Category Archives: List

MMA’S DIVISION OF DEATH

On December 13, 2013, Georges St. Pierre, the greatest UFC welterweight fighter decided to finally walk away from the sport he loved. This was coming after a very controversial win over Johny Hendricks, who punished the champion for five rounds back in UFC 167. Plenty, including myself, thought Hendricks had won but even if he lost the decision, he can settle for a moral victory having hurt the legend enough to force him into early retirement.

Whether you love GSP’s decision or hate it, I think you would agree he stepped out of the sport at the right time. GSP’s last four fights suggest he absorbed more punishment than his other fights combined (240 strikes absorbed, over 50% of his total strikes absorbed). Hendricks, Condit, Diaz and Shields (all on this list) pounded him more than the dozen who came before.

GSP made the sane proper choice to quit now while he’s ahead because as I would outline, here’s the next 15 guys who have struck me as not only contenders but entertaining and violent brawlers and grapplers. Welcome to the new Welterweight Division. A division filled with knockouts and submissions and wars… THE DIVISION OF DEATH.

BIGG RIGG
Johny Hendricks (15-2, 10-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #1

The aforementioned Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks is fighting for the title in UFC 170 in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. Big Rig is notorious for arguably the most powerful leftie in MMA today, which floored two former title contenders within seconds. Big Rig isn’t only one of the strongest strikers but is a huge NCAA Division I wrestler. With GSP gone, he’s the favourite to take over the division. He’s the to-be-crowned Alpha Dog in the making.

THE NATURAL BORN KILLER
Carlos Condit (29-7, 6-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 14
Submissions: 13
UFC Rank: #2

Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit isn’t far behind Big Rig as a favourite to win the division. NBK once engaged Hendricks in a Fight of the Year caliber brawl that saw him lose a razor thin decision. But the Killer out-struck Hendricks (number) and also floored GSP and was a few punches away from winning his belt. Condit may not have GSP or Hendricks’s wrestling pedigree but he is arguably the division’s best striker.

RUTHLESS
Robbie Lawler (22-9, 7-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #3

Ruthless Robbie Lawler is easily 2013’s Comeback Fighter of the Year. On his second go-round with the UFC, he went on to knock out long-time gatekeeper Josh Koscheck, Strikeforce tough guy, Bobby Voelker and put a beating on a contender and GSP teammate, Rory “Ares” Macdonald. He’ll be facing Bigg Rigg for the championship soon. Lawler has always been a deadly striker but his improvement in takedown defense, precision and game planning has made him reach a new elite level.

EL DIABLO
Nick Diaz (26-9, 7-7 UFC)

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Knockouts: 13
Submissions: 8
UFC Rank: n/a

Although he remains “retired”, whenever “El Diablo” Nick Diaz decides to return to the octagon, he will be an immediate championship threat. The division’s best boxer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert has fought the best and was both a Strikeforce and WEC Welterweight Champion. His colourful nature makes him a polarizing figure but he’ll earn fans’ and haters’ respect alike with his artistic display of boxing destruction whenever he steps in the octagon.

ARES
Rory Macdonald (15-2, 6-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 6
Submissions: 6
UFC Rank: #4

With GSP retired, Rory “Ares” Macdonald now stands as Tristar Gym’s and Canada’s top fighter. Growing tired of his old name, Macdonald gave himself his own nickname although his tentative fighting style has led to much criticism. Regardless, Ares has all the tools to be a champion – size, topnotch grappling skills and toughness. He recently lost to Ruthless but he’s only one big win away from  being back in the title picture.

THE JUGGERNAUT
Jake Ellenberger (29-7, 8-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #5

The Juggernaut has been injured as of late and always seems to be overshadowed by the top fighters but he didn’t earn his moniker as an X-Men fan. Juggernaut is a powerful force and has won the majority of his UFC fights by way of knockout. He’s a wrestler by nature but prefers to stand and bang and even the toughest fighters should be weary to go toe-to-toe with The Juggernaut.

