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Five fights to watch in May

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This weekend’s slow, but May will pick up in a hurry, beginning with the stacked UFC 211 in Dallas. Here are five fights worth your time this month:

Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos, UFC 211, May 13, Dallas, PPV

The last time Miocic and dos Santos squared off, at UFC on FOX 13 in Phoenix in Dec. 2014, the duo put on one of the most hard-hitting 25-minute spectacles you’ll ever see, with both guys giving and getting before dos Santos won a unanimous decision. Since then? Miocic (16-2) regrouped and has registered four straight knockouts, including his finish of Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 to claim the UFC heavyweight title. Dos Santos (18-4), for his part, was out a year after the Miocic fight, was knocked out by Alistair Overeem in his return, then looked dominant in a decision win over Ben Rothwell last April. The stars have aligned for the rematch, with Miocic looking to avenge his only loss since 2012 and Dos Santos looks to become the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold the heavyweight title twice.

UFC 197 Photos
Yair Rodriguez is ready for his biggest career test in Frankie Edgar.

Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez, UFC 211, May 13, Dallas, PPV

Okay, let’s state the obvious here: We could have made this “Five Fights to Watch at UFC 211” and still left off worthy fights from what’s thus far the most loaded event of 2017. So, with all due respect to everything from Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade to Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier, we’re going to cap this at two so we can get around to some other cards on the docket this month. In this case, we’ve got your classic matchup of a veteran former champion looking to maintain his turf near the top of the division vs. a fighter who very well might be The Next One seeking his biggest career challenge. The tough-as-nails Edgar (21-5-1) has won six of seven, including a victory over Jeremy Stephens at UFC 205 in his last outing. The flashy Rodriguez (10-1) demolished B.J. Penn for his eighth straight win in January. The winner is likely next in line for the winner of the Jose Aldo-Max Holloway featherweight title unification match at UFC 212. What’s not to love about this fight?

Bellator 170 photos
Paul Daley will look to follow up on one of the year’s most memorable knockouts.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Paul Daley vs. Rory MacDonald, Bellator 179, May 19 Wembley Arena, London, Spike:

Don’t look now, but the Bellator welterweight division is the strongest weight class put together outside the UFC since the Strikeforce middleweight division. And there are few fights in the division more intriguing than the Bellator 179 main event. MacDonald (18-4) is finally making his Bellator debut after signing with the company last summer, and doing so on his opponent’s home turf. Daley (39-14-2) has won six of his past seven fights and has a leading contender for Knockout of the Year with his vicious flying-knee finish of Brennan Ward at Bellator 170. With Lorenz Larkin challenging Douglas Lima for the welterweight title at Bellator 180, Daley-MacDonald could be considered the front end of a welterweight tournament of sorts.

Ben Nuemann vs. Derrick Krantz, LFA 12, May 19, Prior Lake, Minn., AXS-TV

Legacy Fighting Alliance will crown its first welterweight champion in the main event of its May 19 card. Wisconsin’s Nuemann (12-4) made his name in RFA before the company merged with LFC to create the current LFA. He’s won three straight and seven of eight, with all seven wins via finish, including six submissions. Texas’ Krantz (19-9), meanwhile, is the former LFC welterweight champ and has won two straight and five of his past six.

Vanessa Porto vs. Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, Invicta FC 23, May 20, Kansas City, UFC Fight Pass

It’s a flyweight-heavy card at the Scottish Rite Temple, with three of the top five bouts being contested at 125 pounds. The card is headlined by Brazil’s Porto (18-7), who goes back down to 125 after going the distance with then-bantamweight champion Jennifer Maia in her last fight. Porto’s looking for her fourth win in her past five fights, but it won’t be easy against the hard-hitting 22-year-old from Poland, who is looking to add her name to the list of great Eastern European women’s fighters. Nieszwiedz (9-0) has seven finishes among her nine wins, including a third-round TKO of Samara Santos Kunha in the main event of LFN 4 in Poland in December in her last bout.