If you're a fight fan, October is going to be a very sweet month.
Just those headliners—both of which are hotly contested title bouts—are enough to put a smile on any aficionado of mixed martial arts.
And spark a contentious debate about which bonanza is better.
Oh, but Dana White and Joe Silva didn't stop there.
The UFC President and its primary talent czar gave in to their generosity a little early this year, piling talented name upon talented name for both events.
UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo, Carlos Condit, Mirko Filipovic, Kenny Florian, Melvin Guillard, Dave Herman, Demian Maia, Matt Mitrione, Roy Nelson, B.J. Penn, Dennis Siver, Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann and Sam Stout are just some of the fan-favorites and rising stars who should be stepping in the Octagon.
The official cards haven't been released, but once the organization reports a bout, the rest is a mere formality (assuming the injury bug cooperates and it's due for some time off so let's do just that).
If form holds, those are two absurd cards for a single year, forget about a single month.
The question is, of course, which one is better?
Sure, comparing the two rosters is a bit like picking the hottest lingerie model or your favorite movie, but I've not heard too many complaints about either of those exercises (from men), so let's play by the same rules.
One administrative note. The individual fights are rated against their counterparts.
That is, the best fights on each card get paired up, then the second-best, third-best, etc. with each scrap graded on the stakes, the names participating, the potential for mayhem and all those other subjective elements that make the ensuing debate and name-calling so much fun.
On with it.
Josh Grispi vs. Matt Grice
Nick Catone vs. Aaron Simpson
Joey Beltran vs. Stipe Miocic
Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski
Tim Credeur vs. Brad Tavares
Danny Downes vs. Ramsey Nijem
The preliminary cards are always tough to get a firm handle on because they feature the lesser known, more unpredictable quantities. Basically, the Facebook cards are free-for-alls—there are favorites for each bout, but no outcome would qualify as a real shocker down in these murkier waters.
For example, Joey "The Mexicutioner" Beltran is probably favored over his opponent, newcomer Stipe Miocic, because Beltran has established one-punch stopping power in addition to a granite chin.
Meanwhile, Miocic has established he is an undefeated American with a strong wrestling background making his promotional debut.
Does it mean the Mexicutioner wins in a romp? Of course not, but it's tough to get a lot of sizzle going when one of the participants is a mystery man.
Consequently, I'm ranking the Facebook prelims from both UFC 136 and UFC 137 based on name recognition and little else. By those metrics, it's UFC 136 in a walk.
Beltran has minor buzz around him after his TKO of Aaron Rosa came on the heels of stout performances in losses to Pat Barry and Matt Mitrione. Josh "The Fluke" Grispi was set to face featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo until fate and a couple losses intervened.
Aaron "A-Train" Simpson and Nick "The Jersey Devil" Catone will meet in a head-on collision of fighters enjoying two-fight win streaks.
UFC 137 can only muster a few ex-Ultimate Fighters and Tyson Griffin, who's lost three of his last four contests. I'm already trying to stifle a yawn.
EDGE: UFC 136
Anthony Pettis vs. Jeremy Stephens
Dave Herman vs. Mike Russow
George Roop vs. Hatsu Hioki
Brandon Vera vs. Eliot Marshall
This comparison is a little closer, but it's still an easy choice.
UFC 136 offers two compelling angles with Anthony "Showtime" Pettis and Dave "Pee-Wee"Herman breaking a sweat.
Pettis is still a top contender in the lightweight division despite his recent loss to Clay Guida and Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens is a grizzled UFC veteran who is no easy out. Lil' Heathen should be a good test for Showtime and a win would re-establish Pettis near the top of the 155-pound pecking order.
Meanwhile, Pee-Wee Herman exploded onto the scene at UFC 131 in his promotional debut. The 26-year-old with only two losses on his record obliterated Jan Olav Einemo for Fight of the Night honors and immediately became a blip to monitor on the radar.
Mike Russow is marching to a similar tune. He's only tasted defeat once in his career (at the hands of Sergei Kharitonov) and rides in on the back of a 10-fight win streak including his first three bouts in the UFC.
In reality, Herman/Russow might even make the main card because it's a legitimately exciting matchup, and everyone loves the heavyweights.