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 10
UFC Rank: #7

While not as physically imposing or powerful as some of the fighters here, Shields was once the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and was undefeated for six years. His lack of striking power shouldn’t undersell his prowess as he’s undefeated at welterweight and has wins over four fighters on this list (Condit, Lawler, Woodley, Maia). Shields flies under the radar but he can beat the best at any moment’s notice. PS I gave him the nickname. 😉

THE SUBMISSION DEMON
Demian Maia (18-5, 12-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 9
UFC Rank: #6

I made up his nickname but “Submission Demon” seems apt for the man who’s submitted Chael Sonnen and Rick Story – the latter’s first time being finished. Maia is a large welterweight having fought the best at middleweight before moving down and going on an unbeaten streak before a paper-thin decision loss to Jake Shields. He’s probably the best BJJ grappler in the division.

THE CHOSEN ONE
Tyron Woodley (12-2, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #11

Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley is on the fast track to winning the welterweight title as he’ll be going against The Natural Born Killer later this year. A wrestler who combines power with speed and athleticism, he’s a force who despite having only fought since 2009 has already beaten some of the big names in the division including Paul Daley, Josh Koscheck and former champion, Tarec Saffiedine.

LIGHTNING
Hector Lombard (33-4-1-1, 2-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 19
Submissions: 7
UFC Rank: #13

The Cuban version of Hulk aka Hector “Lightning” Lombard finally made the cut to welterweight and it has paid massive (pun intended) dividends in a first-round demolition of former title contender, Nate Marquardt. Lombard’s imposing muscular frame paired with his Judoka expertise and killer power has led him to win 33 of his 39 official fights with majority of those wins coming by knockout.

SPONGE
Tarec Saffiedine (15-3, 1-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 1
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #9

Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine finally made his much-anticipated debut in a five-round victory over Korean standout, Lim Gyun-Hyu. He didn’t finish Lim but dominated the much larger Korean and kicked his legs to oblivion. Saffiedine is one of the more polished and technical fighters in the division. He won’t have many highlight reel knockouts but he’s as much a contender as most of the ones on this list.

THE IMMORTAL
Matt Brown (18-11, 11-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 11
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #8

Before training in MMA, Matt Brown survived a heroin overdose thus prompting his nickname. He would then dedicate himself to martial arts and make his way to the UFC, where he would again survive a life-altering event, losing three in a row and 4 of 5 matches. That usually spells death sentence for most fighters but not the Immortal. Now a winner of six straight, with five of those coming by KO, the Immortal is in prime position to challenge the best in the division.

HORROR STORY
Rick Story (16-7, 9-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 4
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: #15

Once upon a time, Rick “Horror” Story was on his way to a title shot with huge wins over former title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and even Johny Hendricks. Then an upset loss to Charlie Brenneman and he never seemed to get back in rhythm having a spotty record since. But his most recent domination of Brian Ebersole, a result of training with Tristar has the wrestling standout back in the game. A rejuvenated Horror Story could spell terror for the rest of the division.

THE ACE
Lim Hyun-Gyu (12-4, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 9
Submissions: 2
UFC Rank: n/a

Too early? The Korean standout is relatively new to the UFC but already has two Fight of the Night awards along with two big knockouts. He most recently took Saffiedine to a five-round war that nearly saw him upset the former champion despite having his legs all-but kicked off. Lim is unranked in the division but with more polish, he’s sure to shoot up the rankings.

RUKUS
Brandon Thatch
(11-1 2-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: n/a

Brandon “Rukus” Thatch may be a relative unknown to the casual UFC fanbase but he shouldn’t be for long. Though just having two UFC fights, he’s won both by stoppages. He’s the first to KO Justin “Fast Eddie” Edwards  and just the 2nd to finish Paulo Thiago. Get this: 100% of the Karate master’s victories have all come by round 1 stoppage. Rukus is still new and thus unranked within the UFC but will look to keep his killer ways through 2014.

Watch for these other Killers:

Kim “Stun Gun” Dong-Hyun, Ryan LaFlare, Kelvin Gastelum, John “The Hitman” Hathaway, Mike “Quicksand” Pyle, Erick “Indio” Silva

20 GREATEST FIGHTS IN THE UFC FROM EACH OF THE LAST 20 YEARS (BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY UFC POST!)

