It was a rough week for the preeminent MMA brand, the UFC. Headliner after headliner dropped one by one. The biggest draw the company has ever had, Brock Lesnar, blew up the tepid build TUF provided for his bout with Junior Dos Santos by announcing that he will not be able to compete at UFC 131. Personally, I think he will never fight again, but time will tell. That's for another discussion. So, what we are left with this summer are UFC PPV's with the following main events:
Rampage Jackson vs. Matt Hamill
Faber vs Cruz 2
Rashad vs Davis (I'll believe it when I see it)
Silva vs Okami
Not bad but nothing earth shaking either. In these tough economic times, I have some advice. Visit the bars for the UFC events you want to see and buy a summer long subscription to SHO while you save up your dough for a Fall/Winter with the UFC that should be spectacular.
It's a good thing Zuffa purchased Strikeforce when they did because if one of the other bidders came in with a cash war chest, Strikeforce could have made great strides this summer. They have a fantastic lineup and, with all of Zuffa's trials and tribulations, could have made some hey with the right marketing push behind them. Being successful comes from not only being smart, you have to get lucky once and a while. Zuffa getting Strikeforce when they did turned out to be a stroke of luck.
So, let's look at the Strikeforce lineup for the summer. We start with one of the most highly anticipated cards of the year. Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum. We are almost there. Reem is riding on a monster wave of confidence while Werdum is coming off the most stunning victory of his or just about any MMA star's career. We all know how epic this heavyweight battle can be; one of the world's greatest MMA BJJ artist today against a striker with unrivaled skills. If you have read my posts you know how I think this will go but, no matter what, I think it can be among the best fights of this year. Then you have the return of the pariah, Josh Barnett, as he seeks redemption. Personally, I'm excited to watch Josh fight again. I know, if he was in baseball he would be given a lifetime ban right now but Barry Bonds can still sign with a team today and play ball. So, I'm ready to let the past be the past and hope to see a recovered and reinvigorated Josh Barnett on June 18th. Because, when he is on he is just damn fun to watch. Mini Reem and Griggs should provide early fireworks and either you are excited about the return of Gina Carano or you are not. But, it will certainly bring eyes to the show. However you look at it, it is a monumental night of MMA action. Believe in it or not, the lineal title is up for grabs and it is a must watch event.
But, the summer's action doesn't stop there for Strikforce. Next, we have another addition of Strikeforce: Challengers and the card is pretty damn good. There are two bouts on this card that should grab your attention. Caros Fodor looks to build off his win over heralded prospect, David Douglas, in a bout against James Terry. If you watched Fodor in his bout against Douglas you had to be impressed with vicious tenacity of this fighter. Strikeforce has a handful of solid lightweight prospects and this will be an important next step for Fodor. The other bout I am pumped for: Lorenz Larkin vs Gian Villante. The last time we saw Villante he did not live up to his billing but he was fighting out of his weight class on the big stage for the first time. Now, he has a real test at his natural weight in Lorenz Larkin. Larkin was dazzling in his bout against Scott Lighty. If you haven't seen it, get thee to youtube for a glance. I don't know what Lorenz's ground game is like yet but his stand up is deadly. The winner of this bout should emerge as a new contender at Light Heavyweight in Strikeforce and MMA overall.
Then, later in July comes a historic moment in MMA. We will see two legends face off, something we rarely get a chance to see anymore in today's MMA world. Fedor vs Hendo might not have any title implications but if you have been a fan of this sport for the past decade you know how special this bout is. I'm not ready to write off Fedor completely in the heavyweight division but this fight was one that was just begging to be made and we are going to see it. A great time to be a fan of MMA. We will also likely see on this card the progression of ADCC multiple champ, Roger Gracie as he faces off against King Mo. If you have been a fan of MMA over the years the Gracie name needs no introduction. If you have been a fan of grappling and submission wrestling you know Roger is among, if not, the best in the world. King Mo will be his greatest test and will tell us if he can hang with the elite wrestlers in MMA. If Roger wins this bout decisively with a submission I believe it catapults him to the upper echelon of the division. It's a gigantic step in Roger's development and, along with Fedor vs Hendo, makes this card another must see for MMA fans.
August comes and we will see what the new matchmakers at Strikeforce have in store for us. It will be the first card they have total control over booking and that alone gives it some weight. Oh, and let's not forget about that pesky M-1 promotion. Like them or not, they will bring Bloody Elbow's #1 Heavyweight prospect, Guram Gugenishvili, to SHO on July 8th. The white gloves and the old style ring are a blast to watch and Guram is a special talent. You might want to check that out as well.
Soon, the Summer's heat will give way to Autumn breezes and the UFC will once again have some great main events to sell. It should begin with the delayed Maynard vs Edgar 3. Then we will likely see Cain Velasquez make his return to the Octagon against either Shane Carwin or Junior Dos Santos. I think Junior will prevail against Carwin. Along with whatever rub TUF gave him, and hopefully a decisive win over Carwin, his star should be as bright as it could be as he goes in to face Cain. I couldn't wait for that bout before and I am even more over the moon about it now. Jon Jones will have to defend his belt against someone. I'm all for seeing what he can do against Rampage, if he is successful against Hamill. Then there is the current biggest, active draw in MMA, GSP. I would say that by the time we are carving turkeys he will have a date with Nick Diaz. It's the biggest fight, aside from the Spider, they can give us, as fans, and GSP as a champion. I believe they will figure it out with SHO/Strikeforce and we will see this fight happen this year.
I know it has been a tough week. But, if you put it all in perspective, we have some special moments ahead of us, rare moments for MMA fans, even with all the canceled main events from these past weeks. Relish them, relish the fact that some of the most historical and highly anticipated fights of the year will come to you for the economical cost of a SHO subscription, and hell, you get to catch up on Dexter and Californiacation reruns at the same time. I don't know how much longer we will be able to say that, so enjoy it while it lasts, MMA fans. You don't know what you got till it's gone.