The Nine Most Intriguing Fights left in 2008

I don’t know about the rest of you, but having our sport’s popularity in the mainstream hinge on a 34-year old street fighter is downright depressing. And the fact that I have gone from people asking if I do that “ultimate fighting” stuff to people asking how fast Kimbo Slice could knock out Mike Tyson is enough to make me want to vomit on my Tapout bed sheets.

In an effort to cheer myself up I started to remind myself of all the awesome MMA in the coming months, with multiple fights having massive implications on the landscape of their respective divisions. The divisional rankings have the potential to be dramatically different between now and the beginning of 2009. Here are nine fights that in my opinion are “must-see” to the die-hard MMA fan. In no particular order……

Tyson Griffin vs. Sean Sherk (155lbs) – UFC 90 Silva vs. Cote
October 25 2008 – Rosemont Illinois

I haven’t been this excited for a lightweight battle in the UFC for a very long time. This is a battle between the two best conditioned athletes in the division. It will look like two Tasmanian devils on triple-shot café mochas. The entertainment value of this fight is already through the roof with just the talent level alone, but add in title shot implications and it just raised to drama level to Defcon 1 (which, means we actually had to lower the Defcon level as the drama level rose). This fight is an advertisement for the lightweight division as a whole, and if you are not a fan of the little guys yet, you will be after this one.

Thiago Alves vs. Diego Sanchez (170lbs) – UFC 90 Silva vs. Cote
October 25 2008 – Rosemont Illinois

Many people will argue that the welterweight division is the most talented in the world (in my opinion it’s the light heavyweight division, but no one ever asks me) and the UFC has a monopoly on it. This fight features two of the best with the winner getting a title shot and free denture work courtesy of the UFC champion Georges St Pierre. The most overused saying in all of MMA sadly applies here, as this is a classic matchup of striker versus grappler. Alves has evolved into a devastating striker and Sanchez seems to have found his ground-n-pound mojo again, making for an electric clash of styles. It is going to be a doozy!

Thales Leites vs. Goran Reljic (185lbs) – UFC 90 Silva vs. Cote
October 25 2008 – Rosemont Illinois

As with most athletic sports in the world, I believe there are levels of skill that separate one athlete from another. And there is nothing more enjoyable than watching new talent evolve and jump levels right before your eyes. This fight is a perfect example of two extremely talented fighters who are learning to put all aspects of their fight game together and jump to that next level. Leites has world class grappling while Reljic has shown CroCop-like striking which should combine for a fantastic ride. Both have championship caliber upside and with a win here are ready for a showdown with the elite of the middleweight division. Its going to be an interesting tug of war and I can’t wait to watch!

Luiz Cane vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (205lbs)– UFC 89 Bisping vs. Leben
October 18 2008 – Birmingham England

Just as with the fight above, this is a matchup of two talented guys with immense potential who are trying to learn how to put a complete performance together. Cane and Soku are both incredible strikers with knockout power so this promises to turn into a quick match. I doubt either of thses guys will see the third round of this fight, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Leonard Garcia vs. Jens Pulver (145lbs) – WEC 36 – Faber vs Brown
November 5 2008 – Hollywood, Florida

The WEC has turned into my guilty pleasure in life. I love to watch the smaller guys show off their skills on free TV. While Uriah Faber has proven to be the best in the world at 145lbs (Sorry Kid) the WEC has done a wonderful job of bringing in the best competition around to challenge him. These are two of the best. Pulver versus Garcia pits the two best brawlers at this weight in the same cage together, and fireworks will ensue. Garcia is an energizer bunny with incredible conditioning but has never faced knockout power like Pulver packs in his left hand. Should be an interesting matchup and one I am not going to miss!

