I have been watching the unfolding of cards for both SF and the UFC over the past few weeks and have to say as an MMA fan, I have never been more excited (my wallet not so much). Over the 63 or so days between UFC 111 on March 27th to UFC 114 on May 29th, there will be 10 title fights (11 if you count the interim HW UFC fight), 14 fights between top ten ranked competitors, and a host of other action like Bellator's upcoming events, Dream 14 and 15, and others. I am not sure about anyone else, but this looks to be the most exciting lineup of fights and cards I have ever seen. Thank you Dana White, Joe Silva, Scott Coker, Reed Harris and whoever else had a hand in delivering this to the fans because this is awesome.
Here's a Breakdown and at the bottom I will be including a poll to see which title fight is the most anticipated:
March 27th - UFC 111
UFC Welterweight Title : GSP (#1 WW) vs Dan Hardy (#5 WW)
UFC Interim Heavyweight Title : Shane Carwin (#7 HW) vs Frank Mir (#3 HW)
Thiago Alves (#3 WW) vs Jon Fitch (#2 WW)
March 31st - UFC Fight Night 21
Kenny Florian (#3 LW) vs Takanori Gomi (#17 LW)
April 10th - UFC 112
UFC Middleweight Title : Anderson Silva (#1 MW) vs Demain Maia (#6 MW)
UFC Lightweight Title : BJ Penn (#1 LW) vs Frankie Edgar (#6 LW)
April 17th - Strikeforce Nashville
SF Middleweight Title : Jake Sheilds (#7 MW) vs Dan Henderson (#2 MW)
SF Light Heavyweight Title : Gegard Moussasi (#6 LHW) vs Mo Lawal (#21 LHW)
SF Lightweight Title : Gilbert Melendez (#8 LW) vs Shinya Aoki (#2 LW)
April 24th - WEC 48
WEC Featherweight Title : Jose Aldo (#1 FW) vs Urijah Faber (#3 FW)
WEC Lightweight Title : Benson Henderson (#18 LW) vs Donald Cerrone
Mike Brown (#2 LW) vs Manny Gamburyan (#7 FW)
May 8th - UFC 113
UFC Light Heavyweight Title : Lyoto Machida (#1 LHW) vs Shogun Rua (#2 LHW)
Josh Koscheck (#4 WW) vs Paul Daley (#7 WW)
May 15th - Strikeforce St. Louis
SF Heavyweight Title (rumored): Alistair Overeem (#9 HW) vs Brett Rogers (#8 HW)
Andre Arlovski (#11 HW) vs Antonio Silva (#17 HW)
(rumored) Fedor Emelianenko (#1 HW) vs Fabricio Werdum (#10 HW)
May 29th - UFC 114
Rampage Jackson (#4 LHW) vs Rashad Evans (#4 LHW)
Forrest Griffin (#6 LHW) vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (#8 LHW)
To me this is the most impressive two month span I have ever seen as an MMA fan. Can anyone name a 63 day period that was more relevant. All I ever read about is how the UFC has dominant champions and there is not enough #1 contender matchups or fights that matter. Here you go. The dominance of almost all the champs will be tested (some more than others).
These arbitrary rankings that everyone likes to debate and chime in on will be cleared up a little. Is Shinya all that? Can Carwin survive his biggest test? Will Maia even last as long as Forrest? Is Jake Sheilds really world class at MW? Is King Mo ready? Can Urijah stop the beast that is Aldo? Was Lyoto/ Rua I an aberration? Will Paul Daley be able to keep it on the feet? How good are Overeem and/or Rogers? Was Forrest's last fight just a Spyder moment or was it something more? Rashad/ Rampage nuff said!
Maybe its too early to get excited. Maybe not. Maybe some of these fights don't happen. No matter what, you have to give it up to the matchmakers in each of these organizations. They knew they were going up against Manny Pacquiao/ Clottey and Mayweather/ Mosley. They knew they had to give us something to spend our money on. they delivered on the scheduling.