By now, every slightly more than casual UFC fan knows that each of the seven UFC champions will defend their titles between now and Thanksgiving. Those are the kinds of fights that every fight fan knows about. The kinds of fights that people pay $50 to order the PPVs to watch.
The fights on this list are the fights that not everybody is talking about that they shouldn't look at as "just a throw-in fight to fill out a fight card." The fights on this list are the bouts people should not forget about.
This lightweight fight will be on the UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle card this coming Sunday.
Cerrone has been on a roll ever since losing two WEC Lightweight Championship fights to Ben Henderson between October of 2009 and April of 2010. He's won 4 in a row, twice in the WEC and twice in the UFC, winning Two Fight of the Night bonuses during that streak.
Oliveira is on somewhat of an opposite path. He's 0-1 with a No Contest in his last two fights. His win against Nik Lentz in late June was changed to a No Contest after an illegal knee thrown during the fight went un-seen by the referee and led to Oliveira's submission victory. Before that, Oliveira suffered the 1st loss of his MMA career at the hands of a Jim Miller kneebar at UFC 124 last December.
Oliveira, who is 21 years old, has stated he wants to be the youngest champion in UFC history. Jon Jones currently holds that mark at 23 years, 243 days. For Oliveira to break that mark, he needs to win the Lightweight Championship on or before June 17th, 2013. Oliveira is currently outside the Top 10 Lightweights in the world, and is a minimum of 3-4 fights away from a title shot. To break Jones' record, Oliveira could not afford to suffer another loss before his would-be title fight.
Edson Barboza is looking to continue his momentum stemming from the spinning back he landed on Anthony Njokuani at UFC 128 (seen at the 2:58 mark in the video).
Barboza is undefeated, 8-0 in his MMA career, 2-0 in the UFC, coming off a Fight of the Night performance against Njokuani in March.
Pearson, the lightweight winner of "The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9," is 12-4 in his MMA career, 4-1 in the UFC, with his biggest win coming by way of decision over Dennis Siver in March of 2010.
Barboza is considered one of the most exciting prospects in the UFC today, especially at Lightweight. Pearson will be his toughest test to date, and will be his debut on a PPV Main Card. Barboza will be a big test for Pearson, who's looking to post back-to-back wins since his September 2010 loss to Cole Miller.
Yes, I am putting this fight, even though it's a Main Event, on this list. Why? Because I think people will over look any non-title Main Event over the next few months as every championship will be defended between now and Thanksgiving.
Every MMA fan knows who Shields is. Won championships in organizations all over the United States, held a 15 fight win streak that came to end when he lost his Welterweight Championship match to Georges St-Pierre in the Main Event of UFC 129 in April. Shields will now look to rebound from his 1st loss since 2005 against Ellenberger.
Ellenberger is less-known to the casual MMA fan, though he has a career record of 25-5 and has been in the UFC since 2009. Ellenberger is 4-1 in the UFC, and has won his last 4 fights in the octagon, including wins over Mike Pyle and John Howard. His only loss came in his UFC debut back in September of 2009 to now- top contender Carlos Condit.
It will be interesting to see how Shields rebounds from a loss, seeing as that he hasn't experience one in 6 years. For Ellenberger, UFC President Dana White has already mad clear that if Ellenberger wins, he will be offered a fight against Diego Sanchez, Jon Fitch, or a re-match with Condit. But, no pressure or anything...
The former Number One ranked Lightweight in the world will square off with a "TUF" winner looking to save his job at UFC 135.
Gomi is coming off of a submission loss to Clay Guida at UFC 125 on New Year's Day. He's 1-2 in the UFC, with his win coming by way of knockout over Tyson Griffin. His UFC debut resulted in a submission loss to current Featherweight Number One contender Kenny Florian. In fact, of Gomi's 7 career losses, 5 have come by way of submission, something his opponent is no stranger to making opponents doing, though he hasn't done so for a very long time.
Nate Diaz's last win over an opponent still in the UFC was back in September of 2009, when he beat Melvin Guillard. He's lost his last two fights by decision, and will be looking for a win to stave off being fired for at least one more day. His last 2 wins were against Rory Markham and Marcus Davis, and both men are no longer employed with the UFC.
Really just a recap here. Diaz needs a win to avoid being fired, unless he puts on a very good performance. Gomi is looking for a win to remain the littlest bit relevant in a crowded Lightweight division.
This will be Brenneman's first fight since his upset win over Rick Story in his Pennsylvania backyard in June. "The Spaniard" is now 14-2 in his MMA career, 3-1 in the UFC, and looking for a three-fight win streak with a win on October 1st.