Eddie Alvarez vs. Nick Diaz (160lbs) – EliteXC on Showtime
November 8 2008 – Reno, Nevada

The new kid on the block versus the volatile veteran in a battle for the lightweight title will make for a whirlwind battle. Alvarez is coming off of his fantastic Japanese run in the Dream tournament and Diaz is rolling by winning seven out of his last eight fights if you include his win over Takanori Gomi (and I do). Diaz likes to bang on the feet but Alvarez may prove to be too much for him. If Diaz can take this to the ground he way finally have that belt he so desperately desires. But Alvarez is on an unbelievable roll, and his wrestling might be just enough to steal another decision away from Diaz. Should be a good one!

Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar (265lbs) – Couture vs. Lesnar UFC 91
November 15 2008 Las Vegas, Nevada

The only main event on my list for obvious reasons. So many sub-plots running here that it will be hard to keep up with everything. Is it too soon for Brock to have this fight? Is the big layoff from action to much for Randy? How will Brock handle actually being punched in the face? Will Brock’s size be too much for Randy to control? These and many more questions will be answered that night. The winner gets a shot at Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or Frank Mir and the undisputed title. I think its safe to say this is the biggest fight of the year hands down.

Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva (205lbs) – UFC 92
December 27 2008

Are you kidding me?? Do I need to even tell you why this is a huge fight?? This could be Wanderlei Silva versus Rampage Jackson 27 and I would be the first one there popcorn in hand. This fight is going to be all over the cage and non-stop action. This fight series may down as the greatest trilogy ever, even though it is one-sided so far. This is a must-see for everyone who loves this sport like I do!

37 COMMENTS
  • Robert says:

    I like many others am interested in seeing Couture vs. Lesnar the most with Alvarez vs. Diaz a close second.Not sure why the Sokoudjou fight is on here seems to me he wins this fight easy.

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  • laserline says:

    Cane is a devastating striker… could pose problems for Soko

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  • egad81 says:

    Forrest Not Defending this year???

    There are a few fights I really want to see happen this year and a Forrest LOSS is very close to the top

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  • skwirrl says:

    Alverez will spank Diaz simply because he’s not a complete can like Diaz’s last 3 opponents and he won’t spend his time getting as fat and out of shape as he

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  • skwirrl says:

    possibly can before the fight like Gomi did

    stupid touch-mouse…

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  • Davey D says:

    These are all great fight’s indeed. Silva vs. Jackson 3 is at the top of it for me. The HW tourney of Couture vs. Lesnar and Nogueira vs. Mir will be great to see. Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote is going to be an all out war, just watch and see.

    I am glad the WEC will return in November with such a great line up. They also have the event in December too. Cowboy Cerrone vs. Razor Rob and Manny Tapia vs. Miguel Torres should be on deck for that show.

    Speaking of good fight’s. I would like to see what would happen if Fedor vs. Minotauro 4 took place in the Octagon? Iceman vs. Cro Cop…anyone?

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  • Tdotted says:

    Love the list, but I think I might have made it the top ten and added the Nogeira vs Mir fight. I am pretty stoked to see that one. I guess a large part of it for me is that the winner collides with Couture vs Lesner winner.

    Also Florian vs Stevenson and Quarry vs Maia might be right up their on my list.

    If I had to disagree with one I might say the Sherk vs Griffin isn’t doing much for me as I feel it has all the makings of 3 rounds of lay and prey. I could be wrong but I can’t see either guy finishing the other.

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  • skwirrl says:

    They might not finish each other but I seriously doubt it will be three rounds of lay and pray. (Prey is what a mouse is to a hawk) Should be a high paced scramble match with alot of standup as neither guy will be able to control the ground throughly.

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  • Wookalar says:

    What about the Sanchez vs. Alves fight @ UFC 90? Between them they have only 6 losses in 48 bouts and both are interesting in the title picture.

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  • Unquestioned Answers says:

    What about Forrest and Rashad. Or is that the first part of next year. I cant remember. Either way, the UFC’s official year doesn’t really end until Super Bowl weekend. Also, Machida and Thiago Silva, and Chuck will fight one more time before the years over so that fight will be a make or break fight for Chuck, depending on how the UFC handles Chuck’s final few years of his career. Depending on what path they take with Chuck, it could be Chucks last shot at as a sure shot main eventer. There are a couple of fights, depending on if the UFC counts the SuperBowl as their year ender, like Matt Hughes/Matt Sera. That fight still means alot to me and alot of people i’ve talked to. Also any fight where Kenny Florian could possibly lose his number one contender status is important.

