The 10 best MMA Fights of the Weekend – Volume 9
Every week, I will be providing the 10 best MMA fights of the weekend.
The first time Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua squared off, their bout drew praise as a near lock for the 2011 Fight of the Year. Since that fight, both men have struggled against top tier competition, going just 2-5 overall. It is clear that Henderson and Rua are past their primes, and will likely never fight for a title again, but this rematch is exactly the type of fight that can make them relevant again. Rua seems to be healthier heading into this fight, but you can never count out Henderson’s big right hand.
Attila Vegh has not fought since winning the Bellator Light Heavyweight title in 2013. During that time, Emanuel Newton has laid claim as the top contender in the division, having bested Muhammed Lawal twice. Vegh and Newton have already faced each other once, in a bout that ended via split decision. Vegh’s inactivity could hurt him in this fight as Newton seems to be riding a ton of momentum. The winner of this fight will defend their title against the winner of Rampage-King Mo.
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira has been considered a prospect to watch for as long as I can remember. The Vitor Belfort-protege won Season 1 of TUF Brazil, and has looked impressive since joining the UFC’s ranks. C.B. Dollaway will be Ferreira’s first true test as looks to climb the Middleweight ladder. Ferreira’s chin has been questionable at times, and though Dollaway’s striking has looked much improved, he will likely need to use his wrestling in order to pull off another victory in Brazil.
Rony Jason is probably the most popular fighter to come off of TUF Brazil. The UFC looked to be pushing him towards contention, but it may have come a bit too soon as he was brutally knocked out by Jeremy Stephens in his last fight. This is a crucial fight for Jason to show that he can hang with upper tier talent. Some have knocked Steven Siler for his pedestrian record, but the guy has gone 18-4 over his last 22 fights. Siler also holds recent wins over Mike Brown and Cole Miller, proving that he can hang with stiffer competition. The cards will be stacked against Siler to win, but I expect both men to come out swinging, and you never know with these 4 oz. gloves.
Both of these fighters are at a crossroads in their careers. Formiga is just 1-2 since joining the UFC. Once thought to be the top Flyweight in the world, he has looked rather pedestrian against the likes of Benavidez and Dodson. Meanwhile, it wasn’t that long ago that Jorgensen was fighting for the WEC Bantamweight title. Now, he’s muddled in a 1-4 stretch that possibly has him on the verge of being released. Formiga will have the grappling advantage, but the question is if he will be able to get Jorgensen to the floor.
Two recent international TUF winners will square off as TUF Smashes representative Norman Parke takes on TUF Brazil 2’s Leonard Santos. There is no secret as to what Santos’ gameplan will be. He needs to somehow get this fight to the ground where he can let his deadly jiu-jitsu game take over. Parke has gone 3-0 under the UFC banner, but he is not unbeatable by any means. His ground game is probably his main weakness, so he will need to keep this fight standing to grind out a victory. He should have the striking, cardio and athleticism advantage.
Sergei Kharitonov was one of the few big names not to make the transfer over from Strikeforce to the UFC. The main reason supposedly has to do with Kharitonov’s desire to continue kickboxing. Nonetheless, Sergei is still one of the most heavy-handed fighters in the sport today. He’ll be facing up and coming prospect Tyler East, who has experienced his fair share of troubles outside of the cage as of late.
This might be Patricky Freire’s last chance at winning a Bellator tournament. He has struggled as of late with his cardio and chin, evidenced by his 1-3 over his last 4 fights. Rickels will look to test that chin early and often as he’s proven to be a banger.
This should prove to be a wrestler (Villante) vs. striker (Maldonado) matchup as both men prefer to win their fights in different fashion. Maldonado certainly has the experience advantage, but he has luckily avoided too many fights against wrestlers of Villante’s caliber. Villante may be a solid wrestler, but make no mistake his striking still has a ways to go. Fabio Maldonado can win this fight if he can make it past the 1st round. This fight could end up resembling Maldonado’s war with Kyle Kingsbury from a few years back.
Jonathan Brookins has not fought since December of 2012. After a journey to India, filled with life experiences and deep reflection, Brookins has decided to return to the cage. Brookins may be a changed man spiritually, but he will also be a changed man physically as he is making a remarkable move down to the Flyweight division. Yes, you read that right, 125 lbs. For those that don’t remember Jonathan Brookins won Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter as a Lightweight (155 lbs.). Brookins is a tough, durable fighter that should merit interest from the UFC with a couple more wins on the regional circuit.
Photo Credit: www.sherdog.com, Gleidson Venga