As winter ends and spring approaches the MMA community can look forward to a plethora of great fights. The first two months of 2012 have been both busy and entertaining, culminating with the thrilling main event of the UFC on FX 2 in addition to the show’s excellent 125-pound pairings. If Thiago Alves-Kampmann doesn’t sum up the meaning of MMA I don’t know what does. No matter how close you are to losing there is always an opportunity to turn things around and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
If Alves-Kampmann wasn’t thrilling enough then the introduction of the flyweights had to get your attention. Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall laid it all on the line for fifteen minutes and were it not for a scoring error fans would have gotten to witness the first ever “sudden victory” round during a live UFC event. Fans and both of these great fighters were robbed, but the UFC will more than make up for it given some of the action to come. Let’s take a look forward and see what lies ahead in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
For this particular article I am only going to cover the UFC. The next installment will go over what they have going on in May, as well as feature the fantastic fights that Bellator has lined up in April including the Eddie Alvarez-Shinya Aoki rematch.
Papy Abedi vs. James Head – UFC on Fuel TV 2:
Abedi headed into his UFC 138 match-up against former welterweight contender Alves undefeated in eight bouts. I realize he was choked out, but he was making his debut at 170 pounds and there was something about him that caught my attention. I could be totally wrong, but I have a feeling we will see some special things from the Zaire native. Head also lost his UFC debut back in June at UFC 131 against Nick Ring though he had tasted defeat before. With seven finishes in his eight wins I am looking for Abedi to make a statement here.
It should also be said the bout between Alexander Gustafsson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira would have made the cut though Nogueira has since been replaced due to injury.
Michael McDonald vs. Miguel Torres – UFC 145:
Torres is back in the UFC after being fired for a few weeks based on some outlandish remarks he made via Twitter. Torres does not appear to be the same fighter he was when he was the WEC bantamweight champ, or maybe it’s just the fact that the competition has gotten that much better. Case in point with McDonald, the 21-year-old has won his last seven fights and looks better in each one of them. This could be his breakout fight and vault him towards title contention. Then again, perhaps it’ll be Torres who has a rebirth and makes a run towards the top of the division. Either way it’ll be fun to watch.
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills – UFC 145:
MacDonald is the future of the UFC welterweight division. The man has one loss and that was to current UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit. He trains alongside Georges St. Pierre and, similarly to his friend/mentor, has been steamrolling over his opponents. Who can forget the way he manhandled Nate Diaz at UFC 129? The sky is the limit for the British Columbia native. Meanwhile, Mills is on a five-fight winning streak and won his UFC debut against Chris Cope at UFC 138. No disrespect to Mills, but this is MacDonald’s fight all the way. I would expect to see Rory in title contention by the spring of next year.
Matt Brown vs. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson – UFC 145:
Thompson certainly lived up to his hype at UFC 143. He nearly kicked Dan Stittgen’s head off with what he calls “The Moneymaker,” and earned himself the Knockout of the Night bonus in his UFC debut (lending credit to the move’s nickname). Firas Zahabi and GSP both have said Thompson has the best striking of anyone in combat sports. However, don’t sleep on his ground game as his brother-in-law is former world masters champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Carlos Machado. Brown is definitely a step up in competition, but his striking is nowhere near the level of Thompson’s and his ground game is not evolved enough to the point where he could possibly try and take advantage of Thompson’s inexperience on the ground. In my opinion, another breakout performance for Thompson is in store for the fans in Atlanta.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans – UFC 145:
This one has been in the works for over a year, though after speaking to Evans I know he is tired of the talking and ready to get inside the Octagon to fight. Jones has looked unbeatable and up until this point no one has even hurt him. Lyoto Machida landed a nice punch in the first round of their UFC 140 bout, but all that seemed to do was wake up a sleeping giant.
Evans is coming off of wins against Tito Ortiz at UFC 133 and the previously undefeated Phil Davis in January at UFC on Fox 2. Not many are giving this former champion a chance simply because no other fighter has been able to break “Bones”, but don’t sleep on Evans. He is a very proud man and feels he was wronged by not only Jones but by former trainer Greg Jackson as well. I think this fight will be the first time that we see Jones with his back against the wall and in some trouble. I’m not saying Evans will win, but rest assured he will gain some payback come April 21 in Atlanta, the very place where he knocked Chuck Liddell out cold.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC