10 MMA Fights You Can't Miss This Summer

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2012

10 MMA Fights You Can't Miss This Summer

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    Summer is almost here.

    Sure, it already feels like it is 147 degrees outside with humidity at 100 percent but summer does not officially begin until June 20th.

    And from June 20th until September 21st, the last day of summer, fans will be treated to a lot of fantastic MMA action from around the globe.

    The UFC will hold nine events all by themselves during the summer schedule. Strikeforce will hold one event in July and a second in August. And of course, Bellator and other promotions will chip in during the three month period.

    Even with the slew of injuries that have been sustained there are an incredible amount of fun fights coming your way. Yes, even at UFC 147.

    Let's take a peak at what is to come and try to keep you indoors in the comfort of your air conditioning and chilled beverages.

Honorable Mentions: 10 Fights You Shouldn't Miss

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    UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida, June 22nd:
    Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas
    Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida

    Hioki showed why he may be the next legitimate contender to the 145-pound title at UFC 144. Lamas is 5-1 in his last six bouts and will be looking to topple the top ranked challenger and put himself in the title hunt.

    Maynard returns for the first time since his knockout loss in the epic trilogy with Frankie Edgar. He will be looking for another big win to keep himself in the title picture. And the same can be said for Guida. Even with the championship implications aside, we know Guida will give the fans a fun and exciting fight on the 22nd.

    UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin II, June 23rd:
    Hacran Dias vs. Yuri Alcantara

    This is a fight that is flying under the radar that more should be focusing on. Yes, it is on the ill-fated UFC 147 card but it very well could be fight of the night. Alcantara is on a 13-fight win streak, three under the Zuffa banner and Dias is bringing in eight consecutive of his own. Look for fireworks to be had in Brazil.

    UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II, July 7th:
    Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia

    Maia's Welterweight debut is definitely intriguing. And his opponent, Kim, is one of the reasons why. This fight may have a slow build as they feel one another out but any and all of the clinch work will be exciting to watch between the two. And should it hit the ground, even more so.

    UFC on FuelTV: Munoz vs. Weidman, July 11th: 
    Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman

    The winner of this fight will be in the mix for the 185-pound gold. Both men bring in great wrestling credentials, but it is where they have elevated their other skills that will determine the winner of the fight. While this may not be the action packed barnburner that some others are, it will still be one you should not miss.

    Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, July 14th:
    Nate Marquardt vs. Tyron Woodley

    Marquardt returns from over a year out of the cage, and Woodley finally gets his shot at the Strikeforce belt. This will be a significant test for Woodley and will give everyone a good idea of where he stands in the grand scheme at Welterweight against a seasoned veteran like Marquardt.

    Invicta FC 2, July 28th:
    Alexis Davis vs. Hitomi Akano
    Sara McMann vs. Shayna Baszler

    Davis vs. Akano, on paper, is one of the more fun ground wars waiting to happen. Do not miss it.

    McMann has been eyed by fans and media alike as the biggest threat to Ronda Rousey's title. However, she has shown some signs of weakness on the ground in previous fights. Baszler will undoubtedly test her when McMann puts her on her back. This fight will be a great way to judge just how far off McMann is when it comes to looking down the line toward the potential fight between the Olympians.

    UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera, August 4th:
    Joe Lauzon vs. Terry Etim
    Mike Swick vs. DaMarques Johnson

    Lauzon and Etim both suffered brutal knockouts earlier this year, but that will not prevent them from having an exhilarating fight in August.

    The return of Swick is upon us. After a two year battle outside of the cage he is finally ready to return against Johnson. Both men love to throw down inside the cage, and that is what should be expected. It will just be nice seeing Swick enter the cage door once again.

10. Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch

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    When: UFC 149, July 21st

    Lombard was set to make his long awaited UFC debut in the main event of the August FOX card, but an injury to Brian Stann changed that. Then Michael Bisping was forced off of the UFC 149 card. Now, we have an equally exciting bout between two bruisers in the Middleweight division.

    Boetsch is coming off of his impressive come from behind victory over Yushin Okami at UFC 144. Despite taking a beating for two rounds against the former title contender he came out in the third and stopped him. Now he'll welcome the feared Cuban to the Octagon.

    With a potential title shot on the line Lombard has a lot to lose in this fight. Meanwhile, Boetsch has everything to gain.

    Two of the strongest in the division will square off and put on one hell of a fight in July.

9. Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin

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    When: UFC 147, June 23rd

    Last week I told you that UFC 147 was still worth ordering on PPV. I believe that, and this fight is a major reason why.

    Their fight at UFC 99 was fun. Plain and simple. And I have no reason to believe it will not be just as much fun this go around.

    Silva vs. Franklin II is definitely more competitive and interesting than what was previously planned with Vitor Belfort.

    Both Silva and Franklin leave it all in the cage in every fight they take. They did at UFC 99 and they will at UFC 147. The two former champions will try and give the fans bang for their buck as they go toe-to-toe and swing for the fences. If you are a fight fan then you will want to watch this second installment.

8. Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao

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    When: UFC 149, July 21st

    First, Barao was slated to fight Menjivar and Faber was to challenge Cruz for the belt at UFC 148. Then the injury bug hit Cruz. Joe Silva decided that Barao was the next in line and should move up on the card to fight for the Interim Bantamweight Championship.

    Then the injury bug hit Jose Aldo. Now the fight between Barao and Faber will main event at UFC 149 in Calgary. Here is to hoping the injury bug stays away from this fight now.

    Barao lost in his MMA debut back in 2005. Since that point he has went on a 28-0 (1 NC) streak. Faber is 3-1 at Bantamweight with the lone loss coming to Cruz back at UFC 132.