By contrast, UFC 137 offers up two guys brought back from the abyss of exile (Brandon "The Truth" Vera vs. Eliot "The Fire" Marshall) and what might be a superlative tussle between George Roop and Hatsu "Shooto no Ko" Hioki.
I say "might' because Hioki is making his UFC debut as the presumptive No. 1 challenger to Jose Aldo's 145-pound belt.
Unfortunately, we've seen highly touted Japanese athletes come to the States and fizzle rather than sizzle so I'm not buying into the hype quite yet.
Regardless of where you stand on Hioki, his is but one tantalizing fight, and UFC 136 offers up two.
EDGE: UFC 136
UFC 136's Wikipedia page says that Demian Maia vs. Jorge "Sandman" Santiago will be a preliminary card bout, but that only means this is a teachable moment—you can't always trust Wikipedia.
In all seriousness, I'm not sure how Maia/Santiago could be on the prelims unless Dave "Pee-Wee" Herman vs. Mike Russow supplants it on the main card.
That's certainly a possibility given the the two heavyweights only have three losses between them, and everyone loves the 265-pounders, but I'd still say Maia/Santiago is the better brawl so I'm using it.
Maia showed much improved striking in his loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 131 and a few at cageside thought he deserved the unanimous decision because of it. Alas, that's not the way the judges saw it.
Consequently, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace will enter the Octagon hungry for a victory.
The Sandman is in even worse shape because Brian Stann obliterated the Brazilian at UFC 130 in the latter's UFC debut. If he can't put together a better showing, he might catch the UFC axe after a mere two bouts. That's not the way the former Strikeforce star wants his foray into the big leagues to end.
Two supremely motivated competitors often amounts to an exciting, desperate struggle for survival.
Of course, it doesn't really matter whether Maia/Santiago or Herman/Russow gets the nod for comparison's sake. The Houston card just can't compete with the burner offered up by UFC 137.
Lightweight contender Dennis "The Menace" Siver has been a man on a mission of late, turning back stout (yup) challenges from the likes of Matt Wiman, George Sotiropoulos, Andre Winner and Spencer Fisher.
First Sots and then "Handsome" Matt Wiman were supposed to be the German striker's downfall, but neither could get the job done. His pace, grit and accurate arsenal were too much to overcome, so now it's Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout's chance.
The Canadian is riding the momentum of perhaps a career-best performance inside the Octagon at UFC 131 against Yves St. Edwards. Stout came in and simply destroyed a savvy veteran in Edwards, which is no easy task.
The 27-year-old looks to continue his charge up the 155-pound ladder against arguably his biggest challenge thus far.
Both lightweight snipers set a dizzying pace and are after one thing once that cage door closes: a finish. The action should be fast, furious, explosive and unrelenting.
EDGE: UFC 137
Here's another interesting head-to-head matchup as far as both the men involved in the bouts and the bouts themselves. Really, they're fights of similar context, though the similarities end when considering the size of the warrior pairs.
UFC 136 offers up Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard taking on a stiff challenge (at least for a round or two) from Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon.
Guillard comes into the match up as a holy terror on a holy tear. The staggeringly young athlete—dude is still only 28 despite a career that's already seen 40 contests—enters the cage on a five-fight win streak and has been a dominant force at 155 pounds ever since switching to Greg Jackson's stable.
Shane Roller walked into a massacre when he faced the Young Assassin at UFC 132 as did Evan Dunham before him.
Many see a title shot in his imminent future should Guillard emerge with a sixth consecutive victory.
On the other hand, J-Lau is a well known commodity and comes in off a win, but he's been decidedly more erratic in recent memory. He's been able to run right through lesser competition, but the 27-year-old has struggled badly with that next level of opponent (George Sotiropoulos, Sam Stout and Kenny Florian).
Toss that track record on top of his reputation for gassing too early, and you can see why Lauzon won't be the odds-on darling when the fireworks roll around.
Meanwhile, UFC 137 pits athletes with many parallels to Guillard and Lauzon against each other when (and if) Roy "Big Country" Nelson squares off with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.
Big Country's upward trajectory isn't so scarily vertical as the Young Assassin's after consecutive losses to Frank Mir and Junior dos Santos, but he's still a serious player at 265 pounds.
