UFC About To Hit The Home Stretch

with UFC welterweight title belt

UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre

UFC 137 starts exciting ten-week charge to the end of 2011

I’m glad there are no UFC fights these next two weeks.

While some fight fans might be looking at the next two weeks as torture, weekends squandered doing work around the house — raking leaves, and “getting prepared for winter” as my mother used to say — I welcome the break with open arms.

That’s saying a lot too, because I live in Victoria, British Columbia, where working in the yard in October is accompanied by torrential rains. You can’t just put it off until tomorrow either, because it’ll be raining tomorrow too.

It’ll be raining until May, maybe June, with a little bit of wet snow mixed in from December to February.

With that kind of awful weather and a laundry list of chores awaiting me — including laundry itself — why exactly am I so welcoming of the current two week break in the UFC schedule?

Because when it’s over, we’ve got seven events in 10 weeks, including three title fights, a bunch of solid-to-spectacular non-title encounters, and a handful of individual fighters with intriguing match-ups between now and New Year’s Eve.

I’m happy for the break because we’re about to hit the home stretch on the 2011 UFC fight calendar, and the race to the finish is going to be outstanding.

Here’s a look at what lies ahead.

TITLE FIGHTS

Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit (UFC 137 – October 29)

This UFC welterweight title tilt might be the toughest pairing St-Pierre has had in the last two years.

While he’s been able to accurately game plan for opponents like Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields, Condit brings a less predictable, less patterned approach to the cage. He brings proven knockout power and an unbreakable will to win too, as he’s shown over his impressive five-fight run in the UFC.

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos (UFC on FOX 1 – November 12)

I don’t really think I need to say much to sell the awesomeness of this fight/ These are the two best heavyweights in the sport, and they’re meeting in an historic bout for the UFC heavyweight title.

What more do you need?

Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida (UFC 140 – December 10)

The latest addition to the list of exciting fights lined up for the home stretch, Jones has quickly become a “must-see” attraction every time he fights. During his rapid climb to the top of the light heavyweight ranks, Machida has often been mentioned as one of the few people with the potential to unseat the supremely talented upstart, and now we’ll get to see if he can.

CAN’T MISS NON-TITLE FIGHTS

BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz (UFC 137)

People might actually be more excited to see this fight than to have watched Diaz do battle with St-Pierre for the welterweight title. That fight could still happen should Diaz win here, though that is far from guaranteed.

The former Strikeforce champion gets his chance to prove that he deserves to be considered as one of the best welterweights in the sport in this one, as a win over Penn will trump all of his Strikeforce conquests.

Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson (UFC on FOX 1)

Think of this as The Energizer Bunny (Guida) versus Gumby (Henderson) in a battle to see which one will eventually get to fight for the UFC lightweight title.

The pace will be frenetic, hair will be flying everywhere, Guida will let out at least one wall-rattling belch between rounds, and someone will emerges as a possible opponent for Frankie Edgar.

Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz (UFC 138 – November 5)

Chael Sonnen pretty much locked up a spot opposite Anderson Silva Saturday with his win/challenge combo at UFC 136. The winner of this one could be right behind him.

Munoz has put together a tidy three-fight winning streak, and won six-of-seven overall since moving to middleweight. Following his win over Demian Maia with an impressive performance against “The Crippler” could secure Munoz a shot at the title.

Leben, meanwhile, bounced back from a loss to Brian Stann at UFC 125 with a sub-30-second thrashing of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. He’s won four of his last five, and adding a win over Munoz to his resume might be enough to earn him a chance to challenge for the middleweight championship.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson (UFC 139 – November 19)

Henderson returns to the Octagon after a two-year bid in Strikeforce that saw him lose to a current UFC welterweight, but also claim the organization’s light heavyweight title.

Rua took out his frustrations about losing the light heavyweight title on Forrest Griffin in August, and now whoever wins this could make their way to the top of the let of contenders. Henderson could potential earn a rematch with Anderson Silva by winning here according to Dana White.

Regardless of title implications, this is a super-cool fight.

Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber (UFC 139)

Winner gets Dominick Cruz, simple as that. While I’m not a huge fan of Faber returning to a title bout after just one win, I am a huge fan of this fight.

Bowles lost the belt to Cruz after breaking his hand early in the fight and being forced to call it a night. He’s looked solid since returning, and has the power/speed/submissions combination that could be dangerous to the proven and experienced former featherweight champ.

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