Instead of reporting the recent fight announcements individually, I decided to just do one post to cover a few of the recent matchups that are coming about.
Jon Jones vs Ryan Bader at UFC 127
We wondered if the UFC would willingly pit these two against each other. One faction of the media and fans believe that the UFC should wait as long as possible on putting the fight together. The thinking behind that is you don't want to eliminate a potential contender to the title. The other faction thinks the best guys should fight the best guys at the right times no matter what. I tend to side with the latter. There isn't a good reason to wait for this fight. Winner probably gets the winner of Lyoto Machida vs Quinton Jackson in a number one contender fight. My early pick is Jones and that's not likely to change. He's got too many tools to win.
Antonio McKee vs Jacob Volkmann at UFC 125
It took a while but McKee finally made his way to the UFC. The problem the UFC has, and what likely took so long to bring him in, is his ridiculously boring fighting style. Fans of today have absolutely zero patience for a wrestler who takes his opponent down and rides his way to a decision. McKee calls it smart and says he will never change a successful strategy, no matter how much the fans complain. I can't blame him for that. He's won 14 of his last 15 fights including 11 in a row. It was time to bring him in, no matter how boring he may or may not be. He's also 40 and time is running out on his career. They didn't exactly give him a big fight for his debut but Volkmann is a wrestler who will provide a nice test for him. It seems like a fight for the UFC to get a better gauge of where he is at in his career. Don't be surprised if this fight is on the preliminary card.
Frank Edgar vs Gray Maynard at UFC 125
We knew this fight was going to happen, we just didn't know when. It appears the fight will take place on New Year's Day at the as of yet unannounced UFC 125. The matchup looks pretty clear cut to me. Edgar beat BJ Penn twice with speed and elusiveness. Maynard has the perfect style to shut that down. If he gets his hands on him and works his top control it could be a five round snoozer. The bigger story going into this event will be whether or not the UFC can sell it well enough to get a decent PPV buyrate out of it. The rumored card right now includes these two, McKee vs Volkmann, Chris Leben vs Brian Stann and Thiago Silva vs Branden Vera. Not a bad card for the hardcores but the casual fan looks at that, shrugs and does something else with their Saturday night. They need to supplement this with a big co-main event. Forrest Griffin, maybe?
Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort at UFC 127
Just like Edgar-Maynard, we knew this fight was going down; we just didn't know when. Belfort announced on his Twitter that it's set for the Super Bowl weekend show on February 5th. Unlike 125, this event looks loaded already. Silva-Belfort main event with a Jones-Bader co-main event. It might not sell as well as the bigger cards but it'll do much better than 125. I'm not sure what to make of Silva after what happened at UFC 117. Yes, he was largely outwrestled, which was expected, but he was also outstruck in the beginning of the fight and he looked noticeably slower than times past. How much of that had to do with the injured rib? We have no way of knowing until the fight happens. His hands were always faster than every one of his previous opponents. That changes with this fight. Belfort is a boxer with the speed and quickness to give Silva some trouble. Technically, I think Silva wins a stand up fight 8 times out of 10 but if Belfort can touch his chin with the kind of power he's shown in the past, we could end up seeing Silva knocked out for the first time. It's an intriguing matchup that's likely going to be a glorified boxing match.
Paul Daley vs Scott Smith at Strikeforce: Henderson vs Sobral
It was no surprise that Strikeforce signed Daley. After what he did to Josh Koscheck, I don't have a whole lot of interest in him. I'll cover him for the site but speaking personally, he shouldn't be allowed to fight. There is no room ever for a fighter to conduct themselves in the manner in which he chose. Adding to it is the fact that he has shown absolutely zero remorse for his actions. But Strikeforce is willing to employ a blatantly known cheater in Josh Barnett, so why not Daley? They did the right thing by giving him a fight with Smith. He'll be in no danger of getting taken down and it will be the striking war that fans adore so much. He'll probably win, as Smith doesn't offer much in the way of defense, and he'll go on to face Nick Diaz in a match that will feature two of the most unsportsmanlike fighters in the history of MMA. At least, it should be a good fight.