TUF Brazil 3 and UFC Fight Night: 5 Fights That You Must Watch
Must-See Fight #1: Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi
With 22 fights to pick from this weekend, the most intriguing fight for me is easily Munoz vs. Mousasi. It was a simple choice since there are only three Top 10 fighters competing this weekend (Munoz, Mousasi, Miocic), and two of them are facing each other. Both guys are coming off losses to Lyoto Machida. It could be argued that both fighters are at a crossroads in their career. Mousasi’s contract is one of the richest in the UFC outside of a PPV draw, and if he loses here, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave the UFC once his contract expires for greener pastures either in Asia or K-1. As for Munoz, he’s just 1-2 in his last 3 fights, and just turned 36 years old. If he loses here, forget any chance at ever again vying for a title shot. Plain and simple, the winner of this fight is likely going to find themselves rewarded with another main event slot opposite a Top 5 fighter. The fight itself also holds intrigue because there are still some lingering doubts as to whether Mousasi can stop the takedown. His conditioning seemed stunningly improved against Machida last time out, but there’s no denying he’s struggled at times against bigger, stronger wrestlers (Lawal, St.Preux). Munoz has the wrestling pedigree to exploit that weakness, but his lack of technical striking skills could spell the end for “The Filipino Wrecking Machine.”
Must-See Fight #2: Francis Carmont vs. C.B. Dollaway
2 years ago, I would have told you this fight would be buried on the undercard and probably nowhere close to being one of the most intriguing fights of the weekend. Yet, C.B. Dollaway has become a contender and quite the showman in the cage over his last few fights. Outside of a curious split decision loss to Tim Boetsch, Dollaway would be 4-0 against fairly stiff competition. Carmont’s fighting style has won him few fans, but he showed a bit more tenacity in his loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Both guys are on the fringe of the Top 10, so this fight is vital if either wants to fight a top contender next.
Must-See Fight #3: Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado
For some this is a freakshow fight. For others this is just a fun fight that will once again showcase just how tough Fabio Maldonado is. Miocic has broken in to the Top 10 of the Heavyweight division thanks to recent wins over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. He was set to face Junior dos Santos in the headliner, but JDS dropped out due to injury. In a way this is a step back for Miocic, but in my eyes it’s another opportunity to showcase his skills before taking on someone of JDS’ caliber. Maldonado is going to make this fight a firefight. I expect him to take some big punches, and try to land his own shots to the body, but he has his work cut out for him trying to drop a guy that Roy Nelson could not.
Must-See Fight #4: Luke Barnatt vs. Sean Strickland
Luke Barnatt is certainly one of England’s rising stars in the fight game today. He more than held his own on TUF 17, and has quickly gone 3-0 since making his UFC debut. Speaking of UFC debuts, Sean Strickland’s couldn’t have gone any better. He easily dominated TUF 17 alum Bubba McDaniel, and looked every bit of an undefeated 14-0 prospect. At this stage, Strickland’s ability against proven competition is somewhat questionable. Barnatt’s TUF experience and recent win over Andrew Craig have his stock quickly rising in the UFC Middleweight division. Another win here could earn him a fight against a Top 20 opponent. Both fighters have a combined 22-0 record, so the stakes will be high as to who will remain undefeated and move up the ranks.
Must-See Fight #5: Ruslan Magomedov vs. Viktor Pesta
It’s never a good sign to be the opening act for an upcoming fight card. Yet, at UFC Fight Night in Berlin, two promising Heavyweight newcomers will face off. Ruslan Magomedov has been highly-touted for the last couple of years, and after nearly debuting with Bellator, he is now set to make his first UFC appearance against undefeated Czech fighter Viktor Pesta. Magomedov should have the overall striking advantage, but Pesta can make this fight if he can get past the 1st round. The Heavyweight division needs new blood, and I’m hopeful the winner of this fight will move on to bigger and better things.