Few things can compare to the anticipation level felt heading into a big fight. We are merely four months into 2010 and already we’ve witnessed some memorable matchups in the Octagon. This is just the beginning of what is sure to be the biggest year for MMA to date. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the coming months as Heavy.com ranks the top five most anticipated fights of the year (announced as of this posting).
5. Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz/Rich Franklin/Randy Couture- UFC 115
TUF 11 coaches and former UFC light heavyweights champions Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were originally set to complete their trilogy at UFC 115 in Vancouver, British Columbia. However, a string of reports circulating the net indicate that “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” has pulled out of the fight due to medical reasons. If Ortiz cannot fight Liddell, rumor has it that Rich Franklin or Randy Couture will step in to face “The Iceman”. Regardless of the opponent, Liddell is one of the most beloved fighters in the sport and fans are eagerly awaiting his return. Hopefully for Liddell’s sake he can shake off a two-fight losing streak and return to the win column otherwise this may be the last time we see the UFC Hall of Famer competing in the Octagon.
4. Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber- WEC 48
WEC featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo has demolished every fighter thrown his way in the WEC’s 145-lbs division. The newly crowned champion is on the verge of reaching pound-for-pound supremacy but he will first have to get through the former champ in Urijah Faber. Faber is the WEC’s poster boy and one of the most exciting young stars in the division. “The California Kid” will have the support of his hometown crowd in Sacramento adding to the storyline. This fight will headline the WEC’s first ever pay-per-view event and will likely go down in history as the biggest featherweight fight in the history of MMA to date.
3. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua II- UFC 113
The first fight between UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua ended in controversy. After battering Machida with powerful leg and body kicks for the majority of their UFC 104 bout, many were surprised when Machida was awarded the unanimous decision victory instead of Rua. The UFC wasted little time setting up the rematch for UFC 113 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Hopefully this time a clear cut winner will be determined between these two light heavyweight warriors.
2. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans- UFC 114
With his role as B.A Baracus in the new A-Team film complete, “Rampage” is ready to return to the UFC to settle the score with Rashad Evans at UFC 114. Evans and Jackson spent six weeks jawing at each other as coaches on TUF 10 and nearly came to blows several times at recent UFC events. The fight was originally scheduled to take place this past December, but the long delay just makes fans even more intrigued to see these two rivals pound away at one another. The winner of this grudge match may be in position for a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title.
1. Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin- UFC 116
Remember the old monster movies featuring Godzilla going up against King Kong? Well the goliath matchup between UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and interim champ Shane Carwin is the closest thing to a real-life version of that. Lesnar will finally make his return after a year-long layoff and will once again look to unify the titles. Lesnar’s previous opponents didn’t have an answer for his raw power, but Carwin may be the only heavyweight to match Lesnar in the strength and power departments. Carwin is 12-0 in his MMA career with 12 consecutive first round stoppages.