After Brock Lesnar submitted Shane Carwin at UFC 116, the MMA world fell into a bit of a lull. The UFC was on their version of summer vacation, Strikeforce offered only last weekend’s Challengers Series event, and the real highlights of the remaining days were some overseas adventures from DREAM and Impact FC.
As July winds down and August draws closer, here’s hoping you took the time to get some rest and get those family obligations ticked off the to-do list.
Family camping trips need to be out of the way, your annoying cousin’s third wedding better be in the can, and the in-laws better not be expected any time soon. MMA’s summer vacation about to come to an end, and if you’re a fight fan, you don’t have much time for anything else.
The jam-packed month starts promptly on August 1, as the UFC makes their return to Versus on August 1st. Universally regarded as one of the best prospects in the sport, Jon “Bones” Jones headlines his second consecutive Versus event, this time facing the experienced Vladimir Matyushenko. While some have called for Jones to be fast-tracked to championship contention, the crafty former IFL champion is another legitimate litmus test for the recently-turned 23-year-old.
Six days later at UFC 117, Chael Sonnen has to put up or be shut up, as the verbose veteran from Oregon will finally stand toe-to-toe with Anderson Silva. Will Sonnen deliver on his promise to retire “The Spider” or will the most dominant middleweight champion in UFC history make him eat his words?
The title of next heavyweight championship contender will be handed out in Oakland as well, when TUF 10 winner Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Junior dos Santos meet to determine who will face the victor of the October Brock Lesnar – Cain Velasquez encounter. Throw in the two anticipated welterweight showdowns, a Clay Guida fight and another chance to see Phil Davis in action and you have the makings of a major event.
Bellator returns to action as well, and they kick off their third season on Thursday, August 12. Former Green Bay Packer Herbert “Whisper” Goodman will be looking to survive longer than the six seconds Jay Silva lasted against reigning middleweight champion Hector Lombard, while Japanese submission sensation Megumi Fuji returns to the Bellator cage to kick-off their 125-pound female tournament.
Strikeforce throws their hat in the ring for the first time with a Challengers series event in Arizona on Friday the 13th, scheduled to feature the four-woman, 135-pound title eliminator tournament. No word on whether Jason Voorhees will be in attendance.
Not to be left out of the August offerings, the WEC rolls into Vegas on Wednesday, August 18 with WEC 50. Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz puts his belt on the line for the first time against the man he beat to earn his title shot, Team Alpha Male member Joseph Benavidez. While the loss of Urijah Faber’s divisional debut hurts, the rest of the card is sure to deliver as the WEC always does. Lightweights Anthony Pettis and Shane Roller battle to determine the next contender at 155, Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett do the same in the 135-pound ranks, and Chad Mendes gets his toughest test to date in the form of Cub Swanson. We’re talking about the WEC here, people – you know it’s going to be outstanding.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Strikeforce delivers accordingly when they touch down at Houston’s Honda Center on the 21st. Light heavyweight champion Muhammed Lawal makes his first title defense against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will battle for the vacant middleweight title strap, and former WWE star Bobby Lashley makes his long-awaited return to action against Chad Griggs.
Closing out the chaotic month, the UFC is shipping up to Boston for the first time and they’re bringing a heavily-anticipated lineup with them. The lightweight title rematch between Frankie Edgar and B.J. Penn takes the headlining slot, but it’s the bout between UFC legend Randy “The Natural” Couture and former boxing great James “Lights Out” Toney that’s garnering the most attention, and rightfully so.
Local boy Kenny Florian faces Gray Maynard in a fight that could elevate the winner into a title shot sometime in late 2010 or early 2011, while Houlton, Maine’s Marcus Davis meets Nate Diaz, and Nate Marquardt faces submission specialist Rousimar Palhares to round out the main card.
Toss in the Sengoku Raiden Championships 14 event on August 22 and you have ten quality shows in 28-days.
Tell your family you love them, and play with the dog as much as you can this week, because once August hits, MMA is back and you’re officially busy.