    P.S. This point is moot, even if the UFC year really doesn’t end until the Super Bowl weekend, but B.J. and GSP could be as big if not bigger than Randy/Lesner, since it’s supposed to be in Canada.

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  • JJ Docker says:

    Great article man, couldn’t agree more.
    Rampage will beat Silva.

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  • JJ Docker says:

    Great article man, couldn’t agree more.
    Rampage will beat Silva.

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  • Steve says:

    can’t wait to see these fights! very exciting stuff. hopefully randy puts lesnar in his place but thats a scary amount of size to deal with. And Wandy vs Rampage 3!!!! can you say “knee to the face” (in my best bas rutten voice)

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  • champ says:

    great article! hopefully the “kimbo” thing will be good for the sport of mma. although it seems like his 15 minutes are up. the couture -lesnar fight is my fight of the year. and didn’t silva already beat jackson like “to death” a few times??? super article man!

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  • Jack says:

    Thanks to this I can plan my fight calendar for the rest of 08. KImbo…You would think such a GREAT striker would have learned how to take a punch…please!!!. Jackson-Silva the thought alone makes me want to go smash somthin! Another great article NIck.Dude you really should win the the Pulitzer!!!!!! Keep it coming

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  • MMAEruption.com says:

    Alvarez is going to dominate Diaz.

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  • KTru says:

    I am guessing Nick means “end of the year” for exactly what the end of the year is……

    So throw out BJ vs. GSP II, Serra vs Hughes, Machida vs. Silva or any other fight post Jan 1, 2009. All remarkable fights but lets see what we have coming up. Forget Liddell about any fights from here to end of the year. I do not understand everyones infatuation about him anymore. He has lost 3 of 4 and should not be in any discussion about “Intriguing Fights”.

    Tyson and Sherk will be a war. Non stop action probably going to decision.
    Alves and Diego, a battle for 2nd place in WW after they lose GSP, and then fight Fitch.
    Soko and Cane, an action filled fight, but Cane will win. He should be undefeated but a b.s. call against Irvin squashed that.
    Garcia will continue the downfall of what is Pulver’s career.
    Eddie will knock out Nick, only for Nick to run out like an embarrassed baby and flip off the crowd again.
    Wandi vs. Rampage III, close fight, siding with Jackson. But Rampage will not run him over…….
    The biggest and best fight remaining this year, Couture and Lesnar. And to be quite honest……..I would not be surprised either way of the outcome.

    As I need to note:
    Do not always take my opinions and statements seriously

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  • Patrick says:

    Nobody mentioned Stevenson vs. Florian. I personally think that’s going to be one hell of an interesting fight.

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  • doughbizzle420 says:

    some great fights on that list but there are a couple more i am really looking foward 2. Some off you guys might get mad at me but i cant wait for the leben vs bisping fight leben is one of my favorite fighters and it promises to be a war. next the florian stevenson match might be one of the best fights of the year. (side bar does anyone know when clay guida will fight again that guy is always eciting.

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  • Nick Travaglini says:

    Doughbizzle420- If I am not mistaken there is a rumor that Clay Guida will fight Nate Diaz next. Not sure when.

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  • Joey says:

    Akiyama -Mousasi

    I’m crossing my fingers.

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  • Vee says:

    Hey Nick, I’m not trying to be Mr. Perfect-Writer or Grammar Guy, but I wanted to make you aware of the same mistake twice.
    “but Alvarez may prove to be to much for him.”
    “Is it to soon for Brock to have this fight?”

    Silva vs Jackson will be huge, there’s enough footage and legend to make this fight big.

    I like Griffin but I think Florian vs Stevenson will be better. I just want to know who will win the stand up in Sherk-Griffin. This fight may go to decision.