Really late but it took a while to do research on the fights and videos. I picked the fights I thought had a great story behind it, not just how much each fighter bled or how how action-packed a fight was – although the entertainment value and lasting impact were my top two categories. Here we go!

2013: Jon “Bones” Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 165)

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Edges out Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez and Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann for the moment it showed the champion’s vulnerability and resilient comeback; this was a very controversial contest but marked what could be the start of the greatest trilogy in MMA history.

2012: Joe Lauzon vs Jamie Varner (UFC on Fox 4)

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Post-fight bonus legend Joe Lauzon outlasted Jamie Varner in a World War III style gritty MMA fight. A lot of fights in the octagon are technical affairs but this was a straight up WAR. Lauzon and Varner may never win a UFC title but this fight ensures they have a place somewhere in UFC legend.

2011: Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II (UFC 125)

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Gets the nod over Dan Henderson vs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 for the revelation of the heart of Frankie “The Answer” Edgar; a big size difference saw Frankie make a gutsy comeback against  then-undefeated Gray Maynard to retain his title.

2010: Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen (UFC 117)

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Undisputed champion, Anderson Silva would get the fight of his life against then-unknown Chael Sonnen. Silva would pull off a miraculous comeback late in the last round, submitting Sonnen after being controlled the whole fight. This match added to the Spider’s legend and gave rise to the “American Gangster” Chael Sonnen.

2009: Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida (The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale)

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From the start of the bell to last minute, this fight was a complete war! Right off the ring of the bell, Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida engaged in gratuitous but glorious war that saw a razor-thin decision win to crazy Diego “The Dream” Sanchez.

2008: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs Forrest Griffin (UFC 86)

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The peak of Forrest Griffin’s Cinderella run with the UFC. A major underdog to Pride legend, Rampage, Forrest would win a close five-round fight to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. It would mark the first time a The Ultimate Fighter winner would win a UFC championship.

2007: Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 79)

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This year marked the year two legendary (but fading away) MMA fighters went in an all-out brawl. Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva brought a combined 37 knockout wins to this fight but it was the guts and heart of both men that shined best in this classic.

2006: Georges St. Pierre vs B.J. Penn I (UFC 58)

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In what would be one of the most controversial fights in UFC history, a resilient GSP would outlast a vicious assault from B.J. Penn to win a title shot against Matt Hughes. In a rematch a few years later, GSP would put doubters to rest by soundly beating the Prodigy.

2005: Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar I (The Ultimate Fighter Finale)

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The fight that put the UFC on the map; not the best fight in technical terms but if you want to see a legitimate contest with two guys beating each other this is the fight for you. As such every UFC fan should have at least seen this fight. Call it a tribute or homage.

2004: Karo Parisyan vs Nick Diaz (UFC 49)

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In a stacked UFC 49 card, young phenoms Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz stole the show and put on a brilliant display of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Parisyan would come out with a close split decision victory but there were there no real losers in this epic contest.

2003: Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell I (UFC 43)

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In what would be the first meeting between two UFC legends, Randy Couture would hand Chuck Liddell his first career TKO loss. Couture would also become the first man in UFC history to win two world titles in separate divisions and further establish his stake to one of the company’s greatest fighters.

2002: Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock (UFC 40)

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This fight and PPV marked a turning point for the company as the buyrate was four times larger than any other show. Though a somewhat lopsided affair for Ortiz, the crazy atmosphere and intense rivalry fueled what would’ve been one of the most significant fights in company history.

2001: Carlos Newton vs Matt Hughes I (UFC 34)

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The night Matt Hughes became a UFC legend. The wrestler was a relative unknown coming into this fight and found himself in a grappling war with then-champion and BJJ specialist, Carlos Newton. Mid round 3, Hughes is caught with a triangle choke but just before passing out, slams Newton to win the title in what would stand as one of the most iconic finishes in UFC history.

2000: Tito Ortiz vs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3)

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Go ahead and accuse me of Tito Ortiz bias but Tito Ortiz does what most fans expect in a fight: he WARS. In this particular bout, he takes his brawling talents across the Pacific and meets equally violent Wanderlei Silva in an epic clash for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Tito would prevail.

