Check out some of the awesome fights left in 2010.
I know the feeling. You’re filled to the brim with turkey, stuffing and all kinds of other foods that you probably shouldn’t be eating.
But we’re here to help.
It’s time to beat those post-Thanksgiving doldrums by looking forward to the rest of the year in mixed martial arts. I’m going to highlight five fights you should be sure to check out leading up to the Jan. 1 UFC 125 show in Las Vegas. These aren’t high-profile fights – you won’t find any Georges St. Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck fights here – but you’ll find some hidden gems.
Fredson Paixao vs. Pablo Garza (The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale)
Sure, this fight lacks sex appeal, but sex appeal isn’t why it’s on this list. It’s here because this will mark the first time that former WEC featherweights have competed on a UFC card. Neither Paixo or Garza have any hopes of competing for a title any time soon, but it’s not important. What’s important is that they’re opening up the floodgates for a bunch of talented fighters to flow through.
Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann (UFC 125, Jan. 1)
The popular Leben gets a chance to co-main event a big pay per view event. Sure, he only got the slot due to Jose Aldo’s unfortunate injury, but you can bet he’ll make the most of it. It’s a huge fight for Brian Stann as well. The former Marine captain actually requested a fight with Leben because he knew that Leben can’t help but have exciting fights, and he views it as just the thing that might launch him into the upper stratosphere of the UFC middleweight division. A Leben win doesn’t just put him in title contention — it could also make him a coach on season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. Plenty at stake here.
Sean McCorkle vs. Stefan Struve (UFC 124)
McCorkle single-handedly turned his second UFC appearance into the co-main event of one of the biggest UFC pay per view events of the year. How? On the strength of his trash talk, of course. McCorkle took to the Twitter airwaves before the fight was even announced, calling Struve all manner of names and making fun of his nationality. Struve responded in kind, putting out a call for Photoshopped pictures of McCorkle in compromising situations. The end result? One of the more anticipated heavyweight fights of the fall, at least in the minds of internet denizens. A McCorkle win would vault him up the rankings and help him get the limelight he so desperately wants.
Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis (WEC 53)
This is the biggest fight in WEC history, if only because the winner moves to to face whoever the UFC lightweight champion is for a title unification match. Think about it for a second, if you will: the winner of this fight instantly moves from main events on low-visibility WEC shows to the main event of a UFC pay per view. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for both Henderson and Pettis and it’s a chance to prove that the WEC lightweights can hold their own with their UFC counterparts.
We’re salivating for this one already. Gomi and Guida are built for exciting fights, and this should be a barnburner. Guida begged Joe Silva for this fight until he got it, so you can be certain he’s not going into the cage looking for a decision. Gomi, meanwhile, will be looking to replicate the success he had against Tyson Griffin and continue towards a lightweight title shot. It could be an early pick for 2011’s fight of the year.