Nelson needs to win badly, but the best gut in the heavyweight division would reestablish himself as a top contender if he gets it. He's the more versatile entrant in this bout and he showed a granite chin against JDS.
Always a nice toy to have tucked away when facing Cro Cop.
Filipovic is legend in the sport closer (something Lauzon can't quite say), but he's much closer to being pushed out the organizational door than J-Lau.
The Croatian superstar is only 4-5 since entering the UFC, and the losses have been far more troubling than the wins have been impressive. Another defeat might herald the end of his storied MMA run.
Or at least an indefinite exile from the sport's premier organization.
With each tussle throwing a big(-ish) name on the fade against a legitimate contender, the advantage boils down to which fight will be more competitive.
It says here that's Nelson vs. Cro Cop.
EDGE: UFC 137
This is an easy call because of the idiocy that continues to spew from Chael Sonnen's mouth.
Sonnen is a fraud by any definition of the word, as both his stance on Brazilians—against whom he has one unanimous decision victory and three submission losses—and his conviction for money-laundering to conceal wire fraud prove.
He's been smart enough not to insult his opponent at UFC 136, Brian "All-American" Stann, a former Marine who served in Iraq and earned a Silver Star in the process.
So at least Sonnen recognizes a real American hero and treats him accordingly. Give him that much credit but not too much more.
Because the rest of his antics is nonsense and most fight fans want to see Stann demolish the mouthy champion-in-his-own-mind.
What's more, there's an excellent chance the fans will get precisely what they want.
It is highly unlikely that the All-American will allow Sonnen to dictate the action. Whether it be standing or on the ground, it looks like the rising star Stann will have a substantial strength advantage and his technique is evolving almost in front of our eyes.
We know neither mental nor physical durability will be a vulnerability for Stann, so a W for him seems more a matter of "when" as opposed to "if."
UFC 137's equivalent bout would be the heavyweight strikefest between Cheick Kongo and Matt "Meathead" Mitrione. Kongo is fresh off his highlight-reel Knockout of the Night against Pat Barry while Meathead is a perfect 5-0 in his professional career with four of five victories ending in knockouts.
Kongo is a notoriously brutal striker whose fought some of the best 265-pounders in the world so he's an enormous step up for Mitrione. Furthermore, he's showed some improvement defending against takedowns and getting back up to his feet after the fact. But that's a pretty modest accolade.
On the contrary, Matt has looked phenomenal on his feet. The former Purdue football star has shown a varied arsenal of strikes while demonstrating a fair ground game his last time out. The big fella has been improving significantly from bout to bout and, if that pattern holds, the African warrior could be in serious trouble.
Nevertheless, Stann vs. Sonnen is the easy pick here.
EDGE: UFC 136
Pick your poison—it's either a legendary former champion who might be at the start of his decline, or a future legend who is currently strapped and in the early stages of his meteoric rise.
If it's the latter you seek, then UFC 136 is your ticket thanks to the sport's best kept secret: UFC Featherweight Champion Jose "Junior" Aldo and his 12-fight win streak.
Aldo's organizational debut didn't go according to script at UFC 129, even though he managed the unanimous decision victory. A game Mark Hominick took some of the Brazilian's best licks and kept on coming, but rumor has it that Aldo wasn't at the top of his game due to a problematic weight cut.
Additionally, "The Machine" clearly drew energy from his hometown fans to survive the five-round blitzkrieg from Aldo so don't fall prey to the casual fan's mistake.
Junior Aldo has the talent and motivation to join the pantheon of MMA's greatest fighters ever. I expect him to begin making that case to the UFC crowd (he's already sold those of us who are familiar with his WEC work) against Kenny "KenFlo" Florian in Houston.
KenFlo is tough as nails and looked excellent at 145 pounds against Diego Nunes at UFC 131 so he poses a sincere threat to Junior's title. But that could be a bad thing for Florian; expect that specter of danger to bring out the best in the champion and expect Aldo to put on a show.
If you prefer the almost mythical icon taking on an onrushing challenger, then B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn's date with Carlos "The Natural Born Killer" Condit at UFC 137 is your pick.
Penn's foray back into the welterweight division hit a pothole during his draw with Jon Fitch at UFC 127 and he looks to smooth out the road against the Natural Born Killer. Many observers expected a rematch with Fitch, but fight fans get this curveball instead and few are complaining (Fitch being an exception).