1999: Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz (UFC 22)

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One of the greatest comebacks in UFC history; defending Light Heavyweight Champion, Frank Shamrock gets manhandled by the bigger Tito Ortiz for most of the fight then mounts an improbable comeback and TKO’s Ortiz just seconds before the end of round 4. It would be Frank’s last fight with the UFC. It would also be his best.

1998: Dan Henderson vs Carlos Newton (UFC 17)

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The first appearance of future champions Dan Henderson and Carlos Newton would be a memorable one as the two would engage in an all-out brawl with Hendo claiming victory by decision.

1997: Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort (UFC 15)

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One of the first “superfights” in the UFC, “The Natural” Randy Couture would upset then-undefeated Brazilian terror, Vitor Belfort. Couture would use his strong wrestling to nullify Belfort and finish him with strikes.  This also marked the first UFC with its current limitations on permissible striking areas.

1996: Mark Coleman vs Don Frye (UFC 10)

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Not the most exciting bout by today’s standards but at that time it showcased two powerhouse heavyweights. Mark Coleman would make the most of his UFC debut, beating fan favourite Don Frye with vicious ground and pound and wrestling to win. Bruce Buffer also made his debut at this event.

1995: Oleg Taktarov vs Marco Ruas (Ultimate Ultimate 1995)

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A classic not a lot of fans know about but should watch! UFC 7 champion and Vale Tudo phenom Marco Ruas would be taken to war by the Russian guy from Predators Sambo and Judo expert, Oleg Taktarov. Taktarov would win an entertaining scrap that might’ve yielded different results with today’s judging.

1994: Royce Gracie vs Dan Severn (UFC 6)

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In what is my “Really Boring Fight That Ended Really Awesome” fight, Royce Gracie shows the world that size doesn’t matter after he chokes out Dan Severn, who was a good three weight classes above him. This match is another reminder why BJJ is so widely studied and how even the smaller man can win.

1993: UFC 1

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Quite obvious. Pay your respects!

Who should Aldo Fight Next?

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Pardon the bluntness. UFC 163 absolutely sucked. Where is Dana at? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him. The best fight of the main card: John Lineker versus Jose Maria ended quite abruptly with a freak accident to Maria. Tom Watson put on such a sad performance he walked out to the Backstreet Boys in a mask and bad judging reared its ugly head again after Lyoto Machida found himself on the wrong end after, despite out-striking and controlling most of the match lost a shocking unanimous decision to Phil Davis.

And the main event – the event that pitted arguably the two most exciting dynamic fighters in their division – Jose Aldo and the Korean Zombie – fell flat on its face. The main fight just seemed to go from bad to worse especially for Zombie who dislocated his shoulder and lost the match via TKO. Aldo and Zombie looked lethargic the whole match and honestly I’ve seen sparring matches more entertaining for what could’ve been the Fight of the Year. Disappointment just isn’t strong enough of a word.

But I wish Korean Zombie well on his way to recovery and a win is a win for Aldo who never looked in danger throughout the whole match though he looked gassed by the 3rd round, which reminds me of how Edgar out-cardio’d him in their fight earlier in the year. This may very well be Aldo’s only “flaw” if we were to nitpick him.

Jose Aldo sports one of the best takedown defenses in the UFC, he has the most lethal leg kicks and tramples absolutely every fighter he’s faced and his striking in general is surgical. He also fights aggressively and has a killer mentality. Jose Aldo may very well be the next coming of Anderson Silva as differently as they are and as much as I would hate to use this comparison. But he might just be the P4P greatest Brazilian fighter when Silva inevitably fades away (as surreal as that is to imagine right now).

I’m getting ahead of myself. Other than his cardio, Aldo has also been injured repeatedly. Now he’s dealing with a broken foot. He’s suffered at least an injury each year since the WEC/UFC merger and I can’t help but think if Aldo’s career is ever going to live to its GOAT potential should his litany of injuries keep piling up.

