15 UFC Fights to Watch in December 2013
By Brendhan Conlan on November 30, 2013
Takeya Mizugaki (18-7-2) vs. Nam Phan (18-11) – UFC Fight Night 33
Mizugaki is on a three-fight winning streak and has a polished arsenal of technique. The always-tough Pham is dropping down to 135 pounds in hopes of finding some consistency. Expect furious scrambles, slick stand-up exchanges, and neither man to back down.
Pat Barry (8-6) vs. Soa Palelei (19-3) – UFC Fight Night 33
Who doesn’t enjoy watching Barry employ his brand of charismatic chaos in the Octagon? Still, Palelei is no pushover. He’ll have a home-field advantage, as well as the momentum of a nine-fight winning streak behind him and finishes in all nineteen of his instances of success. Basically, the first man to connect will emerge with his hand raised, and there's nothing wrong with that!
Mauricio Rua (21-8) vs. James Te Huna (16-6) – UFC Fight Night 33
It’s time for “Shogun” to show fans he still has gas left in the tank despite only being 32 years old. He’s on a two-fight slide, but seemingly should be one of the most dangerous competitors in the light heavyweight division. Te Huna is heavy-handed and has a lot of heart so look for him to push Rua from start to finish.
Antonio Silva (18-5) vs. Mark Hunt (9-8) – UFC Fight Night 33
If you like knockouts then you undoubtedly LOVE the UFC Fight Night 33 headliner between “Bigfoot” and Hunt. Both men are powerful punchers with plenty of strike-based stoppages notched on their records. The effort should also be intriguing based on the six-inch height advantage Silva will have on the stocky, cement-fisted Kiwi.
Joe Lauzon (22-9) vs. Mac Danzig (21-11-1) – UFC on FOX 9
While Lauzon and Danzig are both coming off back-to-back losses, don’t mistake their recent stumbles with the inability to fight. Lauzon is tied with Anderson Silva for the most performance-based bonuses in UFC history and has finished every opponent he’s beaten. Comparably, Danzig is an Ultimate Fighter winner with some impressive showings in the ring and 15 stoppages to boot. Look for both competitors to come out aggressive in hopes of not only entertaining fans but approaching action with a sense of urgency based on the legitimate need each has for a victory.
John Dodson (15-6) vs. Scott Jorgensen (14-7) – UFC on FOX 9
Flyweights have overwhelmingly entertained in the Octagon and Dodson/Jorgensen will be no exception. Dodson is arguably the #3 125er on the roster behind champ Demetrious Johnson and top contender Joseph Benavidez, while Jorgensen is a seasoned bantamweight making his 125-pound debut. The bout will be fast-paced, full of energy, and likely to feature a number of heated stand-up exchanges.
Chad Mendes (15-1) vs. Nik Lentz (24-5-2) – UFC on FOX 9
There’s a good chance the winner of this tilt will emerge with a title-shot. Mendes has been on fire since falling to champ Jose Aldo with a quartet of consecutive knockouts including three finishes in the first frame and a stoppage of Clay Guida. Meanwhile, Lentz has picked up wins in three straight showdowns since moving down from lightweight and could give Mendes fits on the mat.
Carlos Condit (29-7) vs. Matt Brown (18-11) – UFC on FOX 9
This bout has a “backyard brawl” feel to it based on both fighters’ love of stand-up and attitude in terms of openly embracing the physicality of MMA. Brown is the welterweight division’s hottest fighter outside of king Georges St-Pierre with six straight victories, though he lacks the type of signature win success over Condit would bring. On the flipside, Condit is coming off a gutsy finish of Martin Kampmann and could immediately insert himself back into the contendership discussion with an impressive performance. Their bout is going to be bloody, brutal, and downright beautiful!