"Rumble" is coming off of the biggest victory of his UFC career against former Number One Contender Dan Hardy, who he beat back on March 26th at UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis. Before that, Johnson had not fought since November of 2009, due to a knee injury he suffered while training for a March 2010 fight.
This fight will happen not long after some big welterweight fights, like Shields vs. Ellenberger, as well as Matt Hughes vs. Diego Sanchez, and will happen shortly before the Carlos Condit vs. BJ Penn fight. Each one of those men would be a big name opponent for which ever man wins the fight and continues the climb up the 170 pound ladder.
Guillard has been on an absolute tear, winning 8 of his last 9 fights dating back to March of 2008. During that time, he's beaten Dennis Siver, Jeremy Stephens, and Evan Dunham. However, his last loss came to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, something his opponent on October 8th is.
Joe Lauzon is looking to continue the trend of his last 4 fights, alternating losses and wins. His last 5 fights have resulted in nightly bonuses, winning three Submission of the Nights, and winning two Fight of the Nights, though he lost both of those fights.
Guillard is a little bit higher than Lauzon on the 155 pound ladder, and, should he not have an opponent by then, a fight with rising contender Clay Guida could make some sense. If not Guida, perhaps the loser of the Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard Lightweight Championship fight could make for a very intriguing fight. Lauzon has less to lose, because he's 3-5 fights from a title shot anyway, but at the same time, he has less to gain. This is more Guillard's fight to lose than anything.
Anthony Pettis will be looking to bounce back from his loss to Clay Guida in June, which cost Pettis his shot at the Lightweight Championship. Prior to that fight, Pettis had won his last four fights, all in the WEC, including his win over Ben Henderson, where he debuted the now-famous "Showtime Kick," seen in the attached video.
Stephens is 4-1 in his last 5 fights including two Knockout and one Fight of the Night Bonuses.
Pettis is looking to avoid his 2nd straight loss, and remain 1-2 fights from a title show. This fight may be the biggest of Stephens' MMA career, and a win over Pettis might push him into the Top 10 at 155 pounds.
People may see this fight on this list and laugh, but this fight does mean something.
Cro Cop has lost his last two fights by knockout, after putting on less-than-stellar performances against first, Frank Mir, and then Brendan Schaub. The fight with Mir made many "Worst of 2010" lists.
At this time last year, Roy Nelson was 2-0 in the UFC, and was one win away from being the Number One Heavyweight Contender. Since then he's lost two in a row and been criticized for being out of shape, and for his weight affecting his performance in the ring.
There's a very good chance the loser of this fight will be fired from the UFC. Dana White does not like three-fight losing streaks, especially when the fighters perform the way these guys have as of late. Barring a "Fight of the Night" (HIGHLY unlikely), one of these boys won't be employed come that Monday morning.
Coming off of the 1st knockout of his UFC career, "Hands of Stone" will be looking to knock off on the hottest Lightweights in the UFC as of late.
The best kickboxer at 155 pounds, Dennis Siver has won 8 of his last 9 fights, and 7 of his last 8 in the UFC. His upset win over George Sotiropoulos in Australia at UFC 127 was a big step forward for Siver.
Stout has won 4 of his last 5 fights inside the octagon, posting three Fight of the Night performances and a Knockout of the Night against Yves Edwards at UFC 131 in June, as seen in the attached video (Turn Up the Sound).
Siver needs a win to remain in the Top 10 Lightweights. Like almost every Top 10 155 pounder, one loss in a division as crowded as it is could mean an extra 3-4 fights to get back to being a title contender. A win over a big name like Siver could give Stout reason to fight a "Top 8" guy in his next bout.
Before reading the rest of this, PLEASE play the video, turn up the volume, and just enjoy!
Kongo, with that absolutely amazing knockout, improved his MMA record to 16-6-2, 9-4-1 in the UFC. The knockout of Barry may have been his biggest win since beating Mirko Cro Cop by decision 4 years ago.
For Mitrione, the former NFL player has been nothing short of impressive in all of his 5 fights, going undefeated and winning his last two by T/KO. Kongo will prove, by far to be the toughest test of Mitrione's career.
A win by either men would put them among the Top 10 heavyweights, and perhaps a fight with Shane Carwin would not be out of the question for the winner, provided Carwin does not have a opponent by that time.
The UFC Ring Girls
Every UFC slide show deserves some Ring Girl Action!
Thanks for Reading! Leave a comment and tell your friends!
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/thereitstuff and check out all my Bleacher Report articles at http://bleacherreport.com/users/364640-adam-reiter