UFC: 15 Fights Dana White and Joe Silva Need To Make Happen This Year
We are now closing in on the end of January. For most of us that usually means that our resolutions are just about on their last legs, but for the MMA faithful, it means that there are only 11 more months worth of MMA cards left in 2011.
So with that said, the sport's biggest promotion around has 11 more months to put on mind-blowing matchups to quench the bloodthirsty masses of TapOut T-Shirt wearing fanboys.
While UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva scratch their heads over what fights to set up this year, Bleacher Report would like to make some suggestions that hopefully won't fall on deaf ears.
15. Ben Henderson Vs. Takanori Gomi
You gotta feel bad for Ben Henderson. Before the end of last year, he was the WEC Lightweight champ and riding high on just being "Smooth.. Unfortunately, for Henderson, he met up with a man who goes by the name of Showtime and his life was forever changed .
We all have seen "the kick" by now, it was the the culmination of a championship fight which served as the perfect swan song to the WEC as a promotion; it's just a shame that Henderson will forever be immortalized in highlight reels as being on the receiving end of such a spectacular move.
In one fell swoop he lost the fight, his title, and a guaranteed title shot against current UFC Lightweight champ Frankie Edgar for a unification of the lightweight belts.
Being the second-best WEC lightweight affords Henderson the opportunity to still have a home within the UFC, but he will need to prove himself, and fast.
A perfect comeback fight for Smooth would be against Takanori Gomi. The Fireball Kid has a nice skill set that would provide enough of a challenge to Henderson to make the fight entertaining, but is not too dangerous enough of an opponent where the former WEC Champ can't score a win.
14. Jim Miller Vs. Melvin Guillard
These two would serve us a great fight, which could take place some time in the late spring.
With Guillard's renewed focus earning him a string of victories, thanks in part to his recent switch to trainer Greg Jackson, and Miller's six-fight win streak, this would be a Fight of the Night contender for sure.
13. Phil Davis Vs. Rich Franklin
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You may have a look of confusion on your face when you first saw this next entry, but before you pass judgement, think about a few things:
- Franklin, 36, is not getting any younger.
- He's in a division which allows him to play more of a gate keeper role than make a run at the title.
- Phil Davis is one of those new, young up and coming fighters with great athleticism and marketability who can continue to keep the Light Heavyweight division atop one of the most highly exciting divisions in MMA.
- Even though Davis has been on a winning streak as of late, he needs to be tested by a fighter that use his experience and mental skill set to really see if Davis is ready for the next level.
12. Miguel Torres Vs. Joseph Benavidez
As a frequent co-host on MMA Live, Miguel Torres shows that he could have a nice career in sportscasting once he's done fighting, but for now he needs to bring his mullet back to the cage.
The former WEC (now UFC) Bantamweight champion will be making his UFC debut next month at UFC 126 against Antonio Banuelos.
Provided that Torres gets past this test, Dana White and Joe Silva should throw him in the cage against Team Alpha Male standout, Joseph Benavidez.
This match up will serve as a great confidence booster for Torres to continue making his climb back toward the belt, considering that Benavidez handed him his third-ever professional loss.
11. George Sotiropoulos Vs. Kenny Florian
He's gotta get his FLO back. The self-proclaimed Samurai has been scolded by his "master" Dana White for not being able to come up with a win when it comes to big fights.
Sotiropoulos, on the other hand, has been on a seven-fight tear ever since his time on season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter.
The Aussie is a very skillful fighter who is equally dangerous on the feet as he is on the ground. It would be a treat to any hardcore MMA fan to see two technicians like these go at it.
10. Wanderlei Silva Vs. Brian Stann
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This fight is actually one that could happen sooner than most would think. Shortly after his victory over Chris Leben at UFC 125 on New Year's Day, Stann indicated that it would be an honor to fight one of his heroes, Wanderlei Silva.
Stann exhibits that raw power and improving striking skill that could give The Axe Murderer one of his toughest fights as of late.
Don't blink in this one.
9. Anthony Pettis Vs. Jim Miller
Anthony "Showtime" Pettis' 2010 was something of a rags to riches story. In September, he starred in a new MTV show, "The World of Jenks" whose segments focus on the protagonist spending a few days in the life of unique members of Generation Y.
In Pettis, you saw a young man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was focused, respectful, and determined to win for his family.
Winning three straight fights in 2010 set him up to take on the WEC's then Lightweight champ, Ben Henderson in the promotion finale.
The fight was practically a draw right down the middle all the way until about the last 60 seconds of the match, where Pettis truly showed the world why he more than any other fighter as of late is worthy of his nickname.
Provided that he gets past Clay Guida in June, and the winner of Edgar Maynard III, Jim Miller should be next in line.
Miller has been on a hot streak of wins since UFC 100, and is definitely setting himself up to be in line for a title shot, so if all the pieces fall in the right place, we could end up seeing a Pettis-Miller championship bout by the year's end.
