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Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious Johnson and 5 Matchups You Don't Want to Miss

Joshua CareySenior Analyst IJanuary 3, 2017

Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious Johnson and 5 Matchups You Don't Want to Miss

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    The second half of the year features high profile title defenses from all seven UFC champions.

    Anderson "The Spider" Silva gets the ball rolling next weekend at UFC 134 when he defends his title against the last man to defeat him in Yushin "Thunder" Okami.

    Jon Jones, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Dominick Cruz, Georges St. Pierre, and Cain Velasquez will all follow suit.

    While all the championship fights are terrific for fans, there are a several matchups that will be spectacular both in and out of the UFC.

Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson

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    Ross Pearson (12-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has been fan favorite since his time on "The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9."

    Pearson looked impressive in wins over Denis Siver, Aaron Riley, and most recently Spencer Fisher.

    In preparation for Barboza, Pearson spent time at Alliance MMA in California under the tutelage of Eric Del Fierro.

    Barboza (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has been spectacular in both of trips to the Octagon.

    He dismantled Mike Lullo at UFC 123 to earn a third round stoppage courtesy of vicious leg kicks.

    A March victory over Anthony Njokuani at UFC 128 featured more of Barboza's excellent striking and set him up for his biggest test to date.

    With that being said, both men prefer to do the majority of their work standing and fans should expect nothing less than fireworks in this matchup.

    Pick:

    Ross Pearson

Alan Belcher vs. Jason MacDonald

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    Alan Belcher (16-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) returns to action from a 16 month layoff due to a severe eye injury that threatened his fighting career.

    However, Belcher made a spectacular recovery and looks to get back to the form that saw him outclass Patrick Cote and Wilson Gouveia.

    Belcher possesses some of the middleweight division's best striking and is 4-1 in his past five trips to the Octagon.

    MacDonald (25-14 MMA, 6-6 UFC) favors the ground game with 19 of wins coming via submission.

    He's been through good times and bad during his tenure in the UFC, but "The Athlete" owns submission victories over Chris Leben, Ed Herman, and most recently Ryan Jensen.

    On paper it appears that Belcher has the edge in striking and MacDonald's skill set favors the fight taking place on the ground.

    Tune in September 17 on Spike TV to see which fighter dictates where the action takes place and who moves one step closer towards the top of the division.

    Pick:

    Alan Belcher

Dominick Cruz vs. Demetrious Johnson

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    Dominick Cruz (18-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will look to use his muscle against the much smaller Johnson at UFC on Versus 6 on October 1.

    Cruz has looked phenomenal during a nine fight win streak and a July victory over rival Urijah Faber cemented his place in the top 10 pound-for-pound rankings.

    Superb footwork, countless combinations, and smooth take downs make Cruz never impossible to defeat at this stage in his career.

    Demetrious Johnson (9-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) made an impressive organizational debut with a dominant three round performance over Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto at UFC 126.

    Three months later, Johnson utilized his wrestling and quickness to pick up a decision victory over former WEC champion Miguel Torres.

    When Cruz defends his championship from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., one thing is certain to happen. Fans will witness a spectacular title fight between two of the sports most dynamic fighters.

    Pick:

    Dominick Cruz

Jeremy Stephens vs. Anthony Pettis

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    Jeremy Stephens (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) comes into the fight on a two fight win streak which includes a dominant victory over Pettis' teammate Danny Downes.

    Stephens controlled and punished Downes en route to an unanimous decision victory in June.

    "Lil' Heathen" is riding a wave of momentum and he appears to be reaching his prime in the sport.

    Anthony Pettis (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is a former WEC champion that skyrocketed in popularity due to a highlight reel head kick against Ben Henderson in December, 2010.

    However, in his UFC debut this past June, Pettis was dominated by relentless lightweight Clay Guida.

    While Pettis was unable to stop Guida, Stephens is a much more desirable matchup for Duke Roufus trained fighter.

    Stephens and Pettis have the formula to be an outstanding matchup for fight fans as both men are primarily strikers.

    Pick:

    Jeremy Stephens

Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler

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    Eddie Alvarez (22-2 MMA, 6-0 Bellator) has defeated every fighter he's faced since entering Bellator.

    He's the organization's lightweight champion and has victories over Pat Curran, Roger Huerta, and Josh Neer.

    Bellator 39 took place this past April and Alvarez outclassed challenger Pat Curran to defend the championship.

    Alvarez hasn't seen defeat in nearly three years and is currently ranked top five in the world.

    Michael Chandler (8-0 MMA, 5-0 Bellator) has been dominant since entering the sport and has finished six of eight opponents.

    A Division I All-American as a collegiate wrestler at the University of Missouri, Chandler has now calls Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas home.

    Under the tutelage of boxing coach Gil Martinez, Chandler's striking is quickly making him a well-rounded fighter, who is a dangerous threat to Alvarez' championship.

    Alvarez and Chandler will meet at Bellator 54 in Atlantic City on October 15 to determine who is the organizations top lightweight.

    Pick:

    Michael Chandler

Sam Stout vs. Dennis Siver

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    Sam Stout (17-6-1 MMA, 6-5 UFC) looked spectacular in knockout victory over Yves Edwards at UFC 131 this past March.

    Stout will now enter UFC 137 looking to extend a two fight win streak and move one step closer towards a top 10 ranking.

    "Hands of Stone" has arguably the division's most technical striking which should make for an entertaining fight against his kickboxing based opponent.

    Dennis Siver (19-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) possesses a devastating spinning back kick that he's used to punish multiple opponents inside the Octagon.

    Siver's won four consecutive fights that include victories over George Sotiropoulos, Matt Wiman, and Spencer Fisher.

    While Siver prefers to keep fights standing, he doesn't mind if they hit the mat as he owns nine victories by submission.

    UFC 137, which takes place from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas will feature two of the lightweight divisions most exciting fighters, who will be looking for their chance to move up the divisional rankings.

    Pick:

    Sam Stout

     

    For additional information, follow Joshua Carey on   Twitter.

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