As it stands, Aldo is in the top 4 P4P MMA rankings and while I feel he doesn’t have to prove anything any more, the featherweight division (in my opinion, the most exciting division in the UFC) is ripe with scintillating matchups. I’m balling trying to pick who should get Aldo next.

Here’s a look at five contenders (three of whom Aldo has already faced, one who he should’ve faced) who could (or should) get next crack at the champ along with some extra (loose) criteria such as a) likelihood they get the next shot and; b) their chances of beating Aldo. Their rankings are based on UFC.com’s rankings:

Ricardo Lamas (#2 Featherweight)

MMA: UFC on FOX 6-Lamas vs Koch

Height: 5’8”
Reach: 70 in

Lamas wants a title shot. Scratch that. Lamas DESERVES a title shot; hard to argue with a guy who is undefeated (4-0) in his time at featherweight and with the UFC. He’s the last person to beat Cub Swanson (see below) and the first to finish off highly touted prospect, Erik Koch.

It is very likely Lamas fights Aldo next or at the least fights for a #1 contender’s fight (most likely with Cub Swanson). Though I’m not entirely confident how well Lamas is going to fare against Aldo given how his stand-up game is not anywhere close to keeping Aldo honest. Aldo’s takedown defense (as you will see me refer to like a broken radio) is all-but legendary and his two losses came via KO though they were at lightweight. Anything can definitely happen and Lamas can shock the world with a stunning upset but I wouldn’t bank on it.

Likelihood: High
Chances of Beating Aldo:
Moderate

Cub Swanson (#4 Featherweight)

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Height: 5’7”
Reach: 70 in

My pick for the guy who needs to fight Aldo next; without a doubt Cubby has been the hottest featherweight contender outside Lamas and his 4 knockout wins in his last 5 fights speaks enough for itself. Aptly named “Beautiful Destruction”, Swanson transformed what was an up-and-down WEC career into a brilliant UFC career since joining Greg Jackson.

The last time Cub fought Aldo was the latter’s WEC debut and a freak double flying knee ended the fight quite abruptly. Cub’s vast improvement would make things more interesting. Cub is also most likely the most explosive (if not strongest) striker Aldo will have to face and his BJJ background makes him more than capable on the ground. I like Cub’s chances at pushing Aldo, maybe even pull off the shocking upset. Maybe.

The more likely scenario is Cubby fights Lamas in a rematch for the chance to face Aldo while he waits for his foot to heal. Losing to Lamas (again) will slow down Swanson’s momentum some but he’ll hang around the title picture. If it’s anyone Dana loves, its guys who finish fights and Cub will get his shot sooner rather than later.

Likelihood: High
Chances of Beating Aldo: High

Frankie Edgar (#3 Featherweight)

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Height: 5’6”
Reach: 72 in

A Frankie Edgar-Jose Aldo rematch is something that will inevitably come provided neither fighter decided to call it a career and go Yeti-hunting. Frankly (no pun intended :p), I see little reason why this rematch will be too different from the first. Aldo clearly won the first three rounds of the fight and seemingly “gassed out” although it’s hard to find fighters who can out-cardio Frankie Edgar.

What’s notable is Frankie being able to throw Aldo into the mat. Given Aldo’s takedown defense, that is impressive and Frankie is going to have to pull a couple more of those from nowhere to secure a decision over Aldo. Frankie is one of the quickest strikers in the UFC and usually against most competition he can outscore them in this category but that is considering if he can keep eating Aldo’s leg kicks. It’s only a matter of time before the iron-chinned lion-hearted fighter eventually succumbs to his physique. But I’m rambling here. Bottom line: Aldo will still secure a decision win though this next fight may be slightly closer than the first. Maybe a split decision win? Hmm.

Likelihood: Moderate
Chances of Beating Aldo: Moderate

Chad Mendes (#1 Featherweight)

UFC 142: Aldo v Mendes

Height: 5’6”
Reach: 66 in

Chad Mendes was approximately a second away from making it into round 2 with Jose Aldo during their title fight a year ago. That marked his first ever loss and it lit the proverbial “fire up his ass” as he tore through his next three opponents knocking them all out within 2 minutes of the fight. That stat while impressive should still be taken with a grain of salt as none of those three opponents were in the top 10.