8. Carlos Condit Vs. Josh Koscheck
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This fight is all about attitude. Carlos Condit is about taking people out and is not afraid to let you know that he doesn't like you, and with Josh Koscheck, you have a guy who spent the latter half of 2010 talking endless smack to current welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre, and paying dearly for it.
These two would make an interesting style match up in that Kos has good hands and great wrestling, while Condit has incredible knockout power and solid submissions.
Expect to see this as a mid-year match up.
7. Frank Mir Vs. Roy Nelson
This fight should have happened a few months ago, but nevertheless could still be scheduled in 2011 and would still be a good co-main event.
A match up between these two would be pretty entertaining in both areas of the battle.
ON THE FEET
From the stand up , both have respectable power and ability.
In addition, from the looks of things, Nelson can take a punch. We saw a perfect example of this when Nelson took on Junior Dos Santos at UFC 117 in a three-round slobber-knocker.
However, I can't say the same thing for Frank Mir. In his past bouts with power punchers, he tends to buckle and turtle up.
ON THE GROUND
Lets say Mir does get trapped on the losing end of a stand up affair; his best bet would be to take it to the ground ASAP where he might stand a better chance.
Both men have a high level of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and have met before at the widely known grappling tournament, Grappler's Quest, in 2003.
#6- BJ Penn Vs. Jake Sheilds
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BJ Penn needs to hate you, or at least fabricate hatred in order to get amped up for a bout. Anything that he views as a slight to him, no matter how small, will be overly exaggerated to almost comedic levels.
Enter Jake Shields. The guy is tailor made for a fighter like Penn; he's this clean-cut former Strikeforce champion who jumped ship to come to the UFC. Can you imagine how Penn could spin that into some sort of disrespect to his honor?
Also, and let's face it, there is no way that Jake Shields is going to beat Georges St. Pierre on April 30, so a nice comeback fight would be for him to face off against another major name in Penn.
Ah.. I can hear it now: "Oh, so you think you're big stuff cause you came from some second-tier promotion huh?..."
5. Ryan Bader Vs. Forrest Griffin
Regardless of the outcome of Bader's upcoming match up against fellow Light Heavyweight young gun, Jon Jones, a match up against Forrest Griffin would be great for both fighters involved.
From Bader's standpoint, if he coming off of a loss against Jones, then a win over Griffin keeps him in the proverbial "mix" within the division.
If he's able to beat Jones next month, then a Griffin match up will serve as the final hurdle before Bader moves into No. 1 contender status.
With Griffin, who will have his hands full against Rich Franklin as well next month, a win over Bader allows him to remain relevant while he still tries to get settled back in after taking more than a year off due to injury.
#4- Jon Fitch Vs. Georges St. Pierre
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Fair is fair, and Dana White needs to do the right thing and push for a Jon Fitch rematch against GSP provided that he beats BJ Penn at UFC 127.
A few weeks ago I watched their first meeting at UFC 87 and found that Fitch has been the only welterweight besides Dan Hardy to really give Rush a challenge.
While Fitch might not be as athletic as St.-Pierre, he's a grinder with a similar style. Over the past 2.5 years since that fight, Fitch has basically employed the same style "Ground and Stall" style that the champ uses, but because he doesn't look like he belongs on the GQ magazine he gets killed for it by the fans.
Fitch deserves to be GSP's final fight at 170 before a potential move up to middleweight; he's waited long enough.
#3- Jon Jones Vs. Rampage Jackson
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Everyone wants to put the cart before the horse when it comes to Jon Jones, but UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has been smart to give feed Jones progressively harder fights over the past few years.
Fortunately for Jones, his skill set is begging to be challenged by bigger and better fighters.
This is where Rampage Jackson comes into play. Provided that Jones defeats Ryan Bader next month, a Rampage-Jones bout would be an excellent main event to a Fourth of July weekend card.
Jackson presents a mix of brute knockout power, solid wrestling and "grown man" strength that would give Jones the perfect final assessment to put him through No. 1 contender status.
2. Dominick Cruz Vs. Urijah Faber
With the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter set to air in March, a Cruz/Faber match up could serve as the perfect ending to the traditional fight which takes place between TUF coaches after each season.
Ever since the WEC was folded into the UFC towards the end of last year, there has been much talk about a possible TUF featuring Cruz and Faber as the coaches.
What better way to set up a year ending card in December with the culmination of TUF season 14 having these two engage in a rematch of their 2007 battle?
1. Anderson Silva Vs. Georges St.-Pierre
Of course, the No. 1 fight on the minds of all UFC fans has to be a super fight between Anderson Silva and Georges St.- Pierre,
Let's face facts, this fight would break all previous box office and pay-per-view records that the promotion has ever had.
The likelihood that this fight would happen this year is probably unlikely, but hey it never hurts to ask.