One month into the MMA New Year and things are looking up. The Ultimate Fighting Championship had a great ratings on FX with UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs Bisping. Early raitings for UFC on FOX 6, headlined by a Flyweight title fight are looking pretty good. Bellator FINALLY made it’s home on SpikeTV nearly increasing their ratings nearly 8x as when it was on MTV2. For fight fans the majority of fights have been entertaining, Pat Curran vs Patricio Freire was a great technical fight, Flyweights Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson entertained for 25 minutes on national television. Best of all the injury monster (but not lactor the acid monster) hasn’t reared it’s ugly head.
FEB 02 2013 UFC 156 - Aldo vs. Edgar PPV - FX - Facebook
Ya know I’d really like to see Middleweight champion Anderson Silva fight Welterweight champion George St. Pierre or Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Those would be worthy of the superfight moniker. All this fantasy talk has drowned out the fact there is a superfight actually happening in the month of February. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo faces former Lightweight kingpin Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 as the headliner of the annual Super Bowl card.
Frankie Edgar finally drops down to 145 lbs and challenges the best featherweight ever, Jose Aldo. Surrounding this title fight are four other fights that make up the PPV broadcast. In the co-main event Rashad Evans faces Lil Nog Rogério Nogueira at light heavyweight as talks once again come up about him dropping to 185lbs. Former Strikeforce,DREAM, and K-1 Grand Prix champion Alistair Overeem returns to the octagon after serving his 9 months suspension for having a 14:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio going into his fight with Brock Lesnar in the closing hours of 2011. Welcoming him back will be Bigfoot Antonio Silva, fresh off a victory over prospect Travis Browne. A match getting a surprising amount of interest is Demian Maia vs Jon Fitch. The normally prosaic Jon Fitch looked like a man possessed as he dominated (putting it lightly) Erik Silva. The BJJ champion Maia has gotten back to his finishing weighs at 170 lbs, providing us with this gif (WARNING not for the faint of heart) in his most recent outing. Then there is the two men who lost to Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall. I don’t think it’s a given that Joe B-wan Kenobi easily wrestles his way to victory. The former TPF champion Ian McCall can light him up with leg kicks and combinations, if he gets going. The worst thing about Ian McCall is he starts slow.
The FX preliminary card has some interesting fights as well. The preliminary card is: Gleison Tibau vs. Evan Dunham , Tyron Woodley vs. Jay Hieron , Jacob Volkmann vs. Bobby Green , and Yves Edwards vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg. It’s hard to imagine but a couple years ago Evan Dunham was one of the many fighters at lightweight who were just this close to a title shot. Since that time has passed he has gone 2-2 (2-3 if you count the Sherk loss but you shouldn’t). Facing a man like Gleison Tibau is the right move to rebuild his reputation in the division. Tibau is a great gatekeeper between the top 15 and top 20 of a division. Strikeforce title challenger Tyron Woodley gets a steep test in the form of Jay Hieron. Hieron is at least the third toughest opponent of Woodley’s career. I hate Jacob Volkmann’s politics but his folkstyle wrestling entertains me. Yves Edwards made short work of Jeremy Stephens and now looks to make his first win streak in the UFC since 2004.
FEB 07 2013 Bellator MMA - Bellator 88 Spike, Spike.com
The only fight currently announced for Bellator 88 is a middleweight title fight between Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Jose Falcao. That should be entertaining, Shlemenko throws a bunch of spinning ish and Falcao well has anger issues. Expect the semi finals from various tournaments to make up the rest of the main card.
FEB 16 2013 UFC on Fuel TV 7 - Barao vs. McDonald FUELtv, Facebook
The FuelTV platform may still be small but the UFC has been using it correctly as the place for live international events that can be both shown live and reaired in primetime for normally people. Well, that implies normal people have FuelTV in the first place but either way UFC on FuelTV 7 is a really good card.
With Bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz out even longer with ACL related injuries the itnerim belt will actually be defended, as it should be. Renan Barao takes on the young Michael McDonald who packs the most punch of anyone at 135 pounds. Sure it’s for teh interim belt, but how can you not be excited to see these two go at it for 25 minutes? Supporting them will be interesting fights like grappling ace Gunnar Nelson vs Jorge Santiago and Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabaté. Nelson and Manuwa make up two young prospects the UFC could use when expanding into Europe. The always impactful James Te-Huna will square off against Ryan Jimmo at light heavyweight. Opening the FuelTV broadcast will be Solid-Killer Che Mills vs Matt “Here’s my Weed Card” Riddle.
If you have FuelTv this is a good reason to watch, or at least DVR it and watch it at a reasonable hour. If you don’t have FuelTV, well ya know internet and wait until FuelTV becomes Fox Sports 2.
FEB 14 2013 Bellator MMA - Bellator 89 Spike, Spike.com
The only fight currently announced for Bellator 90 is a bantamweight title fight between champion Eduardo Dantas and teammate Marcos Galvao. Dantas is coming off a KO loss in another promotion but still has the muay thai chops to beat the lanky Galvao. Dantas is one of the top bantamweights outside of the UFC. Expect the semi finals from various tournaments to make up the rest of the main card.
FEB 23 2013 UFC 157 - Rousey vs. Carmouche PPV, FX, Facebook
Women will finally compete inside the octagon as former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey trades that belt for a UFC one, before defending it against Liz Carmouche. The rest of the card has interesting fights but other than Dan Henderson vs Lyoto Machida it lacks the kind of name power and matchmaking UFC 156 has.
Ronda Rousey is going to start collecting arms in the UFC, unless Liz Carmouche pulls some Matt Serra style antics. I highly doubt Carmouche will pull of the upset. Heck if she makes it past the 3 minute mark I’ll be impressed. The likely outcome is Rousey will quickly collect Carmouche’s arm for her mantle.
Both Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida were promised title shots against Jon Jones. Then they incurred the wrath of Dana White for being injured (Henderson, which canceled a card) and turning down a proposed title fight (Machida). Now they face each other with the winner likely fighting Jon Jones...finally. Urijah Faber vs Ivan Menjivar just screams fun time but it is pretty meaningless in the context of the division. Robbie Lawler returns to the UFC against Josh Koscheck. Lawler has one of the best hooks in MMA and Koscheck has never looked the same since the second GSP fight. Chad Mendes continues to rebuild by taking on Manny Gamburyan.
FEB 21 2013 Bellator MMA - Bellator 90 Spike, Spike.com
The only fight announced is the featherweight tournament final from the previous season, Rad Martinez vs Shabulat Shamhalaev. Both fighters are solid featherweights who are more prospects at this point. Expect the semi finals from various tournaments to make up the rest of the main card.
FEB 28 2013 Bellator MMA - Bellator 91 Spike, Spike.com
Christian M’Pumbu finally defends his light heavyweight title agaisnt tournament winner Attila Vegh. Vegh upset the lineal Bellator light heavyweight champion Travis Wiuff. Now he gets to take the actual belt. Expect the semi finals from various tournaments to make up the rest of the main card.