The anticipation for UFC 200 has created a lot of buzz in the MMA world, and there is no shortage of fighters seeking a spot in that legendary card. However, there are a lot of interesting fights scheduled before July’s UFC 200. The most notable ones being Jones vs Cormier II, Weidman vs Rockhold II, Faber vs Cruz III, among others. All of those fights are amazing in their own right, and so are the cards for UFC 197 and 199. The problem is that the best card prior to UFC 200 just might be 198, and there is not a whole lot of people talking about it. The card is full of fresh, exciting, and fan friendly fights involving some of the biggest mixed martial arts fighters of all time. The event is scheduled to take place May 14th in Curitiba, Brazil. In addition to the great fights, the event will be held at Arena da Baixada, which will be the first UFC stadium event in Brazil. 

The undercard will likely have some main card worthy fights, such as Cris Cyborg’s UFC debut, and hot prospect Warlley Alves taking on Bryan Barberena. Rumors of Cyborg’s potential UFC debut have been thrown around quite a bit over the past few years. The speculation is over as she has been added to UFC 198 to fight Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds. The anticipated match up with Ronda Rousey will not happen at her debut, but it is a huge step towards that potential fight. Cyborg has dominated Invicta FC’s featherweight division, and hopes to shake up women’s MMA in the UFC. Smith fought recently at UFC Fight Night Hunt vs Mir, and beat Rin Nakai via unanimous decision.  

On the other hand, the undefeated top prospect Warlley Alves is looking to move up the rankings in the very tough Welterweight division. Alves has finished his last two fights by submission both being guillotines, including the first round stoppage of Colby Covington at UFC 194. The talent of Alves is undeniable, but can he make some noise in one of the most stacked divisions. Bryan Barberena is no stranger to undefeated hot prospects, since his last fight was against Sage Northcutt. Barberena pulled a big upset against Northcutt, by submitting the young phenom in the second round. The question is can he do it again, or is Alves too skilled? 

Things get very interesting in the main card with important fights like Demian Maia vs Matt Brown, Anderson Silva vs Uriah Hall, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs Vitor Belfort, and the heavyweight championship bout between Stipe Miocic and Fabricio Werdum. As mentioned before, the Welterweight division is super deep with talented young fighters as well as tough and skilled veterans. A clash of top ten ranked veterans could have title shot implications, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demian Maia faces “The Immortal” Matt Brown. Brown has gone the distance against the last two Welterweight champions in the past, and he is looking to build on his latest submission win over Tim Means. He has a very tough task in the form of Maia, and this should be a very entertaining fight to watch. The winner will likely enter the top five and put himself in the position of fighting for a shot at UFC gold. 

If you enjoy striking battles, then you should love the matchup between Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva. It might be safe to say that nobody is shooting for a takedown in this on, but you just might see a knockout of the year candidate. Both fighters are coming off disappointing losses, but they are still top ten in the Middleweight division. The winner would take a step closer to a shot at the winner of  UFC 199’s main event, and most likely a spot in the top five. The fight should be very fan friendly and thrilling from start to finish, so make sure you don’t blink during this one.

The next fight has even more influence on the Middleweight division, as it should definitely provide the next number one contender. The number two ranked middleweight “Jacare” Souza will meet number three ranked Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the co-main event. Two guys with major knockout power, so this could easily be a quick one. There is nobody currently at middleweight or maybe even the entire UFC roster who has better Brazillian Jiu Jitsu than Souza, so If the fight goes to the ground he will certainly have the advantage. Souza lost his last fight to Yoel Romero in a very controversial fight, but he is looking to finally get that shot at the belt. Vitor’s last fight was a first round KO of Dan Henderson, and he hopes to get a rematch against either Weidman or Rockhold.

The main event is the Heavyweight championship of the world, as Fabricio Werdum defends his title for the first time against Stipe Miocic. Werdum was scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez in a rematch earlier this year, but Cain suffered a back injury. The UFC offered Miocic as a replacement to Werdum, but the champ was also injured. Nonetheless, they will fight in May and it should be a great fight between two warriors. Both men are very well trained and they can hit, so this could also be a quick fight as are most Heavyweight bouts. Fabricio’s tremendous ground game could be the x factor in this matchup, but it is not a grappling match so anything could happen. Two of the baddest men on the planet fighting for glory is a great way to close out an amazing card of fights. It is a great time to be an MMA fan, and the future looks very bright for the sport. 

