Jason Miller vs. Michael Bisping (TUF 14 Finale – December 3)
Yes, you read that right; December 2007 — he beat Tim Kennedy. His four wins since then have all been lay-ups. Whether he has the tools to beat Bisping is the reason I’ll be tuning in.
Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem (UFC 141 – December 30)
Two mammoth heavyweights with plenty to prove, and they work as a very intriguing contrast of styles too.
All Overeem does is smash people in the face, something that happens to be Brock Lesnar’s least favorite thing on this planet. Conversely, Lesnar is best when he uses his brute strength to wrestle opponents to the ground and maul them, and while Overeem has solid takedown defense, he’s never faced a former Division I National champion who desperately wants to get the fight to the mat.
Hatsu Hioki (UFC 137)
Hioki was considered the best 145 pound fighter outside the UFC before signing with the organization. His first chance to prove himself comes against the durable George Roop, and a win could result in a title bout with Jose Aldo.
Matt Mitrione (UFC 137)
Raise your hand if you ever thought “Meathead” from Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter would be 5-0 and a win away from breaking into the top 10 fighter in the UFC? That’s exactly what happens if he beat Cheick Kongo on October 29.
Donald Cerrone (UFC 137)
“Cowboy” is looking for his fourth win of 2011, filling in for Sam Stout against rising contender Dennis Siver. Four straight wins in the UFC over increasingly more challenging competition — and six consecutive wins overall — would surely be enough to earn Cerrone a place on the short list of lightweight contenders heading into 2012.
Brandon Vera (UFC 137)
This isn’t about living up to the youthful boasts he made at the start of his UFC career; now Vera just needs to prove he can still win a fight in the UFC, plain and simple.
Thiago Alves (UFC 138)
After brutalizing his way to a welterweight title shot, Alves has lost three of his last four fights, including his UFC 100 defeat to GSP. He seems to have put his weight issues behind him thanks to Mike Dolce, but now he needs to get back into the win column. A loss to UFC newcomer Papy Abedi will be hard to come back from.
Rory MacDonald (UFC 140)
He’s looked great and just about everyone thinks he’s destined for greatness, which makes his bout with Brian Ebersole so important. This is the kind of fight some rising stars would overlook and lose; MacDonald needs to prove he’s that kind of rising star.
Mark Hominick (UFC 140)
I feel bad for “The Korean Zombie” because Hominick will be fighting in front of family and friends in Toronto, and fighting in honor of his coach and best friend, Shawn Tompkins, on what should be an emotional night for all of Team Tompkins.
Jon Fitch (UFC 141)
Sidelined since his fight with Penn at UFC 127, Fitch has seemingly become the forgotten man in the welterweight division, which is crazy, considering he’s still the best welterweight in the world not named St-Pierre. A good showing against Johny Hendricks should sufficiently remind people.