    Bantamweights deliver action. Period. And I am not sure when the last time Faber disappointed in a fight. Add in the 25-year-old Nova União product and we are all in for a treat in the night's main event.

    Fans who do not order the pay-per-views headlined by the lighter weights are missing out. Have your popcorn ready.

7. Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton

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    If you are not giddy for this fight please try to explain to me how not. Someone needs to hose me down.

    Menjivar vs. Easton will be free on the preliminary card of UFC 148 so you have no excuse to miss this fight. None.

    Both men are looking to put themselves into Bantamweight title contention with a victory, but when the referee tells them to fight that will not be going through their minds. Knocking the other out will be. This fight is going to be awesome.

    The fight will be fast-paced from the opening seconds until it ends. Do not miss it.

6. Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire

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    When: Bellator FC, August 24th

    The first non-UFC fight makes the list at No. 6.

    Curran (17-4) will defend his Bellator Featherweight Championship against the returning Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (17-1).

    At Bellator 60 Curran dominated previous champion Joe Warren in the fight and finished him off with a devastating flurry in the third round. The performance made other featherweights, in all organizations, take notice. Now he will meet the hard-hitting challenger in August.

    Freire's lone loss was a split decision to Warren in 2010. He brings in a solid ground game and KO power to the cage. Returning to the cage after a year away, one does have to wonder how a five round fight will effect him if the fight goes into the championship rounds.

    The fight features two of the best featherweights outside of the UFC who will put on a show on free television later this summer.

5. Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Kennedy

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    When: Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy, July 14th

    The main event to an all-around solid card will be the night's best fight. And one a long time in the making.

    Strikeforce has teased this matchup for quite some time and now that Rockhold is healthy, Kennedy is set to challenge for the belt.

    The champion, Rockhold, is on an eight-fight win streak after taking out Keith Jardine in his first title defense earlier this year. Kennedy has won six of his last seven and two straight.

    Kennedy and Rockhold both come from elite camps, Jackson's and AKA respectively, and are exciting fighters. There is little question as to why fans have wanted to watch the two face off inside the Strikeforce cage.

    Only five of their combined 27 fights have went the distance. Both men have the killer instinct. Two of those five came against Ronaldo Souza. A fight in which Rockhold won and Kennedy lost.

    Both men have been talked about in terms of top ten rankings and the winner will surely be seen as one of the division's elite. We will find out who that is in a month's time.

4. Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman

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    When: Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman, August 18th

    Ronda Rousey is alone at the top of the women's MMA world. Sarah Kaufman is looking to show that she is not as far ahead of the rest of the pack.

    Rousey may have talked the talk, but she walked the walk by ripping the title from Miesha Tate in March. Now, she'll face the top contender in the division whom she leap frogged for the title shot.

    While Kaufman may be overlooked in this fight she should not be counted out. Kaufman is one of the division's strongest women. She has good submission defense, but more importantly good takedown defense. Is that enough to stop the Olympic level Judoka? We'll find out in August.

    If Kaufman can keep the fight on the feet her odds of winning go up substantially. We still have yet to see Rousey in the striking department for any significant period of time, and that is where Kaufman excels. Her performance will go a long way to show that the women's division is not quite as shallow as many believe.

3. Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar

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    When: UFC 50, August 11th

    Entering at No. 3 is the rematch of one of the year's best fights to date: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson.

    The former champion, Edgar, will try to erase the result from UFC 144 and reclaim what he feels is his. Henderson, on the other hand, seeks to prove his No. 1 ranking by dispatching of Edgar.

    Their first battle was five rounds of action, and this fight will probably be more of the same.

    After coming over from the WEC, Henderson has shocked a lot of people by his quick ascent up the ladder and capturing the championship. The WEC lightweight contingent has proven their value and shown they are every bit as good, if not better, than the UFC stable.

    It will be interesting to watch the change of gameplans from their first fight, and who is able to adapt better in the high altitude of Denver. When the two combatants meet again make sure to hit purchase on your remote control.

2. Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson

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    When: UFC 151, September 1st

    Another title fight, another legend. Such is the life of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.

    Standing across the Octagon from Jones will be one of the most decorated MMA athletes of all time, Dan Henderson. A victory would cement his legacy as quite possibly the greatest of all time.

    But Jones is looking to send another great packing. He has been nothing short of sensational since joining Jackson's shortly after his UFC debut. Putting away elite fighters with relative ease.

    Henderson's durability, wrestling credentials and brutal KO power make him one of the most interesting matchups for the young champion. He will be hard to put away and should make the fight the toughest to date for Jones.

    If Jones takes the victory he will leave the world wondering who is next. Shogun, Rampage, Machida, Evans and Henderson would easily place Jones as the greatest 205-pound champion in company history and only one defense away from tying Tito Ortiz's record. It is an almost unthinkable feat for an 18 month period.

    One way or another, history will be made.

1. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

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    When: UFC 148, July 7th

    This is a no-brainer. It is the biggest re-match in MMA history.

    We all know the story. Over four rounds of unsuspected dominance from the challenger. A remarkable out-of-nowhere submission from the champion. Continuous trash talk. Injury speculation. TRT discussions. Stadium. No stadium. Finally, the re-match is set and ready to go down.

    Can Chael Sonnen do it again, but finish the job this time? Will Anderson Silva perform up to his standards this go around? Who is the best Middleweight in the world?

    Adrenaline rushes come just from thinking about fight. Goosebumps form from the amazing 148 television spots that the UFC has been running. A nervous anticipation will run through the sea of bodies inside the arena, and those at home watching, as the time nears for the fight to take place.

    This is the singular fight that every MMA fan will be watching. It is the fight that will intrigue those wondering about MMA into purchasing the PPV. It is not don't miss, it is can't miss.

    It is the fight. July 7th.