With 2011 just underway, we have 11 months filled with world class MMA to look forward to.
There are many hyped matches coming up, such as the much-anticipated bout between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort. There will also be many other stars in each of the UFC's weight classes looking for glory.
The fighters involved in some of the key matches will be looking to hold on to previously claimed titles and resurrect careers that showed signs of faltering in 2010.
2011 looks to be another great year for the UFC, and with so many great fights already scheduled, let's take a look at just five fights that you will definitely not want to miss out on.
This fight is a no-brainer. Even though it does not really have direct title implications, it has the potential to be a fight of the night contender.
With Hardy coming off back-to-back losses against George St-Pierre and Carlos Condit, and Johnson returning from a knee injury, anything can happen. One thing is for sure: Both fighters will be looking to perform at their highest level, and with these two fighters, they will most likely be looking for a decisive KO victory.
With 17 combined career KO/TKO victories between the two fighters, you can guarantee that once the bell sounds, the leather is going to fly.
Johnson, a beast who has flirted with multiple weight classes in his MMA career, is finally healthy and looks to fulfill the promise that has been just out of reach so far in his career.
Dan Hardy is hoping to continue his learning curve, and his growth as a more well rounded MMA fighter and the veteran Johnson is a great test for him. This will be an eye-peeler for sure, and make sure you don’t miss this battle between two of the best strikers in the 170-pound division.
This is a lock for the main event of the evening and could turn out to be one of the best title fights of the year. Originally scheduled to take place last year, the fight was postponed due to an injury suffered by Belfort, which allowed Chael Sonnen to fill the void leading to one of the greatest title fights in UFC history.
Belfort, who comes into this fight having knocked out his last three opponents, will look to use his lightning quick strikes and unmatched level of experience having made his first appearance in the UFC in 1997.
Belfort’s biggest challenge will be getting over the mental hump that seems to have plagued him in past fights, though a healthy and focused Vitor is one of the most exciting fighters in the world. He will need all of the stars to align for this bout as he takes on arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world in Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
Silva is currently undefeated in the UFC at 12-0 and holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history with seven. Silva will use his unpredictable and vast repertoire of strikes in order to control Belfort and set him up for the knockout.
Either way, this fight will not be short of excitement, as Belfort looks to regain past glory and Silva hopes to cement his stake as the best P4P fighter ever.
It’s hard not to get excited when crafty UFC veteran Jim Miller is stepping into the cage. Miller, the owner of an 8-1 record in the UFC, including four wins in 2010, is easily one of the most exciting fighters on the UFC roster.
However, standing in his way of being a top contender is WEC veteran and all world-wrestler Kamal Shalorus. Shalorus will be a tough test for Miller, as he brings his 7-0-2 record and well-tested grappling skills into this exciting match-up.
Coming off of his Submission of the Night victory at UFC 124, Miller will look to take this fight wherever he needs to in order to secure the victory. Before he can earn a title shot, though, he will have to break down the defenses of the battle-ready Shalorus in a bout that you will not want to miss.
With BJ Penn back in the welterweight division and rejuvenated after his huge KO victory against rival Matt Hughes, Penn will take on one of his toughest tests to date in superstar Jon Fitch.
Fitch, the winner of five straight matches and the owner of a 13-1 overall record in the UFC, will look to continue his winning ways against the former champion. With a victory over Penn, Fitch would most likely secure a second title shot against P4P stalwart George St. Pierre.
Fitch will have his hands full against BJ Penn, as Penn looks to re-kindle some of his former glory in the welterweight division.
It will be a hard fought battle, and look for this fight to have a little bit of everything, as these are two of the most well rounded fighters in any division.
This bout will match the No. 6 and 7 light heavyweights in the world against each other and may secure a number one contender spot for the winner.
Ryan “Darth” Bader comes into this bout with a perfect 12-0 record, which is extremely rare particularly in the LHW division. Bader, a former Ultimate Fighter winner, will try and use his dominant wrestling to setup his big right hand and to control the dangerous and elusive Jon Jones.
Jon “Bones” Jones comes into this fight with all the hype that a future champion could ever hope to garner. His explosive style has led him to an 11-1 record, with his only loss coming by way of an unfortunate DQ against Matt Hamill.
Jones will try to use his bone-crushing elbows and Greco Roman background in order to keep Bader at bay.
This fight will be intense from the moment the bell rings and will showcase two of the most highly touted LHW’s in the world.