Joao V. Gomes

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

UFC Fight Night 26 went down on August 17th, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.  It was the UFC’s debut on FOX Sports 1 and other than a couple of sleep inducing fights the event was a major success.  There were front kicks, quick knockouts and nasty submissions.  There were a ton of highlights to choose from while compiling my three stars, but as always I can’t include them all, so, here are my favorites from UFC Fight Night 26.

Third Star: Chael Sonnen

“The American Gangster” always promises epic performances, but he doesn’t always deliver.  So, when he fights like he did at UFC Fight Night 26, you’ve got to be impressed.  It’s not like Sonnen was facing an unknown, his opponent was former UFC light heavyweight champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.  Joe Rogan and Jon Anik tried their best to convince the television audience that Rua could hang with Sonnen on the ground, boy were they wrong.  Chael wasted very little time once the fight got to the mat, thanks to a Shogun takedown, and he slapped on a nasty guillotine choke which forced the tapout in the very first round.  Instead of celebrating, he used his post-fight interview to call out Wanderlei Silva.  We now know that Sonnen will actually be facing another former light heavyweight champion in “Suga” Rashad Evans.  But, it is that aggressive attitude that earned Chael Sonnen my third star for UFC Fight Night 26.

Second Star: Matt Brown

Is there anyone in the UFC’s welterweight division that is hotter than Matt Brown? Yes, his name is Georges St. Pierre and he happens to be the UFC welterweight champion, as if you didn’t already know that.  But honestly, Brown looks like an unstoppable force lately.  He got right down to business, finishing Mike Pyle with punches at UFC Fight Night 26 and it only took him 29 seconds, to be exact.  Brown still needs to beat a legitimate top 10 opponent before Dana White will consider giving him a title shot, and he’ll get that chance when he faces Carlos Condit at UFC on FOX 9, which is scheduled to take place December 14th, 2013 in Sacramento, California.  However, if “The Immortal” continues his incredible run, UFC matchmakers will have a tough time ignoring him.  If Brown does get by Condit and the UFC still refuses to give him a title shot, I’d like to see him face the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald.  Until Brown gets another victory he can relish in the glory of being my 2nd star for UFC Fight Night 26.

First Star: Travis Browne

I was worried that Browne’s loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva would mess with his head.  If it did, he showed no signs of it when he met Alistair Overeem on August 17th.  If anyone was negatively affected by a recent loss to Silva it may have been Overeem.  Travis Browne could have been holding a sign that said “I am going to use my front kick, until you either block it or it lands” and it wouldn’t have mattered.  I’m not sure if it was over confidence or ignorance that had Overeem moving forward with reckless abandon.  However, we must not lose sight of Browne’s brilliance in this fight.  He survived a vicious attack from Overeem early in the 1st and then flipped the switch on his way to a highlight reel front kick knockout.  Travis will likely need another win or two to move into title contention, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for UFC Fight Night 26’s 1st star.

Normally this would be where I’d try to give you reasons to watch the upcoming UFC event.  However, all you need to do is look at the fight card for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26 and you’ll have all the information you need.  This event is stacked, that’s all there is to say about it.  If you don’t watch it, well that’s your loss and don’t say I didn’t warn you.  I put some thought into these predictions, but it’s unlikely that it will pay off, it is just my luck.

Michael Johnson (12-8 MMA, 4-4 UFC) vs. Joe Lauzon (22-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC)

Joe Lauzon could fight a cardboard cutout of himself and it would still win ‘Fight of the Night’.  He is just that entertaining.  But, Lauzon is coming off a loss to Jim Miller in one of the best matchups of 2012.  That means he is going to be even more dangerous than usual, this is bad news for his next opponent, Michael Johnson.

For Johnson this is an enormous opportunity.  If he can defeat Joe Lauzon, I will instantly forget about any of his past disappointments.  The one thing he has going for him is his athleticism.  He is probably a more complete athlete than Lauzon, but anyone who has seen Joe fight knows that does’t matter.  Lauzon is going to submit Michael Johnson and will win ‘Submission of the Night’.  I hope that’s a bold enough prediction for you.

