Five bouts to make coming out of the UFC’s debut on network television
JUNIOR DOS SANTOS VS. BROCK LESNAR/ALISTAIR OVEREEM: It’s the next “biggest fight in UFC heavyweight history,” and by the time it finally rolls around, there will have been plenty of airtime dedicated to hyping the finals of what ultimately amounts to a mini-tournament. Lesnar was in full pitchman mode on the UFC on FOX pre-fight show, guaranteeing that his bout with Overeem will be one of the largest – if not the absolute largest – pay per view events of the year, and the eventual bout with the champ will be one of the biggest events of 2012. Dos Santos now has time to heal his injured knee, enjoy his sweet new championship belt and wait for the winner to emerge.
CAIN VELASQUEZ VS. SHANE CARWIN: It might make more sense to match Velasquez up with the loser of Overeem/Lesnar, but Cain will likely be out of action for quite some time while nursing injuries he suffered in training camp. Carwin, too, is on the shelf, so it makes sense to match these two guys up when they eventually return to the cage. It’s a fight that’s been scheduled before, and with both guys coming off losses to Dos Santos, it makes sense to pull the trigger now.
BEN HENDERSON VS. FRANKIE EDGAR: Much like Dos Santos facing the winner of Lesnar/Overeem, we already know this fight is happening. It’ll go down on February 26 in the main event of UFC 144 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, with Henderson challenging for Edgar’s championship. It’s been a dramatic year for the former WEC lightweight champion since losing to Anthony Pettis in 2010’s biggest highlight-reel moment. Henderson has reeled off three straight wins over incredibly tough competition and now finds himself challenging for the UFC title. It’s crazy to think that we could potentially see a rematch between Henderson and long-time rival Donald Cerrone in 2012, only this time for the biggest belt in the lightweight division.
CLAY GUIDA VS. JIM MILLER: The best thing Clay Guida can take away from his loss to Henderson was that it wasn’t one-sided. He proved that he’s worthy of consideration as a top five or six lightweight in the UFC, and he won’t fall far down the ladder for his next bout. A fight with Jim Miller makes sense in that both guys are still just on the outside of the title picture. It’s also an intriguing stylistic fight with two grinding grapplers.
DUSTIN POIRIER VS. ERIK KOCH: This one is ready-made, given that Poirier called Koch out after defeating Pablo Garza at UFC on FOX. Both fighters are rising quickly in the featherweight division, but neither is ready to challenge Jose Aldo for the championship. Both are riding four-fight winning streaks, and both guys tend to deliver exciting and devastation striking battles. It’s time to separate the featherweight wheat from the chaff, and this is the fight to do it with.