UFC: An Introduction

(Author’s Note: I know that there are a ton of organizations that promote MMA fights; these posts will focus heavily on the UFC since it’s the most well known and the one I watch the most. Enjoy!)

Dear reader, do me a big favor: make some noise/get excited if you’re a big fight fan!

Wait, what’s that, Skeptical Hippo? You don’t think the reader will get excited? You don’t think our readers will know about the awesome fights coming out over the next few weeks?

Hmmmph. Well, we’ll have to see what we can do about that.

In an effort to kindle some of that passion, I’d like to give you, dear reader, a little preview of the major events in the UFC for the next couple weeks. There are three big events that I’ll touch on, and then in future columns I’ll go a bit more in depth to provide some more analysis, or predictions, or maybe just some silly observations and jokes about people getting their faces turned into hamburger by muscled, tattooed grumpypantses.

UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida

When: Friday, June 22 9PM

Where: the FX channel (basic cable)

Why you should watch: UFC’s deal with FOX has provided a pretty solid feeder system for new fight fans, allowing you to dip your toes in the water and watch some contenders and potential risers through the ranks. Fox currently has three networks that broadcast UFC fights: Fox, FX, and Fuel TV (although Fuel is one of those sports network extra cable package kinda deals, so that one’s a little harder to come by). And in this man’s opinion, they’ve done the best job with their FX shows so far. They’ve had a lot of fun cards with solid finishes and scrappy fighters, especially among the lighter fighters.

The headliners of this event, Clay Guida and Gray Maynard, should put on a pretty solid show. Two of the top-ranked lightweights, they are both trying to prove that they deserve to be in the conversation for the title. Clay “The Carpenter” Guida is almost always a fan favorite; he bounces around the cage like a maniac and never seems to stop. And Gray Maynard seems to want to abandon his previous slow, grinding wrestling in favor of developing the knockout power in his left hand. We’ll get to see which one of these two men gets to remain in the top spots in the already crowded Lightweight division.

I’m very interested to see Gray Maynard in action. When he fights another solid wrestler, he tends to try out that thunderous boxing, and Guida is definitely a great wrestler. And Maynard desperately needs a great win after an amazing draw and then a heartbreaking knockout loss from former champ Frankie Edgar. 2011 was a rough year for Mr. Maynard, and he’ll be looking for a savage finish.

Having said all that, Clay Guida can take a punch. Or a kick. Or a hit with a baseball bat. Or whatever. He’s a really hard man to finish, so it’ll be interesting to see if The Bully can in fact push around the Carpenter.

Others to watch: Spencer Fisher vs. Sam Stout (Lightweights), Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas (Featherweights)

UFC 147: Silva vs. Franklin 2

When: Saturday, June 23 10PM

Where: PPV (Your local sports bar/your buddy’s house)

Why you should watch: To be honest, if you’re going to skip one event this summer, it should be this one. This event has unfortunately been severely plagued by injuries; although The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil coach Vitor Befort had to pull out against his bout with Wanderlei Silva, UFC pinch-hitter Rich Franklin will be jumping in for a rematch of a very exciting and memorable fight where Franklin was able to win last time via split decision. This main event will be fun, as these two have proven that they can go the distance in a very fun and satisfying fashion where neither shrinks from the action.

Why I’m hesitant: The problem with this card, as I hinted at before, is the injuries. Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei was already a stretch because Wanderlei has a tough claim at a title run given his last few fights in the UFC. And since Franklin has lost to current long-running champ Anderson Silva twice in decisive, violent fashion (he had to have facial reconstructive surgery after being brutalized by Silva’s devastating Muy Thai knees), it seems unlikely that he’ll get another shot at the title anytime soon. So this fight isn’t really all that important. Also the undercard is basically in shambles due to those aforementioned injuries, so it’s tough to justify buying this PPV. If you’re around a sports bar, I’d definitely still check it out, but otherwise you might want to take a night off.

Other fights to watch: Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow (Heavyweight)

UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2

When: Saturday, July 7 10PM

Where: PPV

Why you should watch: This fight features the best fighter to ever step into a cage against the only man to ever make him look beatable. Anderson Silva is unbeaten in the UFC. Let me restate that: Anderson Silva is 14-0 in the UFC, having defended his title 10 times and having finished 12 of those 14 within the Octagon. Those numbers are unreal. And watching him do it is even more unreal; he makes TITLE CONTENDERS look like rank amateurs. They can’t even hit him unless he is cool with it, and when he turns it on his opponents are basically helpless.

And then there’s Chael Sonnen. Chael Sonnen is the only fighter Anderson Silva has ever faced (with the possible exception of his Round One against Dan Henderson) where Silva has looked bad, and Chael Sonnen beat the pulp out of Silva for 4.5 out of the 5 round title fight in August 2010 until Silva threw up a Hail Mary triangle choke, which miraculously landed and allowed Silva to salvage a victory out of the jaws of defeat.

Chael Sonnen is the only man at middleweight that can beat Anderson Silva. He is the best there is in the UFC at implementing his own gameplan and forcing the opponent to react to it. His aggressive and ferocious wrestling is good at completely stifling his opponent’s gameplan, and his gas tank is very solid. This could easily be the best fight of the summer. Please go watch it. If this clip doesn’t get you excited, I can do nothing for you.

Also interesting should be the third and final match between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin, which should be the last match of Ortiz’s historic career. In the latter days of Ortiz’s days as a relevant contender, he beat up-and-comer Griffin in a tough match that forced Griffin to re-examine his methods inside the cage (Griffin later won the Light-Heavyweight title, so this change proved very good for him). Griffin later beat Ortiz in a similarly tough match. This fight won’t really mean anything, but it should be a really good scrap as these two have proven that they match up very well.

Other fights to watch: Forrest Griffin vs Tito Ortiz (Light Heavyweight), Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote (Middleweight), Melvin Guillard vs. Fabricio Camoes (Lightweight)

Hopefully, this will serve to whet your appetites for the fights, and later this week I’ll try to give some predictions and more of an in-depth look for this upcoming weekend full of fights!

And if there’s anything that you’d like explained about MMA, or something that you’d like some more detail about, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’d love to tell you all about it.

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