Prediction: Lauzon via 1st round submission

 

Uriah Hall (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. John Howard (20-8 MMA, 4-3 UFC)

Originally, Hall was scheduled to fight Nick Ring.  But, sometimes an injury to a fighter gives us an even better matchup.  This is one of those times, because we now get Uriah Hall vs. John Howard.  “Doomsday” is making his return to the octagon after being released by the UFC in 2011.  Hall will be fighting for the first time since losing in the TUF 17 finals to Kelvin Gastulem.

Before we start talking about Hall and how much of a beast he is, we must acknowledge John Howard.  He is one very scary dude.  He is 6-1 since leaving the UFC with 5 of those 6 wins coming via TKO or knockout.  I think Howard is a much tougher matchup for Hall than Nick Ring would have been.  Plus, I think John Howard is a good enough wrestler to keep Hall from getting comfortable on his feet.  Now, with all that being said, Uriah Hall is a beast.  His stand-up skills are explosive to say the least.  And, he is going to want to redeem himself after a less than impressive performance against Gastulem.  All of these factors are going to combine to make for a very competitive fight.  I like John “Doomsday” Howard to get a unanimous decision victory.

Prediction: Howard via unanimous decision

 

Mike Pyle (25-8-1 MMA, 8-3 UFC) vs. Matt Brown (17-11 MMA, 10-5 UFC)

The term “darkhorse” could be used to describe either Mike Pyle or Matt Brown.  The two welterweights are on impressive winning streaks, Brown has come out on top in his last five fights, including wins over Jordan Mein and Mike Swick.  Pyle hasn’t lost since 2011 against 170lb contender Rory MacDonald and has now won four straight fights.

This matchup should be a war.  Pyle and Brown have excellent chins and have proven in the past that they are hard to put away.  Brown enjoys getting in slugfests, but don’t be fooled by that, he is extremely technical.  Mike Pyle is also very technical with his striking and submission attacks.  Whoever wins this will likely get a high profile opponent in their next octagon appearance.  In my opinion Pyle stole a win from Rick Story in his last fight.  For that reason and that reason only, I think karma will sting him and Matt Brown will get a split decision victory.

Prediction: Brown via split decision

 

Urijah Faber (28-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC) vs. Yuri Alcantara (28-4 1NC MMA, 3-1 1NC UFC)

This is plain and simple, it is not a title fight, and therefore Urijah Faber will win. But I don’t think it will come too easily.  Yuri Alcantara is a tough challenge for anyone, even if you are “The California Kid”.  I don’t see Alcantara as having reached his full potential just yet.  Urijah will bounce around and avoid any significant damage, as long as he doesn’t allow Alcantara’s size advantage to play a major role in the matchup.  Faber wins this one by unanimous decision.

Prediction: Faber via unanimous decision

 

Travis Browne (14-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) vs. Alistair Overeem (36-12-1NC MMA, 1-1 UFC)

There is nothing like a good old fashioned heavyweight war.  There should be no shortage of action when Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne meet inside the octagon.  Overeem will be looking for redemption and Browne will be looking for the biggest win of his MMA career.

It’s easy to say that Travis Browne is the more dynamic striker in this fight.  But, Overeem has way more experience against high level competition.  And, I bet Alistair is getting sick of hearing about his lack of respect for his last opponent Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.  A highlight reel finish of Browne would go a long way towards erasing the Silva fight from the memories of MMA fans, which is what Overeem wants.  However, he is going to have his hands full with Browne.  If the fight goes the distance it should favor Travis Browne, but if either of these men is going to get a stoppage it will be Alistair Overeem.  I think “The Reem” will catch Browne early in the second and finish the fight.

Prediction: Overeem via 2nd round TKO

 

Chael Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC) vs. Mauricio Rua (21-7 MMA, 5-5 UFC)

Neither of these guys can afford to lose this fight.  Sonnen looked like an imposter when he fought Jon Jones for the light-heavyweight title earlier this year.  Meanwhile, Rua was less than spectacular against Alexander Gustafsson.  It’s doubtful that either fighter will ever challenge for a UFC title again, but a win could keep them on the right side of the fence.