Urijah Faber (29-6) vs. Michael McDonald (16-2) – UFC on FOX 9
Years ago, McDonald was an up-and-coming competitor who idolized Faber. Now he has a chance to knock “The California Kid” off his pedestal. Faber has looked excellent en route to victory over a three-fight run, while McDonald bounced back from a loss to Renan Barao by finishing Brad Pickett in August. This tilt truly represents “old school” vs. “new school” and should be a “Fight of the Night” contender by the end of things.
Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1) vs. Joseph Benavidez (19-3) – UFC on FOX 9
It’s always nice to see a free title-fight. Throw in the fact it involves the #1/#2 competitors in a division and things become even more appealing. Mix in a hotly-contested previous meeting that went to a five-round Split Decision and you’ve got a recipe for greatness! Fortunately, all those things come into play in terms of the UFC on FOX 9 main event between Johnson and Benavidez, so needless to say a potential classic could very well emerge on FOX in a few weeks.
Dustin Poirier (14-3) vs. Diego Brandao (18-8) – UFC 168
There’s a lot to love about Poirier-Brandao. Both are well-rounded, dangerous, and have the talent to eventually challenge for a championship. However, their styles aren’t similar in the least bit. Brandao likes to wing punches, emulating Wanderlei Silva to an extent, while Poirier is aggressive but picks opponents apart rather than goes all-in for the knockout. It’s an exciting fight on paper and should play out as such in the cage as well.
Uriah Hall (7-4) vs. Chris Leben (22-10) – UFC 168
Hall looked amazing on TUF 17, though he's been anything but that since the show, turning in tentative showings in both of his Octagon appearances. He won’t have a chance to play it safe against “The Crippler” who is at the tail end of his career but still comes seeking blood in every bout. Leben has the power to put Hall to sleep, but also leaves enough openings in his attack to give Hall an opportunity to finish him in spectacular fashion if he loosens up enough to flow in the fight.
Josh Barnett (33-6) vs. Travis Browne (15-1-1) – UFC 168
The bout between Browne and Barnett could easily headline a different show. Luckily, since the UFC loves to end the year on a high note, UFC 168 is stacked and thus it has been relegated to status as a “featured fight”. Barnett is a widely-respected veteran who has been competing at a high level for more than a decade. He has above average striking and some of the best grappling in the division. Of course, Browne is a beast as well, standing 6’7” with knockouts of Gabriel Gonzaga and Alistair Overeem in his last two tilts. Odds are good a finish will come into play and subsequently a lot of smiles from fans tuning in to catch the clash.
Ronda Rousey (7-0) vs. Miesha Tate (13-4) – UFC 168
Rousey and Tate will both be on hand tonight at the Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale given their coaching roles on the recently-wrapped season. The heat between the two budding in early 2012 before an encounter in Strikeforce hasn’t died down any since each signed with the UFC and was on full display during TUF 18. Rousey is on record as saying she plans to severely injure Tate’s arm if she has an opportunity to as a means of humbling her rival, while Tate is certain her overall ability will make the difference and has some added confidence going into the match-up after apparently getting into Rousey’s head during TUF taping.
Chris Weidman (10-0) vs. Anderson Silva (33-5) – UFC 168
The stakes are higher than ever for Silva coming into UFC 168. The former middleweight champion, who most feel is the greatest fighter to ever grace the Octagon, was knocked out cold by Weidman when they collided in July after an ill-fated decision to drop his hands and showboat. If “The Spider” can avenge the defeat, it will further solidify his legend. If he falls again, there’s a good chance the 38-year old Silva will consider retirement.
The UFC will end November 2013 with a bang tonight thanks to the Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale. However, the card hardly compares to the lineups on tap for December with a particular emphasis on those for UFC on FOX 9 (12/14) and UFC 168 (12/28). The month also features the organization’s latest stop in Australia, UFC Fight Night 33 (12/6), meaning fans have yet another option to choose from when it comes to action in the coming weeks. Check out the fifteen best fights on the immediate horizon… (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)
Front-Page Photo Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
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