Five Reasons To Watch UFC 138

Chris Leben

Barao, Alves highlight reasons you should watch tonight’s event

1. The first five-round non-title fight

We’ve heard about them for months, and they’re finally here. Chris Leben and Mark Munoz have the honors of squaring off in the first five-round non-title fight in UFC history. It seems like an unlikely choice to begin a new tradition, but you have to start somewhere, right?

It’s a historic moment, to be sure. It’s not up there with the biggest moments in UFC history, but it’s the beginning of something that will be the standard for main events in the foreseeable future. While the UFC isn’t the first to do the five-round non-title fight, they’re the biggest, and because of that, everyone else will follow suit.

It’s a pretty sure bet that this particular fight isn’t going to last five rounds. Both guys have too much power to go the distance over 25 minutes, and it’ll probably end before even three rounds are expired. But it’s still a big moment and the start of something exciting in mixed martial arts.

2. Will Thiago Alves finally live up to his potential?

Thiago Alves should beat Papy Abedi fairly handily. But then again, Alves should have beaten Rick Story. He didn’t. He’s a highly-skilled mixed martial artist who never seems to live up to his true potential.

Yes, he’s faced some truly tough competition over the years, and you can’t fault him for losing to the likes of Georges St-Pierre and Jon Fitch. Those two are the best welterweights in the world. But Alves was also once considered one of the best welterweights in the world.

Papy Abedi should be overmatched and outclassed in this fight. If Alves comes to the cage with his game face on, you’ll see a quick and violent ending to this fight.

3. The chance to see future prospects in action

On one hand, you’ll look at the UFC 138 card and wonder who the hell most of these guys are. That’s understandable, to be sure. But on the other hand – if you’re the glass half full type – it’s a chance to see a bunch of guys who might end up meaning something in their respective UFC weight classes.

Renan Barao is riding a 26-fight win streak (which we’ll talk about shortly). He’s considered a decent bantamweight prospect who might someday give Dominick Cruz a run for his money. His fight with Brad Pickett should be an exciting battle and a real test of Barao’s future potential.

Jason Young is a dynamic striker with some of the best standup in the featherweight division. He’s incredibly fun to watch and there’s always a chance he’ll end a fight in violent fashion.

All told, you’ve got a chance to see a bunch of guys in the early days of their UFC careers. They might not become champions, but it’s always fun to see people starting out. Someday, you might be able to say that you saw one of these guys fight long before he became a legend.

4. 27 in a row

Renan Barao’s 26-fight winning streak is a pretty incredible feat. Yes, a lot of his wins came against suspect opponents on independent Brazilian cards, but does that really matter?

It’s similar in nature to the career of Fedor Emelianenko. No matter what kind of quality the guy has faced over his career, the very fact that he’s been able to string 26 wins together is an impressive feat. As we all know, mixed martial arts is a fickle beast, and it’s much easier to lose a bout here and there to inferior competition than to string together such a long winning streak.

Barao hasn’t lost a fight since 2005. That’s an impressive string, no matter how you look at it.

5. The United Nations of MMA

There are six different countries represented on the main card, and Michihiro Omigawa’s inclusion on the preliminary card gives you seven different nations involved in one event. No matter where you’re from, there’s a pretty good chance you have someone from your home country to root for.

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