“Money” is a force to be reckoned with and is probably the closest thing to Urijah Faber during his golden WEC days.  He faces Clay Guida next in what could be a #1 contender’s match for Mendes. This would also be the first top 10 guy Mendes faces outside of Aldo in his UFC career and should be a good indication if he is a pretender or a contender.

While I love Mendes’s combination of strength, endurance and aggressiveness, I don’t see how his second go round with Aldo will yield an entirely different result. He may probably take Aldo all the way to a decision and wear him out with his strong wrestling background but he isn’t any better than Frankie Edgar or Faber when they faced Aldo. I don’t see Mendes getting another shot at least not over the aforementioned fighters and I see even less of an upset chance.

Likelihood: Low
Chances of Beating Aldo: Low

Anthony Pettis (#2 Lightweight)

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Height: 5’10”
Reach: 72 in

This match is going to happen whether Pettis wins the Lightweight title or not. It has to happen and I’m not the only one who feels this match is still owed to us fans. Physically, Pettis is the most imposing of all fighters listed. He is taller and has longer reach than Aldo and his striking skills are just about as lethal and creative. You’re looking at a kid (only 26) who finished 13 of his 18 opponents and beat 16 of them. He’s coming off of two huge knockout wins over two well-regarded lightweights and is the last guy to have beaten Benson Henderson over three years ago. Here’s a reminder:

With that overhyping behind us, Pettis hasn’t fought a guy with the same pedigree as Aldo. As great as Bendo is, he hasn’t nearly looked as dominant in his title defenses as Aldo – who has all but trampled his competition – even whilst suffering through injuries. Aldo ranks 5th in significant strike defense (72.1%) and 2nd in takedown defense (89.7%). Aldo’s also notable for giving a lot of guys such as Mendes, Swanson and former WEC champion Mike Brown their first KOs. Is Pettis next?

That said, I like Pettis’s chances the best out of all the fighters. Maybe slightly over Cubby. Pettis has one of the most diverse striking backgrounds and is a slick BJJ tactician. Styles make fights and he definitely has the style to pull off the upset. Though the likelihood of this fight happening is very hard to predict though if Pettis wins the Lightweight title back it would be a “Superfight” in its own category.

Likelihood: Wildcard
Chances of Beating Aldo: High

SUPERCARD FANTASY: Team Lightweights vs Team Featherweights

Time for a totally fun, hypothetical, suspend-your-disbelief scenario .The Featherweight and Lightweight divisions in the UFC (or MMA in general) have been my two favourite divisions. Constantly engaging and quick fights and still enough finishes. Several fight of the year wars (as listed below for all your MMA pleasure) have been from both divisions. So I’m thinking, what if I was Dana White for one major decision and decided to create a super card of sorts.

Team Featherweights vs Team Lightweights in say a catchweight competition of 150 lbs. I’ve picked five fights and five fighters from each weight division. I didn’t strictly stick to the P4P rankings although all ten fighters are within the top 10 of their weight divisions.

My standards for making the matches are simple: how entertaining and competitive each fight will be. My criteria will be: 1) how well each other’s styles will clash against each other and 2) how close each other in terms of ranking or – of course, I can’t promise they will all be close but they’re close enough to make the fight worth watching.

Jim Miller vs Frankie Edgar

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There’s already history between these two: way back in 2006 where Frankie gave Miller his first career loss. They’re similar in build though Miller has a two inch height advantage and Frankie has an inch reach advantage. Frankie is also two years Miller’s senior. They’re both great at takedowns with backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and Wrestling, have great cardio and entertaining as hell. They both have a combined 10 Fight of the Nights and have both won Fight of the Year. This match has potential for either or both categories.

Why Frankie Wins:

Quick and precise boxing is Frankie’s calling card. If this fight stays standing up, he may win the judges by picking apart Miller’s stand up. Not to say Miller is a slouch but he won’t be out-striking Frankie and he hasn’t shown any significant knockout power to keep Frankie at bay. If it goes to the ground, the crafty and spirited Miller will give Frankie trouble but his indomitable strength in wrestling will see him through.

