All 7 UFC Belts Could Be on the Line During Second Half of 2011
With the surge in the amount of UFC events over the last few years, one downside is that less and less PPV events are being anchored with a title fight. While the UFC usually does a good job putting together PPV cards worth the price of admission, many fans are feeling a bit slighted.
With that said, fans of title fights may be in store for an embarrassment or riches during the second half of 2011 where, if the stars all align, we could bear witness to all seven UFC belts being defended. Four title fights are already on the books, with one being tentatively booked, while three others are likely to happen as long as all the fighters in question heal from their respective injuries.
Lets take a look shall we.
UFC 132- Bantamweight Title Fight: Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber
Dominick Cruz is the incoming bantamweight champion of the now defunct WEC and he will be making the first defense of his UFC converted belt. What better way to make his Octagon debut then by defending his bling against former featherweight champion Urijah Faber.
To make things even better, these two have fought before. It was back in 2007 at WEC 26 when the two skirmished for Faber’s WEC featherweight strap. The encounter did not last long as the “California Kid” choked Cruz out with a guillotine choke in the first round.
After the crushing loss, Cruz would drop to bantamweight where he has gone to record an eight-fight win streak, capture the bantamweight title in March of last year and has successfully defended it twice.
A rematch and title fight with Faber will be his stiffest test to date, no doubt Cruz is a significantly better fighter then when the two met over four years ago.
UFC 134- Middleweight Title Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami
Yushin Okami was the last fighter to "defeat" Anderson Silva.
But if you dig a little deeper, you will find out that Silva was on his way to winning that fight before he was disqualified for an illegal up kick. Ever since Okami made his way over to the UFC and started racking up wins, fans have been clamoring for him to get a title shot, and rematch, with Silva.
After a few failed attempts, Okami is finally getting his shot and will have to go down in the sweltering summer heat of Brazil to do so. Most won’t be giving Okami a chance but never say never in this fickle sport.
If Silva gets by Okami, it will be interesting if his next bout is a middleweight title defense, a super fight with Georges St-Pierre, or a move back up to light heavyweight. Your guess is as good as anyone’s.
UFC 135- Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson
Jon Jones was supposed to be making his first title defense against former training partner and "friend" Rashad Evans. The UFC ratcheted up the hype for their pending fight by having Evans get into the cage after Jones had just got through eviscerating former champ Shogun Rua.
Talk about awkward.
After that, the relationship between the two completely unraveled and got ugly for all of America to partake in.
But the plug got pulled on their fight and now Evans will be fighting the highest ranked whippersnapper in the division in Phil Davis at UFC 133, while Jon Jones is tentatively scheduled to take on Rampage “I want my belt back” Jackson at UFC 135. Tentatively because both are dealing with respective hand injuries.
Jackson is all about “black on black” crime so he should have no problem getting motivated for this fight, especially since he will have a shot to get back the belt that he felt Forrest Griffin robbed him of.
This will be another “changing of the guard” fight. Jones went "new school" on "old school" Shogun Rua. Will he do the same on Rampage?
UFC 140- Welterweight Title Fight: Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
If for no other reason, this will will be exciting for the complete contrast not only in fight style but personality.
Georges St-Pierre is the self-effacing hard-working 'ah shucks' kind of poster boy that has been great for the UFC to market; he has done funny commercials on ESPN, but he has also taken recent flak from fans for being straight-up boring (in their eyes). So what better way to squirt some lemon in the eye then have his polar opposite Nick Diaz mosey on into the Octagon with him.
If there is one thing you can’t accuse Diaz of being in, it’s a boring fight. You can point the finger at him for not being cagey enough against UFC wrestlers. The last time Diaz was doing this thing inside the Octagon he didn’t fair so well against fighters that have a penchant for takedowns, so he parted ways for greener pastures.
Many think Diaz will pose little threat to the most vaunted wrestler in MMA today. Be that as it may, you can never count Diaz out of being in an exciting fight. Will GSP acquiesce? Let the taunting begin.
TBA- Lightweight Title Fight: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III
When it was confirmed that these two lightweights would be headlining the New Years Eve UFC 125 fight card, well let's just say no one was "geeking out" over the news and the PPV went on to do uninspiring numbers at the box office. For those lucky enough to have broken down and bought it, they were treated to one of the best fights of this early decade.
So when it was announced that the trilogy was scheduled for UFC 130, well lets just say it piqued people’s interest just a tad more. But that cruel temptress of MMA, injuries, vexed this fight twice over as both Edgar and Maynard had to pull out.
It has been chattered that the fight could be rescheduled for as early as September, so it appears as if this fight will go down before years end, which just adds to the awesomeness of the 2011's fall lineup.
TBA-Heavyweight Title Fight: Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos
The Heavyweight fight that is being compared to this MMA generations "Fedor vs. Cro Cop" looks like it will finally go down in the second half of 2011.
The two were originally set to lock horns after Velasquez ran roughshod over Brock Lesnar. But the first Mexican champion in UFC History suffered a serious shoulder injury which has sidelined him up until now.
Junior dos Santos refused to wait so he took a fight, along with a TUF coaching assignment, opposite Brock Lesnar. Lesnar went on to have to pull out of that fight due to a second flair-up of Diverticulitis so instead dos Santos took on the formerly-formidable Shane Carwin at UFC 131.
Emerging ever so victorious, dos Santos and Velasquez look ready to finally do this. Everyone is now just waiting around for Velasquez to be cleared by doctors so he can resume training and we can all partake in what could go down as one of the greatest heavyweight bouts in MMA history.
Hype or die?
TBA- Featherweight Title Fight: Jose Aldo vs. Kenny Florian
Jose Aldo finally made his debut as UFC featherweight Champ at UFC 129 when he took on Mark “I’m Coming Home” Hominick in front of a raucous Canadian crowd.
Aldo battered the hometown hero for five rounds but Hominick put up his own fight and tested the resolve of the young Brazilian champ in round five. Alas, it was not enough.
Aldo was slated to take on undefeated alpha-male wrestler Chad Mendes at UFC 133 but was not medically cleared due to damage he took at UFC 129, so he was unable to start a training camp in time for that fight. Mendes didn’t want to wait around and took another opponent at UFC 133.
Enter Kenny Florian. KenFlo made his featherweight debut this past weekend at UFC 131 taking out the highly touted 16-1 Diego Nunes. At the post-fight press conference, Dana White said it was “most likely” that Aldo would defend his belt against Florian in a fight that has plenty of time to come together by the end of 2011.