UFC 139 is shaping up to be a great card at this point.
Sure, there aren't any huge-drawing fights right now after the Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos fight was switched to the UFC on FOX card, but as a collective, having Urijah Faber, Martin Kampmann and Ryan Bader on the card may generate some buys.
A new headlining bout should be announced in the coming weeks, but for now, here is how the card stacks up.
Brian Bowles (10-1) is looking to get back in the title hunt. The former WEC bantamweight champion is riding a two-fight win streak, and considering his only MMA loss was to current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, he will be looking for redemption.
The only man in his way is former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber (25-5).
Faber is coming off a failed title opportunity against Cruz, though the effort was enough for Faber to get a title-eliminator bout. This could turn into the main event of the evening, but with only six fights announced, the best is likely yet to come.
When comparing the two, both are well-versed on the ground and we could be in for a Brazilian jiu-jitsu war.
As far as someone getting the finish, it would seem likely that Bowles could squeak in a quick guillotine choke, however, it would take more than that to make Faber tap (something he has never done in his MMA career).
Prediction: Faber over Bowles via unanimous decision
Tom Lawlor (7-3-1 NC) has been on an up-and-down slope as of late. The Season 8 TUF alumni may show signs of cage-rust after not fighting in over a year after his win over former middleweight title challenger Patrick Cote at UFC 121.
That sounds like good news for his opponent, the unbeaten, former NCAA All-American wrestler Chris Weidman (6-0).
Weidman is coming off a guillotine choke victory over Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 131 and could be another step closer to a top 10 ranking in the middleweight division.
Weidman currently trains with former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, and if Weidman gets his way and avoids Lawlor's boxing, this could be another fight that is decided on the ground.
Prediction: Weidman over Lawlor via second-round submission
Rafael dos Anjos (15-5) has won four out of his last five bouts and is coming off a spectacular knockout victory over George Sotiropoulos at UFC 132.
He will be in tough fight with UFC veteran Gleison Tibau (23-7).
Tibau is regarded as one of the larger lightweight competitors, so he will be more difficult to get down. Dos Anjos has never been submitted in his MMA career (unless you count his loss to Clay Guida due to jaw injury), and considering how well he did in his last fight, he will definitely be bringing momentum as he looks for another knockout victim.
That will be a task-and-a-half, considering Tibau hasn't been knocked out since his UFC debut in November 2006 against welterweight title challenger Nick Diaz.
Prediction: Tibau over dos Anjos via unanimous decision
The time is now for Ryan Bader (12-2). He has lost two straight fights, including one against Tito Ortiz, where he came in as a heavy favourite to knock off the former light heavyweight kingpin.
Bader needs a win to stay relevant in the light heavyweight division and a good start is against Jason Brilz (18-4-1).
Brilz is another fighter looking to get back in the win column after dropping two straight fights, including three of his last four.
Bader is a little bigger and loves to throw bombs. The TUF 8 winner may be more willing to keep this fight off the ground, considering his last two losses have been by submission and Brilz can do some damage on the ground.
Brilz has nine MMA wins via submission and if Bader can help it, this fight will end fast.
Prediction: Bader over Brilz via first-round KO
Stephan Bonnar (13-7) hasn't fought since November 2010 but looks to be returning to the form of the first Forrest Griffin fight a number of years ago.
He will go up against another TUF 8 alumnus in Kyle Kingsbury (11-2-1 NC).
Kingsbury has been on a mission since leaving the house. After losing to Tom Lawlor at the TUF 8 finale, he has fired off four straight wins, with two of those fights receiving "Fight of the Night" honours.
This fight will do plenty for both men. For Bonnar, it will prove that he still belongs in the UFC. For Kingsbury, it will give UFC management a real good look in terms of putting him in fights with the upper-echelon of talent in the 205 division.
If Bonnar loses this fight, he can expect to see more preliminary card bouts in his future; a win can get him back on track, if he stays healthy.
The brawling, in-your-face fighting style of Bonnar will clash well with Kingsbury's wrestling. This could turn out to be an exciting fight and has the potential to end early, but don't count on it.
Prediction: Kingsbury over Bonnar via split decision
Martin Kampmann (17-5) hasn't had the greatest luck as of late. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and has been on the verge of receiving a title shot for a couple years now.
Originally, Kampmann was to fight Mike Swick in 2009 for a title shot against GSP. Swick had to pull out due to injury and was replaced by Paul Daley. The fight was no longer a title eliminator, but Kampmann lost anyway.
Fast forward a year, and Kampmann is in another title eliminator bout, against Jake Shields. Shields won a close fight and went on to face GSP in Toronto at UFC 129.
Kampmann's last fight against Diego Sanchez was exciting, but again, Kampmann lost.
Now, he is at a crossroads on the welterweight ladder and the only way up is against Rick Story (13-4).
Story is coming off a loss to Charlie Brenneman in June, but has otherwise shown title potential with his previous six-fight win streak.
The fight with Brenneman can be excused, considering it was a late replacement made a day before the fight, so Story still should have some momentum going into this bout.
With all that is going on in the UFC welterweight division, it's not a stretch to say that the winner of this fight could go on to face the champion at some point in 2012.
Kampmann needs the win to stay in the title picture and Story needs the win to prove the Brenneman loss was just a hiccup.
Prediction: Kampmann over Story via split decision
Overall, UFC 139 is shaping up to be a decent card. It might not have a title bout at this point in time, but even if it doesn't, throw a couple more big names on and this card will be enjoyable for many UFC fans.
What do you think?