It seems as if the UFC and every modestly upper level mixed martial arts organization is holding an event this week. With the glut of content, there's no way you can pay attention to it all. And frankly, there's no reason to watch everything. That's why we're here to focus on the top 10 (or so) fights from the week from the across the planet so you can pick and choose how to prioritize your time.
You're in luck. In addition to a very commendable UFC fight card, the B-leagues of MMA are putting some of the game's best up and coming talent on display in fights of significance and prestige. It's a true hardcore fan's delight on December 6th and 7th.
Must-see fight: Antonio Silva vs. Mark Hunt
You have to be deranged to miss this. No one's ever really sure what's going to happen when Hunt fights. Is Bigfoot going to get bludgeoned in one round? Will Silva take Hunt to the ground and blow him out there? It's anyone's guess and the anticipation alone is a ton of fun. The fight itself, relevant for both fighters and the heavyweight division to a non-negligible degree, should also be chaotic until it ends abruptly. Hunt's fights are as much sport and competitive unpredictability as they are bizarre attractions.
Honorable mention: Clint Hester vs. Dylan Andrews
Hester is perhaps a limited prospect, but one worth following. Andrews keeps on proving doubters wrong as he climbs the ranks. This fight's outcome has the potential to be highly determinative.
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Must-see fight: Thomas Almeida vs. George Pacurariu
For a lower-tier organization, they've put together a fight card with three legitimate MMA prospects. The first two, Almeida and Pacurariu, are not to be trifled with. Almeida is undefeated and on an explicit quest for a UFC contract. He's a sensational, combination striker with legitimate durability. Check out this come from behind victory against Valdines Silva, not merely the grit on display to hang on, but the violence with how he closes the show.
Still, let's talk about Pacurariu for a bit. There are legitimate issues with his ground development, although one wonders if Almeida has the fight IQ to exploit those weaknesses. No one is suggesting here's terrible there. He's not half bad, but he's not much of a submission threat and struggles with positional control. His striking, however, is another story. He's not of the Muay Thai variety, but an excellent striker at distance and packs a serious punch. His style vs. Almeida's is all sorts of Europe vs. Brazil.
Aguilar is just bodying fools on the regional scene and Garcia, short of landing some wild swing, is going to get his lunch money taken by a top prospect in the sport who is running through credible challengers on the level he's competing.
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Must-see fight: Neil Seery vs. Ulysses Gomez
This event is headlined by a flyweight title fight between UFC veteran Gomez and Cage Warriors' own Seery. Seery is an older chap at 34, but is modestly well rounded and currently riding a four-fight win streak (three of which he's won by stoppage). It's not the most interesting fight outside of the UFC universe since neither is really a rising prospect, but it is two veterans of commendable skill battling it out over five rounds. That counts.
Must-see fight: Mamed Khalidov vs. Ryuta Sakurai
Khalidov is one of the best middleweights not currently in the UFC, although he once came close to signing with the organization. His talent is being squandered against subpar opposition, but he actually does have some history with the aging Deep veteran in Sakurai. The pair fought to a draw in 2010. This is an attempt to figure out where things stand now. One would suspect Khalidov has the finesse to win everywhere, but stranger things have happened.
Honorable mention: Aslambek Saidov vs. Daniel Acacio
Saidov is Khalidov's cousin, actually, both of them ethnically Chechan. He's nothing to necessarily write home about, but probably worth keeping an eye on.
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Must-see fight: Rafael Miranda vs. Alexandre Campos
My MMA Fighting colleague Guilherme Cruz gives me the assist here. He tells me the main event is one to keep an eye on. For starters, it's for the Jungle Fight featherweight title. But more importantly, the winner between Miranda, the champion, and Campos, the challenger, may not be too far away from a call-up to the UFC. Wallid Ismael, the founder and chief operator of the organization, has close ties with the UFC. A winner in this bout could very easily find himself on a future UFC Fight Night card in Brazil.
Must-see fight: Barb Honchack vs. Leslie Smith
Honchak is older, but a tank. Both she and Smith seem to have found their footing at flyweight. Smith is a forward pressure, volume striker while Honchak is a more methodical fighter. The styles match up nicely, the stakes are high and the bout sits atop arguably the best card of the weekend for any promotion not named UFC.
Honorable mention: Joanne Calderwood vs. Katja Kankaanpää.
Calderwood is an absolute bulldozer and easily one of the top prospects in all of women's mixed martial arts. Seriously, catch her fights whenever you can. She is about to make a lot of noise.
Must-see fight: Lance Palmer vs. Georgi Karakhanyan
Palmer is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. He's a top prospect largely due to his collegiate wrestling pedigree, although he's yet to truly turn a corner in his skill development. He's had issues with regional fighters who appear to not share his athletic gifts or takedown skills. Karakhanyan is well-rounded and clearly his toughest fight to date. One also wonders, though, what Duane Ludwig can do for Palmer's striking as the four-time All-American Ohio State wrestler is a member of Team Alpha Male.
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Must-see fight: Kevin Belingon vs. David Aranda Santacana
This fight card truly, truly sucks, but has a couple of bouts worth checking out if you've got nothing else to do. I don't think particularly highly of Belingon's skills, although his hustle and grit are admirable. He is a bit of a blitzing striker out of the respected Team Lakay as well, which often means he can catch lesser opponents off guard. Satacana has a lot of proving to do, but is an undefeated prospect out of Spain who has shown some flash and finishing ability on his way up the ladder. The problem is Santacana is 37 and hasn't really fought on any stage where opponents can be a true measuring stick. For all of Belingon's issues, this is a good test for him.
Honorable mention: Koji Oishi vs. Honorio Banario