Ranking This Year's Best Summer Sporting Events

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2016

Ranking This Year's Best Summer Sporting Events

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    If you've stepped outside recently, then you know that the warm weather means one thing: Summer is unofficially here.

    And with the sunshine and outdoor activities in full swing, it means that sports fans have the next four months to enjoy some of the best sporting events of the year, with an abundance of sports bringing numerous things for all of us to watch.

    With so many different events to choose from, it can be tough to decide on which ones are the best, which is why I'm ranking the best summer sporting events that we should all prioritize.

UFC 200 (July 9)

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Don't get me wrong, UFC 200 still has plenty of MMA superstars who will be competing in high-profile matches, it's just the event is lacking the most popular athletes like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, causing it to slip on this list.

    While a McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch would have been enough to warrant the price on pay-per-view, had Rousey been capable of returning to fight, too, it would have been the biggest day in UFC history.

    As it stands, though, fans will see a Daniel Cormier-Jon Jones rematch and Miesha Tate defending her belt against Amanda Nunes.

Tour De France (July 2-24)

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    Stephane Mantey/Associated Press

    It's one of the most ruthless physical and emotional quests in all of sports, but, in terms of viewing, the Tour de France can be tricky on fans who want to experience it.

    Not only are the stages broken up over a three-week span, but the time difference between those in the U.S. and the actual races in France are difficult to plan for.

    Still, it's absolutely incredible to see world-class cyclists tackle the many terrains tossed at them, from flat roads to mountainous curves, so the Tour de France has serious intrigue. 

FA Cup Final (May 21)

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Pitting Manchester United up against Crystal Palace, this year's FA Cup should draw interest from even the most casual soccer fan. But, because it's not the Premier League Final or one of Europe's most desired tournaments, it's easy for it to get lost in the shuffle.

    That's not to say it's not worth watching, though, as Man U is looking to add to its 11 FA Cup titles—which, with a win, would put them in a first-place tie for most ever—while the Eagles are on the hunt for their first ever.

PGA Championship (July 28-31)

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    The final major of the PGA season, the PGA Championship is often the "forgotten" one, as it doesn't seem to pull in the attention that previous majors like the Masters, British or U.S. Opens do.

    Still, that doesn't make the thing a total dud, obviously, as each competitor searches for one of the biggest victories of his career—with this year's tournament being played at New Jersey's Baltusrol Golf Club.

    The usual suspects like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and others should be in contention, but could Baltusrol be the place where Tiger Woods might make an appearance in hopes of his 15th major? After registering for the U.S. Open, this might be the realistic major for Tiger to be back on the prowl.

French Open (May 22-June 22)

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    While it's not quite Wimbledon, the French Open at Roland Garros is a unique sports venue that has plenty of esteem and rich tradition.

    Played on the fast clay courts, competitors are forced to adapt their game to the elements, making both the pace of play and overall drama something for fans to always play close attention to.

    With the heat during the tournament always unpredictable, too, the French Open might be the most grueling Grand Slam to win. 

British Open (July 14-17)

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    TED S. WARREN/Associated Press

    Set to tee off at the Royal Troon Golf Club on July 14, this year's British Open will, as always, provide unpredictable weather to go along with a challenging course for golfers to try to master.

    While the British Open is always a pleasure to watch, like the aforementioned Tour de France, the biggest obstacle for fans viewing from their TV in the States is the time change, as many of the rounds are played well before any of us are even awake.

    Still, let's not kid ourselves, every British Open is a masterful display of golf that provides some of golf's best moments.

Champions League Final (May 28)

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    Francisco Seco/Associated Press

    The fixture is set for this year's Champions League Final—and it's an absolute doozy, as La Liga clubs Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid face off in a rematch of 2014's final.

    While Real Madrid finished off that tournament with a title, it's Atletico who many believe will take home the championship this time around, creating a compelling matchup with two of Europe's best club teams.

    Mark your calendars if you enjoy good soccer, because this one should be fun to watch.

U.S. Open Tennis (August 29-September 11)

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    SETH WENIG/Associated Press

    The final Grand Slam of the ATP season is one of the most prolific, with history being made nearly every single year on both the men's and women's side. For that reason, the U.S. Open provides fans something memorable to watch.

