Let me start off this blog by saying that if you’re not tuning into any of the events this week, then I’m pretty sure you’re not really an MMA fan! There’s something for everybody here!
The biggest UFC fight ever?December 10
So let’s start at the beginning…
UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. VanZant
This is a great card to start the trio of events off with – it puts a lot of emphasis on young and/or up and coming athletes. At the centre of all the hype is Paige Van Zant and Sage Northcutt (AKA Guile from Street Fighter) – but the hype is so far justified. There’s some real substance there, which is helped by their natural athleticism; you kind of get the impression that they could have taken up any sport and excelled at it. Luckily for us, they chose MMA. The UFC is obviously pushing them forward to represent the sport, which isn’t really a bad thing – good looking clean cut athletes who can deliver in the Octagon.
Elsewhere on the card, I’m looking forward to seeing what Nathan Coy brings to the table. He’s been at American Top Team (where I train) for a long time – he’s something of a team captain there, and I’m really happy to see him get this opportunity in the UFC. He’ll be taking on Danny Roberts – a young prospect from the UK – meaning this is another ATT vs Blackzilians match up.
Aljamain Sterling is also on this card – a guy with great striking and an unbeaten record. Yet more young talent to kick the week off with.
The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale
It’s crazy how the headline fight here is totally overshadowed by what’s going to follow the next day. But it’s going to be a great fight – and Mendes and Edgar are fighting for the next title shot here, so it’s a key fight for them both. Of the top four guys in the featherweight division, only Edgar and McGregor are yet to face each other. My money’s on Edgar for this one.
Edson Barboza is a great athlete to watch – an exciting and creative striker. Tony Ferguson could take this one though, if he can get him down to the mat. Mind you, as exciting as Barboza is, his chin has been a bit exposed and now his opponents are less afraid to stand and fight with him – it could be worth it to risk it and go big.
The TUF finale should be a good one. I know who’s in the final (so will you probably by the time I publish this!) and it should be a good watch. Overall, I’m really pleased to see the Europeans do so well in this season – I think the game has been raised! They’ve often outshone the American guys, and even out wrestled them at times, which is still sometimes a pleasant surprise!
Let’s work our way up to the top on this one…
Colby Covington seems like a good place to start. He’s an absolute stud! He’s always been a beast, but I think he’s going to really be on form for this one. He absolutely – and rightly – believes in his own abilities, and i’m excited to watch him maintain his winning record.
I don’t recall ever seeing Uriah Faber fight this low down on a card before! Frankie Saenz is a high level wrestler, but I think Faber has all the necessary tools to take this one via submission.
Max Holloway is very rangey with his striking; he knows what he’s doing. Jeremy Stephens is a very aggressive fighter – very exciting to watch. He was on the same card as be back at UFC 189 – I think he’s going to make this one an explosive one to watch.
Damian Maia and Gunnar Nelson are two athletes who both have astounding ground game. If neither are willing or able to take it to the ground, we could end up with a boxing match. Hopefully that won’t be the case here, because we could be treated to some world class grappling, which is infinitely more preferable than an average boxing match.
I know I said Covington was a stud, but Yoel Romero is one heck of a specimen of a human being. If a lab were trying to create the recipe for the perfect athlete, I’d suggest they just clone Romero and be done with it! This is going to be a crazy good fight. Since his loss to Luke Rockhold in 2011, Jacare has been finishing guys at the highest level – he seems to be unstoppable! Romero also lost on that same Strikeforce card, but has been on a win streak since. Both guys have the ability to finish this, but I’ve a feeling it will go the distance.
It’s hard to find a good reason not to back an unbeaten champ, but my gut is going with Rockhold over Weidman. Both are aggressive fighters who like to dominate the centre of the Octagon, but I think Rockhold will let Weidman do it, will wait for him to strike first, and then will dive right in. If it goes to the mat then I think Weidman will take it, purely because I’m not confident how well Rockhold will cope on his back – we’ve not seen much from him in that position. But if they stay standing, the key for both is striking – Rockhold just has the bigger arsenal.
As I said in my last blog, it’s insane that Aldo is going into this fight as the underdog – he’s one of the most dominant champs that this sport has ever seen! McGregor showed us a chink in his armour, and if Aldo is going to exploit that, then I think we can expect to see him take Conor to the ground pretty quickly and make him struggle the same way that Mendes did. But I think Aldo is also more than capable of standing with him – he’s just so versatile in all areas. It’s been over a year since Aldo fought, and in that year McGregor’s star his gone up and up – but to forget what the champ is capable of would be an error.
McGregor has done so much for this sport – as has Ronda Rousey – in terms of exposing MMA to a wider audience. He does things on his terms, but he does them well – his personality is his big selling point, whether you love him or loathe him, it sells. As an athlete, he’s also made me question my own training, in fact I think he’s got a lot of people questioning the whole game – he comes at it all from such a unique angle. His creativity is not just confined to his shit-talking, he is also potentially pioneering in the way people will train in MMA going forwards – and that’s huge.
Aldo vs. McGregor is the biggest event in MMA history – no question. It leaves Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell in the shade! I’m going to put up my Christmas tree now, and settle down for three days of awesome MMA.
Tweet me and let me know if you think I’m wrong on any of the above (I’m not!).