cage for five rounds.
Although many signs point towards another lightweight championship decision, don't give up hope just yet. Low expectations generally result in more satisfaction.
Takanori Gomi vs. Clay Guida
The winner of this bout will get the first big name required to start a legitimate title run in a very stacked division. Expect both fighters to bring in a very steady pace with their respected styles.
Clay Guida will undoubtedly look to get the fight to the ground while Takanori Gomi will look to sprawl and counter-strike with his opponent's frenetic take-downs. Whoever finds their rhythm first will likely find himself with his hand raised.
Evan Dunham vs. Melvin Guillard
Originally scheduled to face Yves Edwards on the same Ultimate Fight Night 23 card, Melvin Guillard jumped at the chance to rise his stock against a top 10 opponent when an injury forced Kenny Florian from a fight against Evan Dunham. A win would be huge for Guillard and would likely propel him into the top ten of title contention.
Even though many believed that Evan Dunham didn't really lose his last fight, expect the BJJ black belt to come in looking for a convincing finish to avoid the judges and prove he deserves his spot in the top ten. How that will play out against the wild-yet-tame style of Guillard, only time will tell.
Noteworthy- Nick Lentz (20-3), Tyson Griffin (14-5), Melvin Guillard (26-8-2-1), & Ben Henderson (12-2)
10- Clay Guida (27-11)
9- Evan Dunham (11-1)
8- Kenny Florian (13-5)
7- Sean Sherk (34-4-1)
6- B.J. Penn (16-7-1)
5- Takanori Gomi (32-6-0-1)
4- George Sotiropoulos (14-2)
3- Jim Miller (19-2)
2- Anthony Pettis (12-1)
1- Gray Maynard (10-0-0-1)
Champion- Frankie Edgar (13-1)