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Five fights to watch in June

UFC 200 photos

We don’t waste much time kicking off the June fight schedule, as Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Max Holloway on the 3rd, on paper, is as awesome a fight as any we’ve had all year. But that’s far from the only fight of note this month, so likewise, let’s not waste any more time getting into it ...

Curtis Millender vs. Kevin Holland, LFA 13, Burbank, Calif., June 2, AXS-TV

AXS kicks off its June fight slate with an interesting welterweight matchup. Millender (10-3), of San Bernardino, Calif., has won three of his past four fights. Last time out, he scored a TKO win over Johnny Cisneros at Bellator 170. Texas’ Holland (8-2), meanwhile, has been making a name for himself on the regional circuits. The 24-year-old prospect brings a five-fight win streak into his biggest career test and LFA debut, with finishes in all five bouts.

Max Holloway
Max Holloway has taken the mantle of Hawaii’s most popular fighter.

Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway, UFC 212, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 3, PPV

There’s life after Conor McGregor in the UFC featherweight division after all, as one of the best on-paper fights of the year clears up the title picture once and for all. Aldo, who was WEC/UFC featherweight champion for six years, rebounded from his knockout loss to McGregor in 2015 with a superlative performance in winning a decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. That was an interim featherweight title bout, and he was promoted to the full championship when McGregor was stripped of the lightweight bout. Holloway, meanwhile, won an interim belt of his own with a finish of Anthony Pettis at UFC 206, which was his 10th consecutive win. While you can question the legitimacy of the championship, there’s little dispute this is a matchup between the great champion in the division’s history against the fighter who seems best positioned to become the next great one at 145. Add in both fighters’ exciting finishing capabilities and this fight is one to mark on your calendar.

Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia, UFC Fight Night 111, Singapore, June 17, UFC Fight Pass

The UFC’s return to Asia is headlined by what amounts to a fight over who will remain a major factor in the bantamweight division. Holm (10-3), the former champion, has dropped three straight fights. But that included her fifth-round submission loss to the title to Miesha Tate in a fight she had been winning, and her highly controversial UFC 208 loss to Germaine de Randamie in a bout to determine the first UFC women’s featherweight champ. So it’s not like she’s been getting blown out in her fights. Correia (10-2-1), meanwhile, has slowly regained her footing since famously getting faceplanted by Ronda Rousey at UFC 190. She has a win over Jessica Eye and a majority draw with Manon Reneau in her past two bouts. A win over Holm would make her unbeaten in three and put a two-fight skid in her rear-view mirror once and for all.

UFC 195 fight photos
Lorenz Larkin debuts in Bellator after winning four of his last five UFC fights.
Esther Lin photo

Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin, Bellator NYC, New York City, June 24, PPV

There’s something for everyone on the first PPV of the Scott Coker Bellator era, from Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko to Matt Mitrione, and much-heralded prospect Aaron Pico’s debut. But perhaps the most intriguing matchup on the bill is the welterweight title fight between champion Lima and the debuting Larkin. Lima (28-6) is a two-time Bellator champion who has won seven of his past eight fights. For him, this represents an opportunity for validation on one of the sport’s biggest stages, Madison Square Garden. Larkin (18-5, 1 NC), meanwhile, enters Bellator with four wins in his past five fights, including back-to-back victories over Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny in his final two UFC bouts. Add in the notion the winner is likely to fight Rory MacDonald next, and you’ve got one of the most interesting storylines in the sport, regardless of promotion.

Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee, UFC Fight Night 112, Oklahoma City, June 25, FOX Sports 1

Forget about their corny brawl a few weeks back at the UFC Summer Kickoff press conference. This lightweight main event is worthy all on its own, without badly forced attempts at pro-wrestling histrionics. Chiesa (14-2) has won three in a row and five out of six, with three submission wins in that span. He’s also earned four postfight bonuses in the stretch. Lee (15-2) has won four straight, the last three via finish, and eight of nine. Both fighters have unsuccessfully tried to get the lightweight division’s biggest names to fight them, but the winner of this consequential matchup will be marked as a contender once and for all.

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