Why Miller Wins:

His strength and creativity on the ground is among the best in the lower weight classes and his Energizer Bunny-like fighting spirit is ridiculous. His iron chin is going to test Frankie’s boxing and his ability to seemingly weasel his way out of any situation is not unlike the former Lightweight Champ.  Miller has only ever been finished once (by Nate Diaz) to which Frankie vocally expressed utter disbelief in:

Frankie quote:

“I know Jim’s tough as nails … I definitely didn’t think Jim would get finished so hats off to Nate. He’s a stud for sure.”

The Results:

This fight is going all three rounds. Expect this fight to stay standing up in a high energy fast-paced battle with Frankie landing a lot of quick punches with Miller pushing him aggressively. There will be a lot of clinching and takedown attempts with both men fighting for control throughout all fifteen minutes. Fight of the Night contender with Frankie coming away with a close unanimous decision victory.

Winner: Frankie Edgar vs unanimous decision (1-0 Featherweights)

Gilbert Melendez vs Ricardo Lamas

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A clash between the #4 Featherweight and the #2 Lightweight and two potential contenders for their respective titles; Lamas and Melendez seem physically even with Melendez holding a slight height and reach advantage. Both have a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and wrestling and are just over a month apart in age. You can’t get more evenly matched than this.

Why Lamas Wins:

Outside Cub Swanson, no featherweight has been hotter than Ricardo Lamas. The Bully is undefeated in his UFC career and has defeated all four of his opponents, finishing off three of them including the aforementioned Cub. His mixture of wrestling and BJJ combined with his vicious ground-and-pound could threaten Melendez. Lamas’s stand-up game isn’t his biggest strength but his two KOs coming from his legs are proof he can be a dangerous and effective striker. If El Niño isn’t careful, a leg kick or knee or could just lay him out.

Why Melendez Wins:

Experience. El Niño has more wins (21) than Ricardo Lamas has fights (15). His wrestling/BJJ combo is grueling and he wears out opponents including prominent jiujutsu phenom, Shinya Aoki. In his  24 professional fights, Melendez has also never been finished a credit both to his sturdy chin, elusiveness and strong ground game.

The Results:

This fight will go the distance. Both fighters are strong enough on the ground to assert their will over the other but winning the ground game is as much experience as strength and technique and unless Lamas lands a precise kick or knee to Melendez (unlikely given his strong kick defense shown against Bendo) I see the more experienced fighter coming out on top in a tightly contested match.

Winner: Gilbert Melendez via unanimous decision (1-1 tie)

TJ Grant vs Cub Swanson

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The two hottest fighters in their respective divisions are both coming off of five-fight win streaks. While Grant has a four-inch height and 2.5 inch reach advantage, they’re virtually similar everywhere else including having no KO loss (excluding Cub’s freak eight-second loss to Aldo). Between both of them they have 12 knockouts, 20 submissions, 4 Knockout of the Nights and 5 Fight of the Nights. Fireworks are the least you can expect when these two cross paths.

Why Cub Wins:

Don’t count out the smaller guy. Cub was a former lightweight having knocked out guys bigger than he. He’s knocked out plenty of granite-chinned strikers such as George Roop, Ross Pierson and most recently, Dennis Siver. His fists are just half his arsenal as Cub has tapped out nearly as many guys as he has knocked out. His power, versatility and killer instinct are why he’s on a bullet train to the top.

Why Grant Wins:

Not unlike Cub, Grant was from a heavier weight class most notably giving Welterweight contender Johny Hendricks a run for his money. Since moving to Lightweight, Grant’s been a wrecking ball. His best asset is his BJJ ground game having finished off a whopping 13 guys but lately it’s his fists that have been talking. Like Cub, Grant goes into a fight looking to finish and at Lightweight it’s worked marvelously.

The Results:

Two explosive fighters with strong ground games – this fight is a toss-up. Grant has the definite size advantage but that could also mean being more prone to submissions, which Cub is no slouch in. Both fighters are going to be throwing everything at each other and whoever drops first loses. The difference lies mainly in Cub’s explosiveness and Grant’s technicality. But I’ll give the edge to Cub who has been on an absolute tear dropping even the toughest chinned fighters.

