UFC: Alistair Overeem vs. Brock Lesnar Tops Fan-Friendly Fights Left in 2011
2011 has seen tremendous fights from Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua to Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard.
An incredible comeback knockout victory for Cheick Kongo against Pat Barry and the emergence of the lighter weight classes that were on display at UFC 132 (with Dominick Cruz defending his bantamweight championship by defeating Urijah Faber) highlighted this past year.
Those are merely a few of the amazing fights that were witnessed this year and December offers a handful of thrilling matchups including Brock Lesnar versus Alistair Overeeem at UFC 141 to close out an incredible 2011 campaign.
TUF 14 Finale: Michael Bisping vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
Whether you cheer him to victory or root against him, Michael Bisping is a talented Top 10 middleweight.
As for Jason "Mayhem" Miller, his first stint in the UFC didn't go according to plan, but he's back in the sport's premier organization and he's bringing a well-rounded skillset.
Bisping (21-3) has consistently fought tough competition with victories over Denis Kang, Jorge Rivera, Yoshihiro Akiyama and Dan Miller.
Mayhem (23-7) is best known for his antics outside the cage with the show "Bully Beatdown" on MTV, but he's a talented submission fighter.
60 percent of Miller's victories have come by submission and he's currently on a two-fight win streak.
In preparation for Saturday night's "TUF 14" finale headliner against Bisping, Miller spent time with Mark Munoz, Krzysztof Soszynski and team at Reign Training Center in California.
Combine the skilled and outspoken middleweight's 18 wins by knockout and 18 by submission, expect an exciting fight from start to finish on Saturday night when they meet on the Spike TV.
UFC 140: Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Igor Pokrajac
Soszynski (26-11-1) hasn't taken part in a boring fight since his organizational debut in 2008.
You'd be hard pressed to find more fan-friendly fights than Soszynski's with Stephan Bonnar at UFC 110 and UFC 116 in which he went 1-1.
He's followed those back-to-back exciting bouts with dominant victories against Goran Reljic and Mike Massenzio.
Unfortunately, knee injuries have sidelined Soszynski and have prevented him from competing at 100 percent. However, if he returns at UFC 140 against Igor Pokrajac anywhere near healthy, it's safe to say you'll witness a thrilling fight.
Pokrajac (23-8) meets "The Polish Experiment" looking to string together his first two-fight win streak in the Octagon.
While Pokrajac has been on the losing end during his time in the UFC (2-3 record since 2009), he favors the striking aspect of the sport which always leads to exciting fights.
Soszynski might switch the script and take the fight to the mat where he should have the advantage, but regardless this is an exciting matchup that is to be shown live and free on Ion TV.
UFC 140: Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung
Mark Hominick (20-9) enters his UFC 140 main card bout against "The Korean Zombie" otherwise known as Chan Sung Jung (11-3) fresh off the biggest fight of his career in which he lost a decision to featherweight king Jose Aldo.
Prior to the championship fight at UFC 129, Hominick had won five consecutive fights with two knockout victories and two wins by submission.
Hominick is a fantastic striker that is certainly looking to display those skills against Sung Jung, who received his nickname for being able to absorb strikes and push forward.
"The Korean Zombie" is best known to Zuffa fans for his fight of the year performance against Leonard Garcia at WEC 48 and his spectacular submission (Twister) victory over Garcia in their rematch at UFC Fight Night 24.
Hominick will have the advantage while the fight remains standing and Sung Jung will favor the ground game as his best opportunity at securing a victory.
Regardless, this fight is a surefire bet to bring excitement to open the UFC 140 pay-per-view broadcast next Saturday night.
UFC 140: Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida (Light-Heavyweight Title)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Jon Jones (14-1) returns for his fourth fight of the year and second title defense in less than three months.
The champion began the year as a young contender and quickly turned into the champ due to a Rashad Evans knee injury which opened the door for Jones.
Jones outclassed Mauricio "Shogun" Rua to become champion and followed with a fourth-round submission victory over former title holder Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 135 this past September.
With an 84-inch reach, Jones throws and lands unorthodox strikes and combined with his wrestling, he's exciting to watch compete.
His challenger in the main event at UFC 140 in Toronto is another former champion in Lyoto Machida.
Machida (17-2) won eight in a row to capture the light heavyweight championship by knocking out Rashad Evans at UFC 98.
His karate style has made him a difficult puzzle to solve and his front kick knockout of Randy Couture at UFC 129 was spectacular.
Machida is arguably the most well-rounded opponent Jones has faced and while that may not translate into a victory, he'll certainly be involved in an entertaining fight with the young phenom.
UFC 141: Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz
Donald Cerrone has won six consecutive fights and four in a row since joining the UFC lightweight division in February.
Cerrone most recently dispatched of Denis Siver at UFC 137 after he dropped the former Top 10 lightweight twice before submitting him in the opening round.
His competition has steadily been more advanced each time out and Cerrone has consistently risen to the challenge.
With a relentless style that features technical muay-thai and jiu-jitsu, Cerrone is all business once the Octagon door closes.
Diaz (14-7) has been with the organization since 2007 and after a stint at welterweight, he returned to lightweight where he submitted former PRIDE champion Takanori Gomi at UFC 135 this past October.
The California based lightweight brings a boxing and jiu-jitsu style to the Octagon and like Cerrone he's relentless inside the Octagon.
Cerrone and Diaz both have momentum on their side coming into their co-main event at UFC 141 in December, so expect fireworks in this fight and don't expect this fight to end by decision.
UFC 141: Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem
A mega-fight in the heavyweight division will close out an amazing year of fights when former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem meet in UFC 141's headliner.
Lesnar (5-2) returns to the Octagon for the first time in 14 months after a second bout with diverticulitis and he'll do so in hopes of defeating Overeem.
After collecting four consecutive victories over Randy Couture, Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, and Heath Herring, Lesnar was defeated by Cain Velasquez.
Whether or not we've witnessed Lesnar's best days remains to be seen, but his freakish strength and wrestling make him an exciting heavyweight to watch fight.
Overeem (35-11, 1 NC) makes his UFC debut against Lesnar and he'll be the most skilled striker Lesnar has faced.
Additionally, Overeem, who was the 2010 K-1 Grand Prix kickboxing champion hasn't lost since 2007 and he's won nine fights by knockout or submission in that time.
UFC 141 and Lesnar makes the third consecutive year that Overeem has fought on New Year's weekend and he's a perfect 2-0 to this point.
This fight comes down to Lesnar's wrestling versus Overeem's striking and ability to prevent his foe's takedown attempts. Regardless, this is a fight that features well over 500 pounds of heavyweights who love to cause pain on their opponents.
For additional information, follow Joshua Carey on Twitter.