2011 may go down as one of the most prolific years in the young history of Mixed Martial Arts. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is going to keep the momentum going with four fight cards in the first two months of 2012. Three fights, in particular, not only look good on paper, but are significant in terms of championships and challengers.
The first fight worth noting is the co-main event of UFC on Fox 2 on January 28. Trash talking kingpin, Chael Sonnen takes on the Filipino Wrecking Machine, Mark Munoz with the winner becoming the number one contender for Anderson Silva’s Middleweight Championship. Sonnen and Munoz have squared off before in a college wrestling match. Munoz was beating Sonnen easily, so Sonnen decided to play dirty and go for a kneebar. A move illegal in collegiate wrestling. Years later, they’re now both elite fighters in UFC’s Middleweight Division, but many are not giving Munoz much of a chance. Even UFC president Dana White has said he’d like to see Silva vs Sonnen 2 happen in Brazil. Look for the Filipino Wrecking Machine to spoil those plans. Munoz has better wrestling, submissions and ground and pound.
The second fight happens Super Bowl weekend on February 4. The main event of UFC 143 was supposed to be for the Welterweight Championship, with Georges St-Pierre defending against Nick Diaz. Now that the champ has been sidelined for 10 months with a torn ACL and MCL, Nick Diaz will take on Carlos Condit for the interim Welterweight Championship. There’s one word to describe what will happen in this fight: Fireworks. These two men always come to fight. I see Diaz’s boxing eventually overwhelming Condit and a future match between Diaz and GSP to unify the titles.
The third fight will also be fireworks. UFC returns to Japan on February 25 and the main event will be Frankie Edgar defending his Lightweight Championship against Ben Henderson. Henderson ended 2010 by losing the WEC Lightweight Championship, but roared back in 2011 defeating Mark Bocek, and top contenders Jim Miller and Clay Guida to earn his title shot. These are two fast, well rounded fighters with deep gas tanks. This will be five rounds of fast, furious action and a fight of the year candidate with Edgar retaining his title via decision.
With the start of the year bringing so many great fights, I can hardly wait to see how the rest of 2012 goes. We will have future fights involving Alistair Overeem vs Junior Dos Santos for the Heavyweight Championship, Vitor Belfort vs Wanderlei Silva at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, and Jon Jones will defend the Lightweight Championship against Phil Davis, Rashad Evans or Dan Henderson. This could be a huge year for fight fans.