Ranking the UFC title fights to end 2013

The UFC has made a lot of noise about its schedule to end 2013.

I can’t argue with the organization, because the year is ending (barring injuries) with a tremendous series of title fights. Here is how I rank which title fights I am most looking forward to:

7. Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 (for UFC Interim Bantamweight title) – Barao is really a fighter that deserves more pound-for-pound credit. The guy has been a wrecking machine for quite some time. No disrespect to Eddie Wineland, who is a gritty fighter, but I don’t think he is in the same class as the champion. Wineland has a puncher’s chance, but this should be an easy defense for Barao.

6. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate at UFC 168 (for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight title) – I have a great deal of respect for Rousey and her skills. She has already established herself as a dominant champion in this division. I just don’t see Tate being able to win this fight. Rousey made quick work of her the first time and I don’t think that will change the second time. Tate would have to overpower Rousey with striking, and that is not her game. I think a fight with Cat Zingano would have been much more entertaining and had a greater possibility for an upset.

5. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos at UFC 166 (for the UFC Heavyweight title) – This is the trilogy fight for these two, but both fights have been decisive loses for each man. I think the second fight told more about the matchup than the first. Velasquez was able to tire dos Santos in the first round with his aggressive pace. As long as Velasquez can avoid the big punch from the challenger, he should be able to dominate this fight again with his wrestling and ground control.

4. Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 (for the UFC Light Heavyweight title) – Jones has been absolutely dominant in this division, but Gustafsson appears to be a new challenge for Jones. Like the champion, Gustaffson has the ability to use his length to gain a striking advantage. The length edge that Jones always has on his opponents won’t quite be as much of an advantage in this bout. The question coming into this fight is can the challenger handle Jones’ wrestling, and can he go 25 minutes if need be?

3. Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 (for the UFC Welterweight title) – GSP has been the kingpin of this division for a long time, but Hendricks seems to have the right style to finally dethrone the champion. Hendricks has the wrestling background to contend with St. Pierre, but has the powerful hands to knock him out. The question will be if Hendricks can deal with St. Pierre’s jab and technical striking, and if he can go 25 minutes. If the fight ends quickly, Hendricks will be the champ. If the fight goes into the later rounds, you would have to think GSP will retain his title.

2. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 168 (for the UFC Middleweight title) – Was it a fluke when Weidman beat Silva? I think so, but the champion will have a chance to prove me wrong at UFC 168. I am looking forward to see how Silva approaches this fight. I truly believe if he is focused on winning and not putting on a show, he can’t be beat. I feel he could have beaten Weidman whenever he wanted to in the first fight, but was trying to embarrass the opponent instead, and got caught. This time around, will Silva take the fight seriously? Will he try to prove a point again? Weidman will probably have to have the fight of his life to win.

1. Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC 164 (for the UFC Lightweight title) – Of them all, this fight has me the most excited. The first fight between these two was tremendous and non-stop action. Now, both fighters are greatly improved. Henderson has evolved as a powerful striker with great wrestling and scrambling ability. Pettis is one of the most skilled and dynamic strikers in all of MMA and he is tremendous at fighting off his back. Both men can go 25 minutes and have plenty of motivation to win this fight. I expect this fight to live up to the hype.

  

Injuries becoming a real problem for UFC

We just can’t have nice things.

There is a serious issue going on with the UFC as of late – injuries.

This past week, the scheduled super-fight between Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis for later this summer was scrapped when it was discovered that Pettis injured his knee.

I can’t tell you how disappointing it was to hear this news. I was looking forward to this fight as much as I have any other fight, ever.

The styles of both men would have made for a tremendous chess match and exciting battle.

But, alas, it is not to be.

I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming. There has been a rash of injuries that have cancelled fights in recent years for the UFC.

Even yesterday’s UFC had to go with a replacement main event when interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao had to back out of his title fight with Eddie Wineland due to an injury.

Prior to that, UFC 160 had its co-main event change to Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunter after Alistair Overeem was injured.

It seems like every announced PPV card ultimately gets changed due to injuries.

The UFC implemented an insurance plan for its fighters that cover training injuries a few years back. The plan is a great idea and something the organization needed to do. But, since that plan came into place, more injuries seem to be taking place in training.

I am guessing the amount of injuries isn’t increasing in training, simply the fighters are more willing to pull out of a fight because their medical care will be covered. Prior to that, a fighter needed to compete in order to receive that medical coverage. So, if a fighter was hurt in training, he needed to grit it out and fight in order to get his injury repaired after his bout.

The coverage plan can’t change, but the intensity of training can. Fighters need to be smarter in how they prepare. Their grappling and wrestling practices are causing too many injuries. Fighters need to do what they can to be ready for a fight, but they can’t do it at a risk of injuring themselves and having a fight be cancelled.

There are plenty of exciting fights that could take place in the UFC, including a super-fight like Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones. But, what are the odds we will ever see it take place where both men will stay injury free in order to fight?