Five under-the-radar bouts to pay attention to
We’ve got some big fights coming up during the rest of 2011. No doubt about that. Big-name clashes like Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua, Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem should have fans of the sport excited and ready to shell out some cash.
But underneath those marquee bouts, we’ve got plenty of exciting and important fights. They aren’t the fights that will sell the majority of viewers on the pay per view, but they’re important all the same.
Let’s take a look at five UFC bouts that you should be pumped for during the rest of 2011.
Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida (UFC on Fox 1)
I realize that the heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos is the real main event of UFC on Fox 1, but I think I’m more excited about this fight.
It creates a legitimate number one contender out of the convoluted pool of top lightweights residing in the UFC, with the winner going on to face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard. It’s an interesting stylistic matchup, too. Guida’s bread and butter is his ability to take opponents to the mat and hold them there; Henderson’s takedown defense is the stuff of legend, and his ability to get up off the canvas is without equal in his division. Both guys also have great hair.
It’s the perfect recipe for an amazing and meaningful fight.
Anthony Pettis vs. Jeremy Stephens (UFC 136)
Pettis was on top of the world at the close of 2010, but things haven’t quite gone his way this year. He was scheduled to get a title shot in May, but the rematch between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard took precedent. His decision to take another fight against Clay Guida instead of waiting on the sidelines proved to be a bad decision.
Pettis now gets the chance to redeem himself against Jeremy Stephens, who goes into the fight riding a 2-fight win streak. Stephens is a powerful and reckless striker, which should prove to be an interesting matchup with Pettis and his unorthodox skill set.
Dennis Siver vs. Donald Cerrone (UFC 137)
Donald Cerrone just loves to fight. He’s been the most active and visible of the former WEC lightweights who are now in the UFC; he’s already got three fights (and three wins) in 2011. He’s displayed drastic improvement each time he steps into the cage and is surging towards an unlikely period of title contention. He has to get past Siver first, though, and that’s not going to be an easy task.
Both fighters are known for their leg kicks, but the lethal German striker will have the edge in the technique department, at least on paper.
That’s the beautiful thing about Cerrone, though. Just when you think he’s overmatched, he proves that he isn’t.
Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story (UFC 139)
What we have here is a story of two fighters who were once considered to be on the outside edge of title contention. Important losses have dimished the impact that Kampmann and Story currently have on the welterweight division, which makes this an extremely important fight. Kampmann has suffered consecutive losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez; a third loss wouldn’t mean he’s getting fired, but it certainly doesn’t help his cause.
Story was on the verge of legitimate title contention when he lost to Charlie Brenneman this summer, and he’ll be looking to get back in the mix with a win here.
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung (UFC 140)
This one is tailor-made for a potential Fight of the Night award. Hominick is a deadly striker with some of the best boxing in the entire sport, while the Korean Zombie – barring a George Roop-style head kick – can take a licking and keep on ticking. This one should be a war.
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