It’s that time of season again. Time to let the champagne flow, the confetti fall, and the resolutions fly. To mark a season of new beginnings, here are 10 fights that we’d love to see inside of the next 12 months.
10. Matt Brown vs. Tim Credeur
Big names don’t always make great fights … great fights make names big. Don’t believe us? Just ask once-unknown TUF graduates Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. In much the same way, fellow TUF 7 vets Tim Credeur and Matt Brown posses a plethora of collective experience, talent, and an unsatisfied hunger for bigger and better things—all factors that are at the base of what makes for a great fight. Given the consistently improving performance of both fighters in their last couple of bouts, this battle could potentially skyrocket one fighter—or both of them— to the forefront of UFC popularity among even the most casual fans.
9. Joe Stevenson vs. Frankie Edgar
When it comes to the UFC’s lightweight division, matchmaker Joe Silva can pretty much draw two names from a hat and come up with a great fight. But if there’s any method to Silva’s matchmaking, then Stevenson vs. Edgar is most likely in the back of his mind somewhere.
Since making his exhilarating UFC debut against Tyson Griffin, Frankie Edgar has used his wrestling and boxing to rack up wins against veterans Hermes Franca and Sean Sherk. On the other side of the coin, Joe Stevenson is a boxing/ wrestling stylist who also has fought the best of the best. And since teaming up with MMA guru Greg Jackson, Stevenson’s game has only gotten more impressive. Will Frankie Edgar have “The Answer” for Joe “Daddy” Stevenson? There’s really only one way to find out.
8. Chris Horodecki vs. Donald Cerrone
With Chris Horodecki now in the WEC, the fan-pleasing style of “The Polish Hammer” will finally get to shine in a place besides the highlight reel archives of the since-dissolved IFL. For those who don’t know Horodecki, his ultra-aggressive stand-up techniques will have everyone remembering how to spell his last name. Couple that type of talent with the striking and submission skills of lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, and fans just might be treated to the best shootout since the O.K. Corral.
7. Todd Duffee vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
It only took seven seconds for Todd Duffee to impress the hell out of us when he knocked out Tim Hague at UFC 102. But was that enough time to confirm a bright future in the heavyweight pool of the UFC? For the answer to that question, we turn to Gabriel Gonzaga—a versatile fighter who was battling for the heavyweight title not too long ago.
With Todd Duffee begging Dana White for bigger named opponents after UFC 102, Gabriel Gonzaga is now at the right spot on the totem pole to make this fight a possibility, not to mention a question-answering bout: Is Gabriel Gonzaga still relevant in the UFC heavyweight division? Is Todd Duffee everything he seems to be?
6. Anthony Johnson vs. Ben Saunders
Up until Anthony Johnson’s rear naked choke loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 106, most fight enthusiasts were drooling over the possibility of GSP vs. Johnson. Given that Johnson’s only two losses within the UFC have been products of effective submission grappling, we think Rumble would be more apt to enjoy himself while fighting another man in the meantime—Ben Saunders. Although Saunders is very wellrounded and has the subs to defeat Johnson, he’s displayed a willingness to stand and trade with his opponents in many of his fights. After showcasing murderous knees from the clinch in two of his last three bouts, including his upset-slaughter of Marcus Davis at UFC 106, this fight just might turn out to be all that it promises on paper.
5. Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz
For those newer MMA fans out there, it might be a surprise to learn that these two well-known vets have already had a showdown within the UFC nearly six years ago. It was there that the world—and Ruthless Robbie Lawler—learned that Diaz’s hands are not to be underestimated. Since then, both men have tucked plenty of experience under their belts, shared a common opponent in Scott Smith (whom they both decidedly beat), and ended up in the stable of STRIKEFORCE fighters. With just enough bad blood—and more than enough skill—between the two of them to make things interesting, Lawler vs. Diaz II is a fight that Scott Coker should make happen in 2010.
4. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Alistair Overeem
With an amazing record, an unshakable aura, and a highlight reel that speaks for itself, Fedor Emelianenko is the only fighter who can draw loads of attention without saying a single word. To that end, Fedor just might be the most loved—and simultaneously controversial—fighter in all of mixed martial arts. Many feel that Fedor has been tested in some of his most recent bouts. If that’s the case, then we say it’s time for him to have his biggest test yet in a bout against current STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, a Dutch kickboxer who’s equally threatening on his feet and the ground.
With this fight being a distinct possibility within the STRIKEFORCE promotion, only time will tell if Overeem is the man who will finally fell Fedor.
3. Gegard Mousasi vs. Cung Le
After relinquishing his STRIKEFORCE Middleweight Championship title and leaving for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Cung Le is once again poised to make his return to MMA. And with recent STRIKEFORCE cards hot on the heels of some UFC events, why not continue the trend and put on a barnburner-of-a-fight against current STRIKEFORCE Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi? Pairing Sanshou ace Cung Le against Dutch kickboxer Gegard Mousasi would be like pairing nitro with glycerin—simply explosive.
2. Miguel Torres vs. Urijah Faber
Hear the term “WEC” and chances are you’ll automatically picture one, or both, of these two fighters. And we say that’s good enough reason to have them scrap it out in the cage! Both of these WEC poster boys are always game for a knockdown, drag-out war. Should this matchup ever come to fruition, we here at FIGHT! have only one question left to ask: Who the hell do we root for?
1. Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva
With a big chunk of the UFC heavyweight talent suffering from unlucky accidents and acts of nature, perhaps it’s time to step things up with a good old-fashioned superfight that will pull all onlookers’ attention elsewhere. Who better to provide that draw than two of the most iconic UFC fighters in history, who also just so happen to be in their primes? Not only would this catch-weight bout pull in boatloads of money and viewers, but who knows, maybe it could help add a little solidarity to all the “pound-for-pound” nonsense that everyone is always arguing about.
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3. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar
With failed UFC negotiations with the enigmatic Russian superstar, and Brock Lesnar’s own future as a fighter within the UFC looking bleak due to health problems, this fantasy matchup may only remain a sweet dream of hardcore MMA fans for all eternity.
2. Anderson Silva vs. Lyoto Machida
Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida are like brothers. Both fighters are elusive, extremely technical, and wellrounded.
But brothers usually don’t fight each other—and that’s according to both Machida and Silva, who have cited their unbreakable friendship as a reason to keep this goosebumpworthy fight at bay, maybe forever.
1. Dana White vs. Scott Coker
Things are certainly heating up between these two MMA league leaders—it might just be time to put them in the cage to settle things once and for all. Coker comes into the bout with a solid background in tae kwon do and displays a calm confidence indicative of a true martial artist. White boasts Bostonian boxing experience and a little bit of jiujitsu to boot. Who would have the edge between these two? In the cage, your guess is as good as ours … but Dana White wins the prefight smack talk contest, hands down.
Forrest Griffin vs. Chuck Liddell
All things considered, MMA coaches have a leg up on your average layman when it comes to predicting good match ups. Our expert in this case is Shawn Tompkins, head coach of Team Tompkins at the TapouT Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, and veteran coach of Chris Horodecki, Sam Stout, Mark Hominick, Vitor Belfort, and others.
Citing that both Liddell and Griffin have similar body makeup, somewhat unorthodox styles, and aren’t exactly at their best on their own backs, Tompkins contends that this matchup has the potential to be a great fight. Add the fact that both men represent two of the most popular fighters in MMA history, says Tompkins, and the world will have no choice but to pay attention.