10. Chad Mendes vs Clay Guida- A fight that was originally booked for UFC on FOX 7 back in April, but Guida suffered an injury & Mendes ended up fighting Darren Elkins. The reason this fight cracked the top 10 certainly wasn't because of Guida, as 3 of his last 4 performances are amongst the more dull fights on recent memory. Mendes used to be known as a bit of a "lay n pray" guy himself, but has slowly but surely grown out of that since joining the UFC. I like the way this fight sets up, as Guida seems to be exciting when he's fighting someone he cannot hold onto &/or shoulder shrug. Also, the winner should be in "the mix" for a Featherweight title shot.
9. Conor McGregor vs Max Holloway- 2 young extremely talented strikers that should make for a great fight, however long it may last. Conor has a lot more hype behind him coming into the fight & deservingly so. The young man possesses some real star qualities, both inside & outside of the cage. Holloway should be very game though as he is coming off a fight that ended his 3 fight winning streak, where he seemingly won the first 2 rounds, despite 2 the judges awarding the fight to Dennis Bermudez. The consensus amongst media & fans is that Conor may prove too much for Holloway. That may be the case, but boy will it be exciting.
8. Martin Kampmann vs Carlos Condit part 2- They UFC has labeled it "Condit vs Kampmann 2" which is a bit disrespectful to Kampmann in my personal opinion. Any who, this rematch is flying under the radar quite a bit & I can understand why. Its headlining the weakest of 4 Cards in a month & both main eventers are coming off of a L, or in Condit's case 2(if not 3). I like the fact that Kampmann took some time off after such a brutal knockout. If his chin is able to hold up this could be even better than the 1st encounter because its scheduled for 5 rounds. 2 Excellent kick-boxers with awesome jiu jitsu & poor wrestling should makes for another classic.
7. Josh Barnett vs Frank Mir- A long anticipated fight that has the potential to be special. It also has the potential to turn into a sloppy kick-boxing match between 2 past their prime heavyweights. I think Barnett will make it interesting no matter where it takes place though. If it does hit the ground, Mir doesn't mind playing from his guard & Barnett prefers to smother with his top game, before ultimately sinking in a submission like a python. This also marks the return of Barnett inside the octagon, where he won/didn't win the UFC Heavyweight title.
6. Michael McDonald vs Brad Pickett- SOMEHOW, this fight is on the prelim portion of the FS1 premiere card. Not that big of deal since nearly the whole card will be broadcast anyway, but having it below the Hall & Lauzon fights bothers me. BANGFEST! Hand speed, power, combinations, cardio, JUSTBLEED!!
5. Matt Brown vs Mike Pyle- I expect that having this at # 5 will not be agreed upon by the masses, but I've become heavily invested in Matt Browns ascendency. Its a shame that Alves had to pull out from this fight because his name is a bit sexier than Pyle's, but Pyle's resume in the last 5 years is clearly better. Pyle is on a nice resurgence of his own, & the winner may find themselves near a title shot with a win. Certainly the winner would be worthy of say the Kampmann/Condit winner. Both guys are very well-rounded, but I think Brown has the advantage as a faster starter, as well as having a better chin, & full-camp to prepare.
4. Alistair Overeem vs Travis Browne- A lot of questions for both fighters going into this fight. How is the Reem's, uh, conditioning? Is Browne ready for what appears to be a step up in competition? Can Browne prove that the outcome of his fight with Bigfoot was determined by his hamstring injury? Will Greg Jackson have game plan? Will Reem fight like a Blackzillian? The winner moves into immediate title contention at Heavyweight. I could even see the UFC giving Reem a shot at Cain, if both are successful in their next bouts. Not saying it would be right, but from a business standpoint I wouldn't put it past Lorenzo & Dana.
3. Jose Aldo vs Chan Sung Jung- Its in Brazil, the Zombie is coming off of a year layoff, plus he's been knocked out by George Roop. I do not give a funk! Zombies always make for entertaining fights. Aldo probably will win, but if Florian & Hominick can go 5 rounds, Zombie certainly could too. His in your face pressure style could be effective against Aldo in fact. Aldo, though often compared to Anderson Silva, fights very differently. He likes to stalk & control the center of the cage, while Anderson is a counter-striker elite. Hominick actually had a lot of success standing against Aldo, his problem was his chin as Aldo was able to drop him a couple times. If this fight goes 2 minutes, 2 rounds or 25 minutes it will be insane no doubt about it. 2 of the most exciting fighters in the most exciting division the UFC has to offer.
2. Shogun Rua vs Chael Sonnen- Chael is coming off of 2 losses where he was finished decisively & Shogun hasn't been the same since Jones molly-whopped him. That is exactly why I love this fight. Both men are about at the same point in their careers, the downside. Chael should be able to get Shogun to the ground as Rua doesn't have the best takedown defense. Once on the ground Sonnen is very controlling & effectively busy from the top. But, unless your Jon Jones , Shogun can create scrambles or hit sweeps on anyone, especially someone who hasn't had success at 205 in the UFC at all. Shogun is personally one of my favorite fighters of all-time so I will be pulling for him. At least if he loses it wont be a soul-taking type of beating. This fight is a real sleeper pick for Fight Of The Year & FOX will love it.
1. Benson Henderson vs Anthony Pettis part 2- The first fight was the kick heard round the world to top off the fight of the year for 2011. There as been a lot of talk about how & why we got here with torn meniscuses & concussions, but none of that matters. Pettis has said over the last year that Benson doesn't want to fight him, so there may be some nice heat leading up to this one. Pettis is coming off of 2 spectacular knockouts & while Benson has fought some close, but typically exciting fights since entering the UFC. Benson isn't the type to just hold someone down & not try to do work, so if he can get Pettis down I think Pettis will have space to create scrambles. Benson had a bit of trouble in the first fight in getting the takedown as the fight wore on. Remember, Ben likes to initiate his TDs from the clinch. He doesn't shoot much from the outside because he's not that successful in doing so. Will Pettis be able to fight at distance where he has shown to be deadly in his last 2 fight? Or can Ben get inside the clinch where he will surely try to bully? Even though I don't believe this one will top their first battle, they still have such contrasting styles even though they are so well-rounded. Oh yeah, its also for the UFC Lightweight title.