By Adam Martin
With three UFC cards this week featuring five title fights -- including three championship bouts scheduled for Saturday night’s incredible UFC 200 offering -- it’s not hard to see why some of the best fights this weekend aren’t getting the love they deserve.
There are 35 fights coming up, which means 70 fighters will put their bodies and brains on the line inside the Octagon. All of the fights deserve to be talked about, but for the purposes of this piece, here are five fights that are flying under the radar that you need to watch this weekend:
Mike Pyle vs. Alberto Mina, UFC Fight Night 90
One of the best fights of the week that no one is talking about is this welterweight matchup between Pyle and Mina at Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 90 event. At 40, Pyle is one of the oldest fighters in the UFC, but every time he’s counted out he proves again that he’s still a capable fighter. Mina, who is no spring chicken himself at 34, only has a few fights in the UFC, but every fight he’s been in has been a lot of fun to watch. Both these guys are aggressive strikers on the feet who have tremendous ground games, which should make for an amazing fight.
Doo Ho Choi vs. Thiago Tavares, TUF 23 Finale
One of the UFC’s top featherweight prospects will finally get a step up in competition as Choi takes on the veteran Tavares on Friday night at the TUF 23 Finale. Choi has dealt with numerous injuries in his young career, but when he has actually fought, we’ve seen the devastating power he possesses in his small frame. Tavares is a guy who has fought in the UFC for nearly a decade, but he’s never been able to get into the top 10, instead settling in as a gatekeeper. Choi is a tremendous striker, but Tavares knows how to grapple, and that dynamic should make for an interesting bout.
This is good matchmaking here. Pearson has fought in the UFC forever, but he’s a gatekeeper at this point of his career. Enter Brooks, the former Bellator lightweight champion. It was smart of the UFC not to throw Brooks into the deep end right away, but at the same time give him a challenge. Brooks is an amazing wrestler, but Pearson has really good boxing, which should make for an intriguing matchup and a good test to see where both men fit in the UFC lightweight division.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Thiago Santos, UFC 200
extremely hard. There are going to be a few upsets this weekend, and this could definitely be one of them.
Jim Miller vs. Takanori Gomi, UFC 200
This lightweight battle between two longtime veterans of the Octagon opens up the stacked UFC 200 card, so it’s easy to see why it’s been lost in the shuffle. Furthermore, both Miller and Gomi are coming off of two-straight losses, and both men are nearing the ends of their careers, so those are more knocks against them. But you know what? This is still a really fun fight between two men who have spent their lives entertaining MMA fans. Miller, a grappler, has 22 fights in the Octagon, and Gomi, a striker, has 10, plus numerous fights in PRIDE. Neither has been a UFC champion, but both men have put on some memorable bouts for the fans, and this one has the potential to be a sleeper “Fight of the Night” candidate on a card full of them.
UFC Fight Night 90: Dos Anjos vs. Alvarez takes place on July 7, 2016 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale: Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia takes place on July 8, 2016 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
UFC 200: Tate vs. Nunes (formerly UFC 200: Cormier vs. Jones 2, UFC 200: Lesnar vs. Hunt) takes place on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.