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Fightweets: What is next week's best under-the-radar fight?

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You know a big fight week is upcoming when the hype kicks up in earnest the week prior. So with the UFC's biggest stretch of events in a long time just around the corner, let's get right into another edition of Fightweets.

What is next week's sleeper fight?

@patkawesome: What fight are you most looking forward to in the nine days of fury? No main events or co-mains.

Greatest Fight Week Ever is almost here. Let that thought roll around your brain a little bit. We have to knock on wood, of course, because nothing's ever official until the fighters step into the cage, but we're about to have our own little Super Bowl of MMA, three straight nights of fights leading up to the biggest bout since ... well, since last month. But you get my point.

Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor in the UFC featherweight title unification match in the main event of UFC 194, of course, will get the bulk of the hype. But then you start to sift through the layers and you remember just how ridiculously deep next week will be.

Imagine, for a minute, that there was only one card next week, with a main event of Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold, and Frankie Edgar vs. Chad Mendes as the co-main. Even if the rest of the card was crap, we'd eagerly anticipate the event because of just the top two fights. And those are just two fights spread out over two nights.

Then you start combing through the rest. Using your guidelines, patkawesome, we've disqualified Aldo-McGregor, Weidman-Rockhold, Edgar-Mendes, Barboza-Ferguson, Namajunas-VanZant, and Miller-Chiesa (You could create an all-time great PPV main card lineup plus FS1 prelim headliner with those alone).

Even taking those bouts off the table, it still feels like you're trying to narrow down your choices at a buffet. How about Gunnar Nelson vs. Demian Maia? This has the potential to be one of those fights you show to people to debunk the claim that ground fighting is boring. Jacare Souza vs. Yoel Romero seems like a gift as well. Max Holloway vs. Jeremy Stephens is a reminder that Stephens had a barnburner with Dennis Bermudez last time out at UFC 189, which was promptly forgotten because of the depth of that show.

And that's just the UFC 194 main card. The TUF Finale has Joe Lauzon vs. Evan Dunham. The Paige and Sage Show on Thursday has Sage Northcutt's next fight, Elias Theodoru vs. Thiago Santos, and by the way, Aljamain Sterling vs. Johnny Eduardo is on the undercard. (Yes, next week's so big I'll be italicizing for emphasis a lot).

You want me to pick just one out of all those? Fine, I'll go with Lauzon vs. Dunham, partly out of Boston bias and mostly because of Lauzon's propensity for show stealing over the years.

Oh wait, you said "nine days of fury." That would include UFC on FOX next week with Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone and Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem. You know what? I'm going to stop right here before my head explodes.

Holly Holm-Ronda Rousey 2

@RuckerYeah: Is a Holly-Ronda rematch the right call?

It is if you're a fight promoter. Want to guarantee that your milestone UFC 200 event tops all the records set by your milestone UFC 100 event? Then go ahead and book Holm-Rousey 2 for Las Vegas in July and then sit back and watch the public shower you with vast sums of money.

Of course, reality's a little bit more complicated. Rousey's going to be out for awhile with movie commitments, and you'd like to assume she's not just going to go back to her old patterns and treat the rematch like just another rushed camp against just another opponent of the month.

Is Holm going to want to wait that long? If not, Holm vs. Miesha Tate is a bankable PPV seller, or at the very least, a hell of a ratings draw for a FOX network event.

Going that route would also risk killing the golden goose of a main event. You have to assume, since Dana White has spoken to Ronda on several occasions, that at some point, Rousey has indicated what she wants to do next. She's already thoroughly outclassed the rest of the competition at 135. Unless she wants a tuneup fight to work out the rust (Amanda Nunes? Cat Zingano rematch?) you pretty much have to strike while the iron is hot. Without Rousey's work over the past three years, women fighters might still be on the outside of the UFC looking in, much less headlining some of the biggest shows in MMA history. If Rousey wants the title shot right away, she gets it.

Next step for Bendo?

@TobyPaltridge: Where will Bendo fight next?

Wherever he gets the most money and the best long-term security, which is exactly how it should be. Ben Henderson's self-belief has always been his strongest asset. The way he seized the day in the final two bouts of his contract -- and doing so at welterweight, making himself as big an asset as he's ever been by becoming a player at two weight classes -- was a thing of beauty. A fighter's window is limited. Bendo's already been there, done that as a world champion. At age 32, Henderson should go with whomever sets him up best for life after fighting. UFC would be smart to go the Gilbert Melendez free-agent route with Henderson rather than the Phil Davis/Josh Thomson path. But if Bellator offers more dough, Henderson shouldn't hesitate to sign.

Slam jam

@Commanderoe: Shouldn't the slam KO be considered illegal? You're slamming someone in the back of their head against the ground

I'm answering this since this guy tweets me about this topic like a single-issue voter, the last of which came after Dominique Steele's slam of The Other Dong Hyun Kim in South Korea. The goal of a slam isn't specifically to drop someone on the back of their head. Sometimes it happens that way, just like sometimes a punch lands to the back of the head which isn't intended there. Sometimes illegal blows to the back of the head are even called, too, like when Nate Marquardt was docked two points against Thales Leites at UFC 85, turning what would have been a win into a loss and a middleweight title shot for Leites. Anyway, the big picture here is that there's grey area involved with slams and there are definitely times you wince and hope for the best when you see someone get picked up and taken for a ride. But in and of itself there's nothing illegal about the move.

Who'll lose?

@Dr_Kwame: Who has a greater chance of losing their belt, Aldo, Weidman, dos Anjos?

I was asked a similar question about a month ago, and at the time, I blithely dismissed the notion Holly Holm could defeat Ronda Rousey while jumping ahead to the rest of the title-fight slate. Anyway, you know how that first panned out, so I'm done on making these type of picks. Maybe all three will keep their belts. Maybe all three will lose. We'll find out.

@MorganWaltzUFC: We have 3 awesome title fights this month! Do you see any of those titles being wrapped around a new waist?

@kopxpert There'll be 3 title fights in the next 2 weeks and none of the 3 current champs will lose their belt. Agree?

Alright, alright, I tap! I mean, I don't know that I'd play a parlay on all three champions keeping their belts. I mean, for one thing, Aldo, for all the praise rightly sent his way, hasn't fought in 14 months and has defended his title once in nearly two years. How sharp will he be against a guy in McGregor who comes at you from odd angles and can hit like a truck? And Weidman vs. Rockhold, because it's being overshadowed by Aldo-McGregor, is a solid a clear-cut, No. 1 vs. No. 2 in their divisions with both in their primes type title-fight we've seen in a long, long time. That can go either way. And when Donald Cerrone meets Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight title on Dec. 19, we'll be talking about a very different fight than their first one, as Cerrone blah blah blah and RDA is coming off knee surgery. Since you didn't ask me to specifically pick who, then I'll go ahead and leave it at, yeah, it's pretty likely someone's going to lose their belt over the next two weeks.