By Raphael Garcia
When April 14th comes around and mixed martial arts fans tune in to watch the UFC on Fuel TV 2 it will have been six weeks since many of them have consumed MMA in any form or fashion. Even though Bellator has been putting strong fights on MTV2, many people are not even aware or concerned with their product, even if they are missing some great action. Now that the break is over, let’s take a moment to look at five reasons to get excited about what’s coming up in mixed martial arts:
UFC 145: Finally All The Talk Has To Cease
Jon Jones and Rashad Evans have been talking for a long time; even before UFC 145 was planned. We’ve seen Evans tweet pictures of his former training partner in peculiar clothing, while Jones has tried to convince us that he’s not the same fighter and much improved from the time when he used to train Evans. Either way we have reached the moment where all the talking has to stop, and both fighters must step forward to prove their point. Evans is one of the few individuals left in the light heavyweight division that Jones has not been able to walk through. With a victory, Jones can cement himself into a position of dominance over the 205-pound weight class, which is something we have not seen in some time. However, if Evans can pull off what some consider an upset; this rivalry will have the potential to ignite the division that may become stagnant after this matchup.
UFC 146: Heavyweight Night At The MGM Grand
It’s often expected that big men will produce big knockouts, and if that stands true, UFC 146 will give fight fans a string of highlights for their pleasure. Headlined by two of the best strikers in the sport -- Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos -- this event will determine which of these will emerge as the UFC heavyweight champion. Along with these two individuals, we will get to see Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez fight it out to determine the next number one contender to the title. Gabriel Gonzaga, Antonio Silva, Roy Nelson, Shane del Rosario, Mark Hunt, and Stefan Struve are all set to appear on the card as well. This event has the ability to set the tone for the largest men in the Octagon as the hype for their weight class has begun to wane over the last few years.
Aoki versus Alvarez: Biggest Lightweight Bout Outside Of Zuffa
This may be one of the most important fights that Bellator has put on in recent memory. Two of the top lightweights in the division across MMA are set to face off when Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki meet on April 20th. Alvarez was stopped by Aoki’s grappling game three years ago, and he has been pushing for this rematch since then. What is very important is how Bellator treats the fighter who wins this matchup. The organization uses its tournament format to create contenders, but with such big names facing off, it will be interesting to see if matchmakers will forgo that option and give the winner a matchup against Michael Chandler.
UFC on Fox 3: Big Night Of Fights On Free Television
UFC on Fox 3 has the potential to be a great night for the UFC, as some big matchups will go down on free television. The main event pits Nate Diaz against Jim Miller in what will go a long way towards pushing the winner into title contention at 155 pounds. Before that, fans will get to see Johny Hendricks, as he tries to prove that he is a true contender at 170 pounds, and his victory over Jon Fitch was not a fluke. Standing in his way will be Fitch’s close friend and former teammate Josh Koscheck, who has been a big name at 170 pounds for years. Heavyweight sluggers Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry are paired off in a fight that is hard to see going the full fifteen minutes. Rousimar Palhares and Alan Belcher face off in a middleweight tilt that can become a momentum builder for either man who pulls out the victory. Other fights feature names such as John Dodson and John Cholish, among others, in a night that has the potential to go a long way towards increasing the UFC’s exposure through Fox.
Askren versus Lima: A True Test For The Rising Star
A lot of questions swirl around Ben Askren and how good a fighter he can become. There isn’t any doubt that the former NCAA champion has the abilities to win, but many feel he has not been tested by the best fighters available. Douglas Lima is an interesting fight for the current welterweight champion, and an opportunity for Askren to stake his claim as the most important fighter for Bellator. With Alvarez and Hector Lombard’s contracts near the end, he can easily become the face of an organization that is in need of a personality to build upon.
Mixed martial arts didn’t take time off, but without the UFC putting on an event for six weeks, some are looking forward to the first big fight cards of the spring. MMA surely will not disappoint, as the action will start on April 14th and continue through the rest of the year.
April 9, 2012
By Raphael Garcia