10. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic (UFC on FOX 10 – January 25)
Strange as it may sound, Gonzaga-Miocic should have a sizeable impact on the contendership picture at heavyweight. “Napao” is 4-1 since returning to the UFC last year including first frame knockouts in his last two tilts, while Miocic is coming off a decision win over Roy Nelson and was 9-0 prior to his lone defeat. Fans should end up getting a solid dose of stand-up and a finish come UFC on FOX 10 and that’s certainly okay by me!
9. Nogueira Brothers Returning to the Ring by Mid-2014
Brazilian manager extraordinaire Ed Soares recently stated both Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira were aiming to fight again by summer of next year. Personally, I won’t be holding my breath on either account. There’s no question the Nogueiras have contributed a ton to MMA over the past decade and are among the best fighters the sport has ever seen. However, they’re broken down at this point and only good for 1-2 appearances a year max. At 37 and injury-plagued, it’s time for the iconic twins to start considering retirement.
8. Josh Thomson Calls Benson Henderson a Bigger Test than Anthony Pettis
For those who missed it, Pettis tapped out Henderson in the opening round of their August effort. Regardless, Thomson still feels “Bendo” is the bigger threat between the two and expects a tougher fight when he faces him in January than would have been the case if Pettis hadn’t pulled out of their pairing with an injury. At first glance, Thomson’s sanity would likely be questioned but his logic actually makes sense. According to Thomson, Henderson’s ability to grind opponents down on the ground and in the clinch is more difficult to deal with than the flashy striking the champion is known for. Plus, Henderson has solid hands and uses his kicks well, so he’s got multiple attacks to work with making prep for him harder than might be the case with someone more limited in approach.
7. Brad Tavares vs. Lorenzo Larkin (UFC Fight Night 35 – January 15)
Okay, so the announcement of Tavares-Larkin probably didn’t get anyone’s heartbeat racing. That being said, it should make for an entertaining effort. Tavares (11-1) has quietly strung together a quartet of consecutive wins, while the 14-1 Larkin’s stand-up is exceptional and he’s looked good in nearly all of his bouts. It’s not a headliner by any means but the clash should be competitive and result in the winner receiving a Top 10 opponent in his next match-up.
6. Georges St-Pierre’s Mentor Demands Retirement for Continued Support
UFC fans may not want to see GSP hang up his gloves for good but there’s at least one person who does – Kristof Midoux. Midoux has been St-Pierre’s mentor since the start of the champion’s career and is a consistent presence in his corner come fight-time. However, according to Midoux, he will no longer involve himself with St-Pierre’s career if “Rush” decides to return to the ring. To paraphrase Midoux’s point, watching St-Pierre take damage has become increasingly difficult and he wants to see his protégé move on to the next phase of his life. It’s easy to understand where Midoux is coming from as someone who has a personal investment in St-Pierre’s well-being, and he’s right in that there’s little left for GSP to prove. Still, until he clearly defeats Johny Hendricks there will always be an asterisk on his career, so St-Pierre should at least consider one final fight before riding off into the Montreal sunset.
5. Rory MacDonald is Glad He Lost
It might sound strange to hear, but “Ares” is actually happy he came up short against Robbie Lawler when they locked horns at UFC 167. Though the defeat snapped five-fight winning streak for MacDonald, it also snapped him back to reality by his own admission. From MacDonald’s perspective, he’d grown somewhat complacent based on the amount of success he’d experienced at such a young age. Now, with the fire in his gut rekindled, he’s out for blood and more motivated than he’s been in a long time. There aren’t many “good” losses but it seems MacDonald’s may be an exception similarly to his mentor Georges St-Pierre’s stumble against Matt Serra in 2007m also his last defeat.
4. Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy?
All signs seem to be pointing to an eventual bout between Bisping-Kennedy and you won’t hear any complaints here. Both men are in similar spots as far as divisional standing and there’s already a personal feud between the two serving as a storyline to help sell the showdown. Stylistically, it should be a good scrap too. Bisping is a better striker in terms of precision/volume, but Kennedy has more power and superior grappling.
3. Rousimar Palhares Signs with WSOF
Former UFC middleweight/welterweight Palhares found a new home this week when World Series of Fighting scooped him up. The signing makes a lot of sense for both parties. It gave WSOF a recognizable fighter with plenty of miles left to go to help bolster their roster, as well as Palhares an opportunity to face a high-profile opponent or two on NBC Sports and leave without the headaches of a Bellator deal. Also, it provides Palhares with a chance to redeem himself on a big stage after (once again) holding on to a submission for too long as was the case in his last UFC appearance.
2. Jon Jones Wants Collision with Cain Velasquez
Two words – YES PLEASE! The number of legitimate superfights out there is few and far between but Jones-Velasquez absolutely fits the bill. Currently, both men are at the top of their respective divisions and have showed no signs of slowing down. Additionally, Jones has the right physical frame to fight at heavyweight so long as he packs on some muscle, while Velasquez is an undersized big man who wins based on technique rather than brute force. While there’s an above-average chance at least one of the two will lose before Jones makes his move up from 205 pounds, neither will see a steep enough decline before then to make the match-up any less interesting.
1. TUF 18 Finale Pre-Event Hype
To be quite honest, this weekend’s lineup for the Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale leaves a lot to be desired. Outside of the headliner between Gray Maynard-Nate Diaz, there aren’t many match-ups to draw average fans in. Additionally, the male final features one participant who didn’t even have to throw down in the semis after his opponent missed weight. Fortunately, the female final should be a bit better, plus it’s hard to hate on Roxanne Modafferi making an appearance in the Octagon. In short, the show is worth tuning into but not so much you’ll be kicking yourself if you have other plans and forgo the festivities.
Welcome back to the 10-Point Must! Every week I’ll give my thoughts on ten topics from the past seven days with hopes the readership will contribute their takes as well in the Comments section. This time around, subjects range from new match-ups to rumored rumbles to a few fighters making questionable comments (and of course a quick look ahead to the Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale). (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)
Front-Page Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport
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