    Whether that means the end of a great player's career—as fans saw in 2006 with Andre Agassi—or an upset that no one could ever imagine—like last year's endured by Serena Williams—Flushing Meadows, New York, is how America does tennis for one of the great tourneys in sports.

Copa America (June 3-26)

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    MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

    Featuring 16 different countries including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the United States and Uruguay, among others, this summer's Copa America is sure to bring high drama and excitement for soccer fans from North, South and Central America.

    There are plenty of big names to be watched during the tournament, and with matches being played on U.S. soil, it's an opportunity for the sport of soccer to continue to grow in the States.

Wimbledon (June 27-July 10)

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    There are other Grand Slam tournaments that I mentioned on this list earlier, but the one that means the most and carries the most tradition is Wimbledon, where a victory instantly changes a player's career.

    The All England Club is an exclusive society that few ever get the chance to experience becoming a part of, so this is the tennis tournament that sports fans should be excited for during the summer season.

Kentucky Derby (May 7)

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    The first of the Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby always lives up to its billing as being the fastest two minutes in sports, giving fans watching both in Churchill Downs and at home excitement from start to finish.

    And while last year's will be tough to top after the winner, American Pharoah, went on to become the first horse to earn the Triple Crown since 1978, that doesn't mean 2016's version will lack drama.

    The atmosphere is full of big hats, pastel clothing and plenty of mint juleps, so it's sure to be a good time no matter where fans watch the Derby.

U.S. Open Golf (June 16-19)

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Last year's U.S Open at Chambers Bay gave sports fans one of the most memorable—and crushing—moments in golf, as Dustin Johnson missed a couple of putts that cost him his first major title, leaving Jordan Spieth to win his second straight major of the PGA season.

    And while the greens at Chambers Bay were a topic of conversation during the tourney, this year's course, Oakmont Country Club, might be even more difficult, with Spieth calling it the "hardest test in golf."

    As is the case with all majors, there's plenty of intrigue for this year's U.S. Open, so don't miss out!

Euro 2016 (June 10-July 10)

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    Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    It might not be the World Cup, but Euro 2016 is just about the next-best thing, as some of the biggest names in soccer take the pitch in hopes of proving that their country is the real king of European football.

    As intense and competitive as World Cup matches, everything across the pond stops during Euro 2016, with cafes closing early and town squares being filled with people rooting on their squads.

    It might not include the United States, but it will have names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robert Lewandowski—as well as some potential breakout stars for fans to familiarize themselves with.

Stanley Cup Finals (Early June)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Maybe it's just me—although I don't think I'm the only one—but the Stanley Cup playoffs is the one time where I'll actually sit down and watch as much hockey as my mind can handle.

    While the NHL regular season is great, it's in the postseason where the drama picks up and almost anything is possible, with crazy upsets occurring and the biggest stars doing what they can to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

    Will Alex Ovechkin finally be able to lift the playoff monkey off his back, or will another team end up as champs? The Stanley Cup Finals will give us our answer in about one month.

NBA Finals (June 2-14)

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    There's just so much intrigue this season that it feels like hoops fans are going to get one epic showdown no matter which two teams are left standing in the NBA playoffs.

    The favorites from each conference happen to be the two teams that met in last year's Finals, too, meaning the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavs could renew a yearlong rivalry that could either end with LeBron James finally bringing a title to the city of Cleveland, or Stephen Curry and his Dubs repeating as champs to cap the best season in NBA history.

    Even if it's not the Cavs and Warriors, the NBA Finals is must-see TV.

Summer Olympics (August 5-21)

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    Andy Wong/Associated Press

    Sure, there are plenty of things for athletes and fans to worry about ahead of this year's Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but come on, guys, this is the Olympics we're talking about!

    Coming around once every four years, there's only one place where superstar athletes come together to represent the name across the front of their jerseys and play for pride more than money.

    Whether it's Usain Bolt's quest for gold, NBA stars trying to repeat as Olympic champs or one of the other hundreds of storylines, the world's eyes will be on Rio this summer.

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