Baby J is a demigod on the MMA landscape, so he always ratchets up the interest level.
Sprinkle in Condit—one of the most well-rounded gladiators in the sport and also one of its most lethal strikers—and you have the recipe for an epic showdown.
Penn's style is a crowd-pleaser as long as he's got gas in the tank while Condit has received two Knockout of the Night bonuses and a Fight of the Night slap on the back in his last three contests. Plus, there's a decent chance the winner will move to the head of the contenders' line.
So there's plenty on the line and a collision of styles that should conspire to be a treat for the fans.
But Aldo vs. Florian can say the same things and it's a title fight.
I'm a die-hard Prodigy fan, but even a B.J. Penn sighting in an outstanding matchup can't out-juice a legitimate championship bout.
EDGE: UFC 136
Here is the ultimate in "pick your favorite shade of pretty" futility—do you prefer the scrap for the lightweight title or the one for the welterweight belt?
UFC 136 offers up the lightweight title collision between the defending champ, Frankie "The Answer" Edgar and No. 1 challenger, Gray "The Bully" Maynard. As most in the audience know, this is the third meeting between these two 155-pounders.
The undefeated Bully owns a unanimous decision over the Answer and everyone remembers the epic draw (if such a thing is possible) from UFC 125. So while the bout isn't a rubber match, it does get bonus points for being a trilogy-maker.
Additionally, the 155-pound division has become a white-water feeding frenzy while these two have tried unsuccessfully to sort out their differences.
In other words, the outcome is highly anticipated both for what's at stake personally for the two warriors, but also because it breaks what has become a logjam atop the lightweight pecking order.
What's more, the actual content should be outstanding if the prior two bouts are any indication. Both dynamos set and keep a dizzying pace, and while Edgar has an evident speed/quickness edge, the power sides definitively with the Bully.
Make no mistake, these two will do the lightweight reputation for frenetic action with no quit.
As far as the 170-pounders are concerned, you have Georges "Rush" St-Pierre putting his nine-fight winning streak on the line while going for his seventh consecutive title defense at UFC 137.
Standing in his way is arguably the stiffest challenge to GSP's championship legacy that the French-Canadian has encountered since B.J. Penn at UFC 94, one Nick Diaz.
Many observers consider Diaz' boxing to be amongst the best in the sport, if not the absolute pinnacle. Furthermore, his grappling prowess is beyond reproach, though his well-documented vulnerability to wrestlers remains a problem when facing a practitioner of the discipline the caliber of Rush.
If the Stockton native has learned how to more effectively deal with strong wrestlers, he might have the kryptonite that's eluded previous impostors to GSP's title.
Of course, that's been the party line for each of St-Pierre's title defenses—if, if, if, if...
And in each case, none of the ifs materialized in the face of Rush's withering assault and little-to-no-risk strategy.
The champ's relentlessly safe approach to the fight game doesn't always put a smile on the arena's lips or a cheer on its tongue, but it flat out wins fights. His masterful ground attack has always been a bear to deal with and he's evolving stand-up game is becoming a real weapon.
In other words, even an exquisite performance from Nick Diaz might not be enough.
That's not an easy burner to dethrone and not even the third installment of Edgar/Maynard can do it.
EDGE: UFC 137
These two cards are so stuffed with goodies that even arriving at the final verdict is no simple task.
You might think it's as easy as tallying up all the head-to-head matches, and that makes sense on the surface.
UFC 136 gets the edge for both the Facebook and Spike TV prelims as well as two of the five bouts most likely to be on the main card. On the other hand, UFC 137 gets the edge on three of the five main-card bouts, including the main event between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz for the welterweight strap.
Consequently, UFC 136 wins the day by a score of four to three, but UFC 137 appears to have the more attractive main card and features the must-see-iest tussle.
So UFC 136 is stronger start to finish while UFC 137 more robust where the fans will be most invested.
Wonderful, but who wins?
For my money, it's UFC 137.
The main card is better and even the two bouts that lost their head-to-head engagements (Penn/Condit and Mitrione/Kongo) should be seismic. The prelims look a tad vanilla, but looks can be especially deceiving on the undercard.
In reality, you can't go wrong with either event.
Which means the UFC and MMA fans are the real winners.