UFC 136: Five Reasons to Watch

Our last minute selling points for tonight’s event

If you need 11th hour convincing on why you should be watching this event tonight, I’m going to have to request your MMA Fan Card back.

I know there have been a ton of fights over the last few weeks, and your friends and/or significant other wants to spend some time with you, but that’s what the next two Saturdays are for.

Today? Today is for UFC 136, period. End sentence.

Nothing else you can do tonight is going to be better than what is going to take place in Houston, so endure another couple days of being frozen out, sit back, and enjoy the fights. If you’re still not convinced, keep reading.

1. The Year’s Best Line-up

Top to bottom, this card kicks every other card’s ass.

There are no fewer than eight really intriguing match-ups scheduled for tonight — it would have been nine had Dave Herman not been a late scratch — and the other three fights are all okay too.

Both of the Spike TV fights are worthy of a place on the pay-per-view card, and the final four fights on the night trump any quartet that has been assembled so far this year.

Two title fights and two title eliminators; what more could you ask for?

2. The Fight of the Year Continues

Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard kicked off 2011 in ridiculous fashion, dropping the Fight of the Year in our laps right out of the gate. That fight went to a draw, and after months of anticipation, they’re finally set to renew hostilities and resolve this thing once and for all.

While the chances of this fight matching the level of drama and excited produced ten months ago are slight, that’s the same things everyone said about Edgar’s chances of coming back after he caught a beating in the first round on New Year’s Day. Additionally, the last fight was so good that you almost owe it to yourself to watch this one, no matter what.

You wouldn’t watch The Godfather, Part I and never pick up The Godfather, Part II to see how things played out, would you?

(Note: if you would, we can’t be friends)

3. Is The Third Time The Charm?

Long-time UFC contender Kenny Florian gets his third crack at championship gold, stepping in opposite Jose Aldo with the featherweight title on the line. He’s argued against Dana White’s “choker” accusations, but tonight is show and prove time.

More than his solid victory over Diego Nunes back in June, Florian’s high profile and level of recognition brought him to the title shot. There are other fighters more deserving of this spot (read: Chad Mendes), but none is as known as Florian, so here we are.

This is his last chance. A loss here, and it’s no championships for you, sir. Sean Sherk and BJ Penn were tall orders when he fought them for the lightweight title, and Aldo might be an even more daunting task now.

This is why Florian dropped to featherweight; now he’s got to make it count.

4. Best Non-Title Middleweight Fight in Ages

I honestly can’t think of a non-title middleweight fight I’ve been this excited for in years.

To be honest, there have been middleweight title fights that didn’t get me as excited as this meeting between Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann.

Stann has looked very, very good since dropping to middleweight. This is beyond a litmus test; this is a full-blown final exam. If he passes, he gets a title shot, if he fails, it just shows that he needs a little more seasoning, probably on the wrestling mats.

For Sonnen, this is a chance to get back in the cage and fight his way back into the cage with Anderson Silva. He was this close to becoming the world champion last time they met, and you know he’s chomping at the bit for a second chance. But first he has to get through Stann.

This one is going to tell us a whole lot about the winner, and probably a fair amount about the loser too. Those are the kind of fights you don’t want to miss.

5. The Rise of The Young Assassin

Remember a few years back when Melvin Guillard frustrated the hell out of everyone because he showed so much potential, but just couldn’t seem to put it all together? Those days are long gone.

With the help of Greg Jackson, Mike Winkeljohn, and others, he’s harnessed that potential, and turned it into a five-fight winning streak. Another win and he might be looking at a title shot.

Guillard has been tremendously impressive over his last four fights. While some people criticize his effort in the Jeremy Stephens fight, I think it showed his development and maturity. Gone was the “gunslinger” mentality, replaced by patience, technique, and an approach that played to his strengths while avoiding his weaknesses.

After wanting to see him realize his potential for the last few years, how could you not want to watch him do just that now?