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  • keenan says:

    love this article… firstly, is there word on when machida silva will take place? or if?… hopefully rampage wins with a huge knockout, not because i like him better but because it will mean silva rampage 4!!! griffen sherk should be great i see a changing of the gaurd happening there and garcia pulver looks to be a down right srcap soooo stoked for that bout. not only is goran reljic disgusting on his feet like a lil crocop, but i beleuve he trained gracie jits as well this is one of the new guys im most excited about, cant wait till i dont have to hear about kimbo anymore

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  • Cathedron says:

    Good to see someone defend Wandy/Wampage 3. Rampage has evolved quite a bit, the cage favors his style, and Wandy hasn’t evolved as much as he should have; so I’m thinking Rampage will win this. Personally, I think the two of them should have a yearly showdown every December.

    Couture/Lesnar will be gigantic, no doubt. You’re right about all the questions that pop up with this fight. I would add that there will be a whole new set of questions raised once we see who wins this and the interim HW title. I hate to give so much credit to such a new fighter, but Brock is really making the HW division interesting.

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  • Sean says:

    Great Article and couldn’t agree more, but why 9 and not 10? And can you knees to the head!

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  • RJA says:

    some pretty awesome fights there,and looking foward to them but i’m a little suprised you didn’t mention franklin/hendo.Maybe it’s because i’m a big fan of franklin,but i think that should be up there.

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  • wilson says:

    Indeed…all of the forthcoming fights are exciting, except for Silva vs. Jackson. I think almost everyone would agree that this fight is gonna be Silva all the way. Silva has proven this 2 times when he defeated Jackson back in Pride.

    Even if Jackson (by some stroke of miracle), manages to pull a victory over Silva. The latter still enjoys two KO victories over the former.

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  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    #10-Bisping vs. Leben and/or Franklin vs. Henderson

    Guida vs. Diaz is rumoured for the TUF finale in Dec.? .
    Let’s hope it happens.

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  • Luc Aube says:

    LOL!!! @ This fight features two of the best with the winner getting a title shot and free denture work courtesy of the UFC champion Georges St Pierre

    Funniest line I have read in a long time.

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  • Bad Monkey says:

    A good list overall, but Sherk vs. Griffin?? C’mon dude. Two guys who can’t finish a fight AND can’t beat BJ Penn on their best day!! Sorry, but there had to be a better choice than this. What about Vera vs. Jardine? That fight will say a lot about what Vera is capable of doing at LHW and whether Jardine will be in the UFC much longer.

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  • nate says:

    Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva !!! I cant wait
    everyday is just another 24 hours I have to wait until they fight.

    I thought BJ Penn and GSP was this year, dec 27th, is that fight postponed?

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  • jason says:

    you forgot about the Faber vs Brown fight. mike brown has a good chance to win this onr

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  • KTru says:

    I do not understand that people here come in and have no idea of what the schedule is of upcoming events.

    BJ vs. GSP Jan 31, 2009
    Machida and Silva the same night
    Forrest is fighting before the end of the year against Evans (Dec 27)
    And BadMonkey….with the exception of you, the only people that are intrigued by Vera and Jardine are their mothers

    As I need to note:
    Do not always take my opinions and statements seriously

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  • katie says:

    GOOD LUCK EDDIE COME HOME WITH A BELT LOVE YA

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  • Brian says:

    I can’t really argue about 8 of those fights but the one I think that shouldn’t be there is Couture -V- Lesnar because it is 2 wrestlers against each other and sounds like a boring fight. I think the Quarry -V- Maia fight is more interesting because it will give us a chance to see if Maia is capable of being a middleweight champion and what sort of chin he has aswell

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  • Doughbizzle420 says:

    Randy Couture will knock out lesnar dont worry brian

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  • Robert says:

    I hope that Randy does win but i always wonder is this the fight where age does catch up with him he’s older than Shamrock.I mean the guy can’t go on forever 45 is old to compete at a high level in MMA.

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