UFC 141: Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem and Ranking Every Main-Card Fight
In less than two weeks, the mixed martial arts juggernaut in the UFC will venture back to the the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
There, a heavyweight collision will headline the UFC 141 pay-per-view event, as former champions Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem step into the cage opposite of one another in order to determine the next No. 1 contender to the title.
However, along with this blockbuster battle, several other fights will be gracing the main card that hold a certain level of significance when it comes to all around appeal and validity in their respective divisions.
Nam Phan vs. Jim Hettes
In a featherweight battle, Nam Phan will be looking to gain some traction in the talent-laden division while top prospect Jim Hettes will look to procure a signature victory over a well respected veteran.
Phan is recently coming off of a Fight of the Night worthy battle with rival Leonard Garcia, earning the just decision victory over the "Bad Boy," avenging an earlier and controversial defeat to the Greg Jackson product, whilst snapping a two-fight skid inside the Octagon.
Hettes will be looking to build upon the strength of his UFC debut, which came at the expense of The Ultimate Fighter veteran Alex Caceres, submitting the wily fighter with a second-round rear-naked choke.
The winner will move themselves one step closer towards contender status in the burgeoning 145-pound class, which is currently ruled by UFC champion Jose Aldo.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustaffson
In the light heavyweight class, former title challenger Vladimir Matyushenko looks to go 3-0 in his last three outings inside the Octagon as he takes on budding contender Alexander Gustaffson.
The former IFL champion recently cinched his most impressive performance in the UFC when he took on fellow wrestling ace Jason Brilz. Though the bout was thought to be an uneventful grappling affair, Matyushenko turned the tide of the bout early by knocking out Brilz in just 20 seconds of action.
Gustaffson has been rising up the ranks fast. After opening up his UFC career with a 1-1 record, the Swede has since rattled off a three-fight win streak, culminating in a dominant TKO victory over former contender Matt Hamill, sending the TUF veteran into retirement this August.
In a division that is in constant need of viable challengers, the winner here will no doubt move themselves atop the list of would-be contenders in the 205-pound class.
Jon Fitch vs. Johnny Hendricks
In the welterweight division, perennial contender Jon Fitch will look to state his claim as the next contender at 170-pounds when he meets with top prospect Johnny Hendricks.
After failing to claim the title in his battle with Georges St-Pierre in August of 2008, Fitch has since gone undefeated in his last six bouts. In his last outing, Fitch went to a contentious majority draw opposite of former two-time world champion B.J. Penn.
Hendricks, meanwhile, has picked up a lot more steam than his injury-ridden opponent in Fitch. The two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion has gone 8-1 under the Zuffa banner and is searching for his third win in a row, looking to build on the strength of his close split-decision victory over Mike Pierce.
Both men are touted wrestlers and this bout will likely be determined by who will be able to dictate the grappling exchanges first.
If the heavy-handed Hendricks can pull off the upset, he would have done what only GSP has been able to do in the UFC, making an immediate impact in the welterweight title picture.
Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone
The front-runner for Fight of the Night, lightweight notables Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone meet in the co-main event of the evening and rightfully so.
Cerrone has looked unstoppable since entering the Octagon after his successful stint in the WEC. "Cowboy" has gone 4-0 in the organization, recently besting former top contender Dennis Siver.
The touted kickboxer was rocked early by a Cerrone head kick, which set the tone of the bout from there on out. The Greg Jackson product dropped Siver again with a right hand, before cinching up the rear-naked choke finish in just a little over two minutes.
Diaz made a successful return to the lightweight class when he took on arguably his most prestigious opponent to date in Takanori Gomi, the former Pride 155-pound champion.
Diaz stalked the Japanese heavy hitter early, dropping him with a counter hook. Diaz continued to pepper Gomi with punches in bunch, leaving the veteran little choice but to bring the Stockton native to the canvas, where the Cesar Gracie brown belt locked in a tight armbar in the waning moments of the first round, which yielded the tap-out.
For Cerrone, an impressive win over the tough Diaz will all but guarantee him a shot at the title, while a victory for The Ultimate Fighter Season 5 winner will move him into the upper echelon of the division.
Alistair Overeem vs. Brock Lesnar
In the main event, heavyweight powerhouses Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem engage in a dream matchup, where the winner will face off against Brazilian heavy-hitter Junior dos Santos for the UFC title.
Lesnar is coming off of his second battle with diverticulitis, using invasive surgery in order to lay to the rest the digestive disease that has taken two years away from his professional mixed martial arts career.
The former UFC champion is looking to bounce back from a devastating knockout loss to Cain Velasquez, who finished off the juggernaut wrestler on first-round strikes, dethroning the pay-per-view king from his mantle.
Overeem has become one of the more popular fighters in the sport, making a name for himself overseas with his impressive run both in Dream and K-1, where he claimed the two world titles in mixed martial arts and kickboxing, respectively.
"The Demolition Man" is undefeated in 11 fights, avenging a previous loss to Fabricio Werdum, taking home a hard-fought decision win over the fellow Pride vet this June.
The winner of this pivotal heavyweight affair will be recognized as the next suitable challenger for Dos Santos, who is currently on the mend from a successful knee surgery, stemming from an injury sustained in the lead-up to his battle with Velasquez, whom "Cigano" KO'd this November in just 64 seconds, cinching the belt in the process.