With the highly anticipated trilogy fight between lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and arch rival Gray Maynard scrubbed from the card, there are a number of people wondering whether or not UFC 130 is worth a $50 investment.
If you’re one of those undecided souls, you’ve come to the right place; here are five reasons why UFC 130 is worth the money.
5. A New Middleweight Contender Emerges
Whoever wins this 185-pound showdown will put themselves in the thick of the title hunt in Anderson Silva’s division, needing no more than one more good win to get a crack at “The Spider” and the belt he’s held for the last 1,700 days, give or take a week or two.
Santiago has gone 11-1 since departing the UFC back in 2006, while Stann has been impressive in his brief, two-fight turn since dropping from light heavyweight.
They may not be household names, but they’re both legitimate contenders, and familiarizing yourself with them now makes more sense than complaining about their future main card opportunities later. Like it or not, the winner could be looking at a co-main event slot down the line, and you don’t want to be in the dark about who they are when the time comes.
4. The Awesome Welterweight Battle No One is Discussing
The welterweight division has been getting a lot of attention lately, and rightfully so; there has been a number of high profile fights and interesting news items coming out of the 170-pound ranks.
Prior to the Edgar-Maynard fight falling from the top of the marquee, these two welterweights were going to be doing battle on the preliminary portion of the card; a positive for those who were planning on only watching the free fights from this event, but a disservice to the dueling warriors set to step into the cage.
Story has been on a massive roll since losing his UFC debut to John Hathaway. He’s rattled off five consecutive victories, including dominating Johny Hendricks, a fighter many pundits believe has a bright future in this sport. Alves, meanwhile, rebounded from his back-to-back losses to Fitch and GSP with a complete drubbing of John Howard at UFC 123.
This one has serious Fight of the Night potential.
3. Stefan Struve is Fighting
The ginormous 23-year-old Dutchman has never been in a boring fight in his UFC career. Even when he’s lost, Struve has done so in exciting fashion, like when he got blasted by Roy Nelson in just 39 seconds or when Junior dos Santos ruined his debut in under a minute.
This isn’t a case of Struve maybe delivering an entertaining fight; the kid says he’d rather lose and have the fans cheering than win and hear boos, and so far, he’s held true to that. Even his majority draw against Paul Buentello, a fighter who is mildly entertaining on his best days, was a stand-and-bang session that earned quality reviews.
Struve has shown that he can take a beating and keep coming forward, and paired with Travis Browne this weekend, I expect him to do just that. Don’t be surprised if you see the heavyweight prospect’s name on the list of bonus check recipients when the night is over.
2. Roy Nelson is an Inspiration to Us All
Fat guy with a mullet fighting on the biggest stage of them all? If that’s not an inspiration to couch potatoes everywhere, I don’t know what is.
Don’t get it twisted: Nelson is a high level heavyweight who ranks in the top 15 of the division overall, the top 5 in the UFC, and is capable of causing Frank Mir a whole bunch of problems in the UFC 130 co-main event.
That being said, you can’t help but have a chuckle when you look at the guy or watch him walk to the cage with “Weird” Al Yankovic’s “Fat” booming on the sound system. Rocking his curly Kentucky Waterfall with shaved sides and rubbing his Buddha belly, Nelson looks more like the guy you run into at Home Depot every other Saturday than an elite fighter, and that makes him a pleasure to watch.
Wouldn’t you like to see the guy who resembles you or your neighbor punch a former two-time heavyweight champion in the face a couple times? I know I would.
1. Can “Rampage” Really Knock Hamill into Tomorrow?
When Matt Hamill stepped up to replace Thiago Silva opposite Quinton Jackson on this card, his trainer said that they hoped Jackson lost to Lyoto Machida at UFC 123 so his charge could get a shot at the former Pride and UFC champion.
In a full contact combat sport, you need to be careful what you wish for.
While Hamill has certainly improved over his career and transformed himself into a quality gatekeeper in the 205-pound ranks, he hasn’t done well against elite competition in the past, and Jackson remains an elite light heavyweight.
Besides, there’s a reason they tell you not to poke sleeping bears.
When Jackson heard Hamill’s manager’s comments, he said he was going to “knock him into tomorrow” and I want to see if he follows through on that promise. A motivated and focused “Rampage” is still a serious threat, and while he’s had some trouble with wrestlers in the past, he’s still a cut above Hamill at this stage of his career… or is he?