UFC cards for the rest of the year are quickly filling up. Just this morning, it seems that a new fight has been announced every ten minutes. Title fights, co-main events, and other fights featuring high profile veterans and prospects are sure to hog the spotlight when it comes to media headlines and blog posts over the next few months. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some upcoming fights that might fly under the radar a bit in the MMA blogosphere but are still deserving of our attention. I'll pick a fight from each upcoming card that is likely to go unnoticed but might produce a contender nonetheless. Let's do it.
Both of these guys have been very impressive thus far in their respective UFC runs. Hendricks entered the UFC with a splash, stopping TUF winner Amir Sadollah with strikes in the first round. He also holds a stoppage victory over Charlie "Rocky Balboa" Brenneman and has compiled a UFC record of 5-1, with his only loss coming to current contender Rick Story. Pierce, too, entered the UFC and made a statement by besting former WEC title challenger Brock Larson. In his next bout, he was competitive with top contender Jon Fitch. With a 4-1 record under the bright lights, Pierce will be trying to make a serious statement against Hendricks. The winner of this one is sure to receive a top contender in his next bout and will likely be featured on a main card somewhere.
UFC LIVE 5
Herman returned from a long layoff to knockout the very tough Tim Credeur in very impressive fashion. While he's had an up and down UFC career thus far, a lot of his setbacks are due to simple bad luck; his knee gave out against Aaron Simpson and he was on the wrong side of a very close split decision against current contender Alan Balcher. Noke, on the other hand, has posted three stoppages in three bouts under the UFC banner since his time on TUF. He also holds notable pre-UFC victories over George Sotiropoulos, Brian Ebersole, and Kyacey Uscola, in addition to a draw with current Bellator champ Hector Lombard. Both men are generally involved in exciting fights and this one should be no different. Just like Hendricks vs. Pierce, expect the winner of this one to receive a serious step up in competition in his next bout.
More after the jump.
Luiz Cane vs. Stanislov Nedkov
After suffering back-to-back stoppages at the hands of K1 level striker Cyrille Diabete and former top ten stalwart Rogerio Nogueira, Luiz Cane rebounded with an impressive knockout of Elliot Marshall. In Nedkov, he will be facing an undefeated fighter who enters the UFC with wins over the likes of Trevor Prangley and Kevin Randleman on his resume. Cane is likely the toughest test of Nedkov's career, while Nedkov is definitely a step above Cane's last opponent. Keep an eye on the winner of this one as he'll be primed for big things moving forward.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT 25
Normally TUF winners receive less-than-stellar fighters for their first post-show fight. For whatever reason, the UFC instead decided to throw Brookins to the wolves as they matched him up with the top ten-ranked Erik Koch. The former WEC fighter has earned Knockout of the Night bonuses in his last two outings and has posted a 4-1 record in Zuffa-promoted contests. The winner of this one will be inching very close to a title shot, especially if it's Koch, so make sure not to miss this one.
Browne scored a highlight reel knockout over the 6'11" Stefan Struve in his last bout. Combine that with his draw over the surging Cheick Kongo and he's ready to make a splash in the UFC. Broughton will be looking to steal a bit of his thunder in a fight that the judges can take a nap during, as it isn't going to the scorecards. If Browne can earn another impressive stoppage, it won't be long before Joe Silva pits him up against a name like Carwin or Mir.
While only 1-0 in his UFC career, Herman has been dominating regional competition in the states and Japan for years now. Against Russow, he'll be up against an 11-1 fighter with stoppage victories over the likes of Roman Zentsov, Todd Duffee, and Jon Madsen. I think Herman should take it, but Russow should not be counted out based on his grappling acumen and heavy hands. Like the other fights on this list, the winner of this should earn a step up in competition in his next outing. Don't blink.