Winner: Cub Swanson via TKO (2-1 Featherweights)

Anthony Pettis vs Chan Sung Jung

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The battle of number one contenders pits two very exciting fighters with virtually the same physical stats: both Jung and Pettis stand 5’9” and have 72 inch reach and are both 26 with similar amount of fights under their belts. Both are well-rounded Brazilian Jiu-jutsu and Taekwondo practitioners and have won Fight of the Year at least once each. Pardon the obvious: but this is an actual fight that would make for an exciting trilogy.

Why Jung Wins:

The Korean Zombie doesn’t just take shots, he eats them for breakfast. Outside his one KO loss, Jung has developed a reputation as a fighter with tremendous endurance and durability. He has some power in his fists but his real weapon is his BJJ being one of the most ingenious submission artists in the UFC – ask Leonard Garcia. Pettis has never been submitted or finished in his MMA career but I wouldn’t put it past the ever-surprising Jung to pull off another once-in-a-lifetime move to secure a shocking win.

Why Pettis Wins:

If the Zombie has shown a weakness, it’s getting kicked in the head and Anthony Pettis just so happens to have a good chunk of his KOs via head kicks. Showtime is one of the most unpredictable strikers if not the most unpredictable. He combines power, agility and creativity and his BJJ has yielded him 6 submission victories. Zombie, although improved, has shown propensity to absorb contact in order to dish it and the more elusive Pettis may just hit Zombie enough to score a W if he doesn’t kick his head off first.

The Results:

This fight is going to see both fighters empty their arsenal of creative weapons to try to outdo each other but I see this match standing up as both of them seem very much like crowd pleasers. In that sense, a Pettis combination KO on Zombie is highly plausible but Jung has taken a more calculated fighting approach that has led to three consecutive wins. Pettis is the better striker and unless Jung can catch him in a submission attempt, I see Showtime taking home the victory via the score cards.

 Winner: Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (2-2 tie)

Benson Henderson vs Jose Aldo

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Champion vs champion. Technically not a “Super Fight” but still a fight for the ages. Both Bendo and Pettis have 70 inch reaches but Bendo has a slight two-inch height advantage. Both have backgrounds in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and have about the same number of fights. Most importantly, they’re both undefeated in their UFC careers.

Why Aldo Wins:

Jose Aldo’s real legs were taken away at birth and replaced by steel bats. Half of Aldo’s KOs have been through his legs and he has that Anderson Silva-like ability to strike an opponent from any angle and get the quick finish. Aldo’s takedown defense and BJJ are not to be underrated. He only has one submission (other submission was via strikes) but his BJJ has helped him control strong wrestlers. Aldo’s lanky frame also hides his iron skin. He’s never been knocked out and doesn’t look like he’ll be for a while.

Why Bendo Wins:

I wouldn’t call Bendo one of the toughest-chinned fighters. He is however, one of the most if not the most resilient. He’s been dropped on numerous occasions but always recovers and has never been knocked out ever. He’s virtually impossible to submit (only one submission loss very early in career) and utilizes his strong athletic frame to grind out victories even against the best wrestlers and strikers. Bendo hasn’t finished an opponent since 2010 but he consistently does enough to win via score card showing his consistency and fighting spirit.

The Results:

Aldo has shown a susceptibility to strong wrestlers like Frankie and Chad Mendes and both aren’t nearly as big as Bendo. Aldo has worn out most of his competition with his powerful leg strikes but Bendo’s legs are massive and powerful. His lightning-quick recovery time could also frustrate Aldo. This fight goes the distance and in a battle of attrition, it is Bendo who comes out on top of another controversial decision.

Winner: Benson Henderson via split decision (3-2 Lightweights)

Conclusion

I gave the edge to the Lightweights but the fight, a bit idealistically ends very tightly contested and the card of the year. All a fantasy. But if you disagree with my picks (I’m well aware of Benson Henderson’s controversial status and Aldo’s HUGE following) send me notes! Love or hate, I don’t discriminate.