10 Best MMA Fights This Month
Every month, I will be providing the 10 best MMA fights around the world.
Jon Jones is set to defend his UFC Light Heavyweight title for the 7th straight time as he faces off against Brazilian Glover Teixeira. It is crazy to think that Glover didn’t even join the UFC until 2012 due to visa issues, but upon his debut, he’s gone 5-0 under the UFC banner. Teixeira’s chances of winning this fight are slim, but he does possess some big punching power along with some legitimate submissions skills. The main reason Glover has a slim chance of winning this fight has nothing to do with his own abilities, but rather the sheer dominance of the reigning champion. Jones has been downright dominant since winning the title in 2011. Jones’ last fight was his toughest to date, and you better believe that Jones has been training harder than ever to make sure he never suffers so much damage in a fight again.
In what is billed as a #1 contenders fight for the UFC Heavyweight title, Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum know they need to lay it all on the line in order to have an opportunity to fight Cain Velasquez. This fight comes down to a classic matchup of striker versus grappler. Werdum has found mixed success against strikers of Browne’s caliber. We have seen Werdum resort to butt scooting in fights with Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski. Some point to Werdum’s win over Fedor, but we have to remember that Fedor made a questionable mistake entering Werdum’s guard rather than keep the fight standing. Werdum’s BJJ is as good as it gets at Heavyweight, but he’s going to have a tall order getting inside Browne’s long reach to score a takedown. Browne’s weakness is likely his ground game, so Werdum is a legit threat, but after KO wins over Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem, momentum seems to be on the Hawaiian’s side.
Michael Bisping returns from a near career-ending eye injury to once again resume his journey towards a UFC Middleweight title shot. Outside of Gleison Tibau (21 fights), Michael Bisping is the longest-tenured (19 fights) active UFC fighter to never receive a title shot. Bisping has been on the cusp a few times, but he’s failed to capitalize on his opportunities. Now, at 35 years old, time may be running out for The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner. Tim Kennedy is somewhat flying under the radar as a title contender, but should he defeat Bisping, there’s no doubt that he puts himself in elite level company alongside Belfort, Jacare, and Rockhold.
Anthony Johnson make his return to the UFC after going 6-0 on the regional circuit. Johnson has finally gotten his weight issues under control, and has hopefully found his long-term home at Light Heavyweight. Johnson has a tall task in front of him upon re-entering the UFC Light Heavyweight division. His opponent, Phil Davis, has proven to be a difficult matchup for most 205-pounders. Johnson has the striking advantage on his side, but Davis has proven he can go 5 rounds, and should have a sizable wrestling advantage. The winner should immediately be in the mix for a future #1 Light Heavyweight contender bout.
Two Top 10 Lightweights are about to square off at UFC on FOX 11, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many headlines pointing out that fact. Both fighters prefer to let their fighting do the talking as each have quickly shot up the UFC Lightweight ranks over the last few months. Dos Anjos and Nurmagomedov are a combined 10-0 in the UFC since 2012. The winner of this fight will move one step closer to a possible #1 contenders bout. Nurmagomedov gets more impressive with each performance, but he cannot overlook Dos Anjos, who has improved his own wrestling over the last couple of years. They do share a common opponent in Gleison Tibau. Dos Anjos lost via decision to Tibau in 2011, while Nurmagomedov won a close decision over the Brazilian veteran one year later.
Donald Cerrone likes to stay active and has made it known to the MMA world that he never turns down a fight. He may end up regretting that decision as he faces leg-kicking extraordinaire Edson Barboza. Cerrone’s record against Top 10 competition is abysmal, so this will be an excellent barometer for Barboza’s credibility as a top-tier contender. For all Barboza’s striking talents, he’s struggled at times with his chin, nearly losing to Danny Castillo and having been finished by Jamie Varner. Cerrone should have the submission edge, but Barboza has proven to possess elite athleticism and sufficient takedown defense. Cerrone can’t allow Barboza to dictate the pace, so he will have to be active and looking for any opportunity to get this fight to the floor.
Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira have been pushed out of the UFC Heavyweight title picture over the last few years. Both fighters have their limitations, and it’s well known that Nogueira has struggled with injuries and his chin is not what it used to be. One still can’t overlook Nogueira’s heart though, and that could prove pivotal if this fight goes beyond the 1st round. Nelson has the tools to beat Nogueira, but his questionable gameplans have led him to lose 4 out of his last 8 fights. Nelson’s best chance of winning this fight is with his big right hand, but he can’t become too dependent on it should he start getting out-boxed by Nogueira.
Vitaly Minakov has been hyped be some as the second coming of Fedor Emelianenko. While the hype is warranted, Minakov has a lot of proving to do before meriting comparisons to Fedor. That journey towards legitimacy begins this weekend as Minakov faces his stiffest test to date in Cheick Kongo. Kongo is no longer the force he once was, but he has still held his own against most mid-level competition (Matt Mitrione, Shawn Jordan). Kongo has not fared well against stiffer opposition though, and by most accounts Minakov is just that. Kongo’s chin is extremely questionable, though he has pulled out some miracles (Pat Barry).
Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri have been stalwarts in the Lightweight rankings over the last few years. Yet, both fighters still have some proving to do in regards to gaining traction amongst the current crop of Featherweight title contenders. Both fighters prefer to rely on their wrestling skills, so assuming they could cancel each other out, this could come down to their striking. Guida’s movement and footwork have improved over the years, though he’s lost much of his fanfare since making a strategic decision to avoid the wild exchanges that once made him a regular Fight of the Night winner. Kawajiri has to be the aggressor and not let Guida’s hijinks frustrate him. This could end up being a very difficult fight for the judges to score.
Luke Rockhold’s UFC debut didn’t go as expected. Had he beaten Vitor Belfort, he likely would be fighting Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight title. Instead, Rockhold has been relegated to fighting fringe Top 10 competition like Costa Philippou. Rockhold quickly showed in his bout with Philippou that he is a cut above most 185-pounders. Tim Boetsch has pulled off some upsets in his UFC tenure, but he’s going to be hard-pressed to counter Rockhold’s athleticism and superior repertoire of skills.