It’s clear what the gameplans will be for both Sonnen and Rua heading into Saturday night’s main event.  Chael needs to do what he does best, wear his opponent down on the mat, and get a unanimous decision or submission victory.  However, Rua’s gameplan will be the complete opposite.  His best chance of winning this fight is on the feet.  “Shogun” is still an elite striker, if he catches Sonnen the fight could end in the blink of an eye.  Listen; if Alexander Gustafsson was able to take Rua down, there is no reason to think Sonnen won’t do the same.   “The American Gangster” is going to win this fight.  I just hope he keeps the trash talking to a minimal in his post-fight interview, because it is starting to irritate me.

Prediction: Chael Sonnen via unanimous decision

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

You wouldn’t have to search very hard to find an example of a weak UFC fight card.  In fact, next weekend’s UFC 161 fits the bill perfectly.  After a couple of injuries the event is now being headlined by Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson.  It is a decent main event, but after that the lineup resembles a free TV card, except it’s airing on pay-per-view.  This isn’t the first time this has happened, we all remember UFC 151.

So it was a relief when Dana White and company began announcing August’s UFC on FOX Sports 1:1 fight card.  Not only will it be free, it is also stacked with exciting matchups.  As long as the fighters stay healthy the event could set matchmaking standards for future UFC events.

UFC on FOX Sports 1:1 will be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-7 MMA, 5-5 UFC) and Chael Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC).  Rua was supposed to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 161, but an injury forced “Little Nog” to withdraw.  Sonnen did offer his services as a late replacement, unfortunately visa issues made him unavailable.  Instead of rescheduling the original matchup, the UFC decided to have Sonnen vs. Rua headline the UFC on FOX Sports 1 debut.

The bout should end up being very competitive.  It will pit the elite wrestling skills of Sonnen against Shogun’s elite striking.  If for some reason the fight is boring, at least we’ll get two months of Chael Sonnen trash talk leading up to it.  You’ve got to admit, the guy knows how to sell a fight.

The co-main event will be a heavyweight showdown, with Travis Browne (14-1-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC) facing Alistair Overeem (36-12-1NC MMA, 1-1 UFC).  Browne is coming off a first round TKO victory over Gabriel Gonzaga, while Overeem was knocked out by Antonio Silva the last time he was in the octagon.  Both of these men are excellent strikers, so fans should expect a standup war.  Overeem definitely has more experience, but I have to give the speed advantage to Browne.  Whoever is victorious will move themselves closer to contender status in the UFC heavyweight division.

Urijah Faber (28-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC) will lend whatever star power he has left to the Fox Sports 1 card, when he takes on dangerous Brazilian Yuri Alcantara (28-4-1NC MMA, 3-1-1NC UFC).  Although casual fans won’t be too familiar with Alcantara, he should be a good challenge for Faber.  It will be interesting to see how “The California Kid” deals with the size of his opponent, who is a very large bantamweight.

If Matt Brown (17-11 MMA, 10-5 UFC) vs. Thiago Alves (19-9 MMA, 11-6 UFC) does not end up being a bloodbath, I’ll be very disappointed.  It should be Brown’s biggest challenge yet and a win over Alves will confirm his status as a legitimate welterweight contender.  Meanwhile, if Thiago Alves can bring an end to Matt Brown’s incredible winning streak, it would be a major statement to the rest of the 170lb division.

There are still two fights left on the main card.  TUF 17 finalist Uriah Hall (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will make his official UFC debut against Nick Ring (13-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC).  The fact that Hall is a human highlight reel is the only reason you need to watch this fight.

Joe Lauzon (22-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and Michael Johnson (12-8 MMA, 5-4 UFC) will kick off the main card broadcast with a lightweight matchup.  Lauzon could change his nickname to “Mr. Bonus” and no one would complain.  Obviously Joe is a bonus machine, but Michael Johnson’s athleticism should keep him in the fight.  If Johnson can defeat Joe Lauzon it would be the biggest victory of his career.  However, Lauzon is coming off a loss against Jim Mille and he’ll be hungry to get back in the win column.

In addition to the main card the prelims will feature a bantamweight fight between contenders Michael McDonald and Brad Pickett.  Former Cage Warriors two division champion Conor McGregor, Mike Brown and Diego Brandao are among the other fighters on the preliminary card.

UFC on FOX Sports 1:1 is stacked from top to bottom.  It’s too bad it won’t happen until August.  We’ll just have to patiently wait for what could be the summer’s best MMA event.  To see the entire fight card click here and keep checking back with Profightingfans.com for further updates.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer