The Hidden Gems in a Stacked UFC Weekend
It’s finally here, arguably the biggest week in MMA history.
UFC Fight Night 90 on Thursday, The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on Friday and UFC 200 on Saturday.
And while I’m not one who often dwells on the all-powerful Ultimate Fighting Championship, I do recognize that there are some spectacular matchups that will take place.
But where a casual fan sees a few good fights, a well-seasoned spectator (if I may call myself that) eyes a number of over looked fights and sees them for what they really are. Gold.
Simply put, I’m here to suggest to you, the reader, to open your eyes just a tad bit wider and take in all this week has to offer. That includes some of the lesser hyped fights.
It’s easy to get stuck on the fact that Brock Lesnar is making his return, or that Miesha Tate will be defending her women’s bantamweight belt for the first time.
It is a lot harder to recognize that the UFC 200 fight between Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez puts together two veterans who have a combined total of 43 fights with the promotion. And that fight can only be seen on the UFC Fight Pass prelims. Crazy.
Basically what I’m trying to say – or rather type – is that a fight fan this upcoming week shouldn’t exhaust all their energy on just the main four or five fights. Savor the lesser hyped fights first. You can enjoy your dessert afterwards.
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Rafael dos Anjos vs Eddie Alvarez
It is very rare that a title fight gets overlooked. With three belts up for grabs at UFC 200 and a grudge match with a title on the line at the TUF Finale, that is exactly what has happened here. Sadly that means very few people realize Eddie Alvarez has the chance to make history on Thursday as the first fighter ever to hold belts in both Bellator and the UFC. To do that he has to defeat Rafael dos Anjos, a champion who destroyed Anthony Pettis to earn the very title he will be defending. Dos Anjos is 9-1 in his last ten fights with Alvarez just a step behind him at 8-2. This, the first of three main events this weekend, could steal the show.
Will Brooks vs Ross Pearson
Speaking of Bellator champions, Will Brooks will be making his promotional debut on Friday against grizzled UFC veteran Ross Pearson. With most of the focus on this card having to do with this season of TUF, Brooks versus Pearson – a fight that could prove vital to the future of the UFC lightweight division – has been virtually ignored. Brooks style has proved boring at times, but there is no doubt that he will want to live up to expectations. Pearson, in his usual fashion, will more than likely be willing to play spoiler.
Gegard Mousasi vs Thiago Santos
In a contest that wasn’t even on the UFC 200 fight card a few weeks ago, MMA veteran Gegard Mousasi will take on late replacement Thiago Santos. Mousasi has fought for the best promotions in the world since the beginning of his career. This includes: Strikeforce, DREAM, K-1, PRIDE and M-1. He is also the eighth ranked middleweight according to the UFC’s ranking system. Santos on the other hand is taking the fight on short notice and looking to extend his four fight win streak. Three of those four wins came by way of KO or TKO. Any fight that features two fighters such as these deserves your attention.
Julianna Pena vs Cat Zingano
Finally, in what I believe is the most intriguing bout of the weekend, Julianna Pena will take on former title challenger Cat Zingano for what is most likely a number one contender spot for the women’s bantamweight strap. Both women are coming off of long layoffs for different reasons and feel they have something to prove. Zingano’s only loss came at the hands of Ronda Rousey and Pena has been on fire ever since her stint on TUF. Despite all of this, this fight is only a UFC 200 prelim.