Five selling points for tonight’s UFC 131 PPV
Let’s be honest with one another: regardless of what I say here, there are some people who are just not going to go out and buy UFC 131 on pay-per-view this weekend.
Their mind is made up, and that’s perfectly fine.
For those who remain on the fence or need some reassurance about spending their hard-earned dollars, you’ve once again come to the right place.
Despite the main event undergoing a facelift and a slew of newcomers and relative unknowns filling out the majority of the main card, UFC 131 is still a solid five fight lineup that could turn out to be one of those unexpectedly entertaining events.
Still not convinced? Here’s five reasons why it’s worth the money.
5. Back-to-Back Duds? I Don’t Think So
Continuing in our honesty theme from the start of this segment, I’ll admit that UFC 130 fell short of expectations. While the first three fights of the main card were exciting and entertaining enough, it’s how you finish that counts. Though it may have went in like a lion, it came out like a lamb, with a pair of sluggish showdowns closing out the show.
The dynamic of those final two pairings made that kind of result a possibility, but the same doesn’t apply here. If anything, this event will start slow and build to a crescendo. That being said, I don’t even expect that to happen, and the remaining four points that follow will hopefully convince you of the same.
4. Clash of Heavyweight Newcomers
You may not know Dave “Pee-Wee” Herman or Jon Olav Einemo, but trust me when I tell you that they’re both great additions to the UFC heavyweight division. The fact that they’re now meeting each other in their joint debuts only makes things cooler.
Einemo was originally slated to face Shane Carwin, and brings a tremendous grappling pedigree and limited MMA experience with him into the cage. He hasn’t competed in MMA since 2006, when he lost to Fabricio Werdum and beat James “The Colossus” Thompson. Truthfully, he hasn’t even had any high profile successes on the grappling scene lately either; his biggest victories to date were back in 2003 when he defeated Roger Gracie en route to winning the 2003 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
Still, his pedigree is impressive and he’s been someone I’ve wanted to see compete for quite some time, and now that is going to happen. The fact that he’s facing off against another heavyweight on my “I want to see this guy up close” list makes it even better.
The 26-year-old Herman started garnering attention by going 15-0 to start his career, and remains one of the top heavyweight prospects heading into his UFC debut. He’s 20-2, with his most recent loss coming by way of disqualification; he struck former Pride and UFC competitor Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou with some illegal knees back in May 2010.
Herman has made his name smashing on sub-par competition, and while Einemo hasn’t been in the cage in quite some time, he’s the most credible opponent “Pee-Wee” has faced to date. That might not be saying much, but they should each serve as a legitimate measuring stick for the other.
With the heavyweight division undergoing some reshuffling, seeing where these two could potentially fit in sounds like a reason to tune in to me.
3. Florian the Featherweight
Since becoming a household name on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter all the way back in 2005, Kenny Florian has been one of the more popular fighters in the UFC. For the better part of the last five years, the Massachusetts native has been a perennial contender in the lightweight division, but that is about to change this weekend.
At UFC 131, Florian makes his debut in the featherweight division, facing off against the extremely tough Diego Nunes in a bout that could determine the next #1 contender in the 145 pound division.
After twice failing in his attempt to claim the UFC lightweight title and losing then losing out on a third kick at the can in his hometown at UFC 118, Florian has opted to shed an extra ten pounds and pursue fights that he finds more compelling in the equally exciting, though less recognizable featherweight ranks.
Fighters switch weight divisions fairly regularly these days, but it’s not that often that a consensus top 10 contender changes their address, and that is what makes Florian’s drop all the more intriguing. Having remained in the upper echelon of the lightweight ranks for the last three years, it’s conceivable that Florian could do the same – if not better – in the featherweight division as well.
He’s already talked about wanting to face-off with champion Jose Aldo at some point, and the only way to get there is to get through Nunes in Vancouver.
2. Middleweight Eliminator
How can a fight where the combatants are a combined 13-3 in the division where all three losses came at the hands of the champion, #1 contender and a former title challenger be receiving this little attention?
Both have won back-to-back fights coming into this meeting; Munoz over teammates Aaron Simpson and C.B. Dollaway, Maia having bested Mario Miranda and Kendall Grove. Their combined losses have come against Yushin Okami (Munoz), Anderson Silva and Nate Marquardt (Maia), as formidable a trio of 185 pound competitors as there has been in the UFC in the last few years.
On top of that, the very different approaches these two bring to the cage should produce an entertaining bout. Maia is all skill and technique, a Brazilian jiu jitsu wizard with improving boxing, while Munoz is brute force and strength, a former DI National champion at Oklahoma State who proven knockout power in his hands.
With the lack of depth at the top end of the middleweight division, and Marquardt’s move down to welterweight, the winner of this could be looking at a #1 contender matchup or perhaps even a title shot after this one. Fights with those kind of implications are always worth paying attention to in my books.
1. Rock’em Sock’em Robots – The Heavyweight Edition
Of the 10 wins Junior dos Santos (6) and Shane Carwin (4) have earned inside the Octagon, nine of them have ended because their opponent happened to be on the wrong end of a serious heavyweight beatdown. Eight of those guys didn’t escape the first round.
So what do you think is going to happen when you close the cage door with the two knockout artists inside on Saturday night?
In addition to the explosive possibilities, this is a meeting of two top 5 competitors with a shot at the UFC heavyweight title on the line; whoever remains standing will get the chance to stand opposite Cain Velasquez later this year.
This fight alone is compelling enough to make me want to shell out $50 and ride the couch on Saturday night, so when you throw in the other four reasons and handful of fights, I don’t know what is holding you back.