The UFC is closing out 2015 with their guns blazing as the largest MMA organization in the world produces 4 events highlighted by the stacked UFC 194 card on Saturday, December 12th. The 9-day period where the fight cards will take place has been branded as
“9 Days of Fury,” and will feature 3 world title bouts as well 2 number one contender fights. Here are the Top 10 UFC fights to catch during December’s “9 Days of Fury.”
(C) Jose Aldo vs. #1 Connor McGregor, UFC 194, December 12th: The Featherweight title will be unified when the champion Aldo (25-1) faces interim champion McGregor (18-2). The two bitter rivals were originally set to meet at UFC 189 on July 11th, but Aldo pulled out three weeks prior to the fight with a rib injury. McGregor went on to knockout Chad Mendes at UFC 189 to win the interim belt. During the press tours for UFC 189 and UFC 194, McGregor has been a constant thorn in Aldo’s side and has gotten deep under the champion’s skin. Both fighters are known for their dynamic striking and knockout power. While McGregor has solid ground skills, Aldo has world class black belt skills and owns a BJJ victory over Ruben ‘Cobrinha’ Charles. One of the key factors for the fight will be the fighters’ weight cuts, since both are very large featherweights. Aldo has previously relied on IV bags to help recover from the weight cut, but the use of IV bags are now banned.
(C) Chris Weidman vs. #1 Luke Rockhold, UFC 194, December 12th:
Rockhold (14-2), a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, will be Weidman’s (13-0) biggest test to date in the Octagon. Rockhold is coming off a dominating second round submission victory over former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who Weidman previously fought to a decision victory. Weidman is coming off an impressive first round TKO of former heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort who knocked Rockhold out in 2013 while Belfort was on TRT. Since the loss to Belfort, Rockhold has finished all 4 of his opponents enroute to earning his title shot. Both fighters are carbon copies of each other with strong striking, grappling, and a high level of physical and mental toughness.
(C) Rafael Dos Anjos vs. #2 Donald Cerrone, UFC on FOX, December 19th:
Dos Anjos (24-7) defeated Cerrone (28-6) by unanimous decision back in August 2013. Since their first fight, Dos Anjos has gone 4-1 en route to winning the UFC lightweight title while Cerrone has stayed busy with an 8-fight winning streak. Dos Anjos, who has been molded into a solid striker by Rafael Cordeiro, dominated Anthony Pettis to win the belt at UFC 185. The Budweiser drinking Cerrone has been one of the most active fighters in the Octagon while displaying a well rounded MMA game by displaying both strong striking and submissions skills during his winning streak that includes victories over Eddie Alavarez, Ben Henderson, and Jim Miller.
#2 Frankie Edgar vs. #3 Chad Mendes TUF Finale, December 11th:
The winner of this fight will get the winner of Aldo-McGregor, barring a disputed decision that warrants a rematch. Edgar (18-4-1), the former lightweight champion, is on a 4-fight win streak since losing by decision to Aldo. Mendes (17-3) lost by second round TKO to McGregor at UFC 189 after taking the fight on two week’s notice. Both Edgar and Mendes are former NCAA division one wrestlers with solid striking. Each man is capable of winning the fight on their feet or on the ground. Mendes has heavier hands with one-punch knockout power, while Edgar has excellent cardio and a great gas tank.
#2 Jacare Souza vs. #3 Yoel Romero, UFC 194, December 12th:
One of the greatest BJJ competitors of all-time battles one of the top wrestlers of the past 20 years with the victor getting a crack at the winner of the Weidman-Rockhold fight. This fight was likely added to the card as an insurance policy with two qualified injury replacements in case Weidman or Rockhold were forced to pull out of the event. Jacare (22-4), a former Strikeforce and ADCC champion, has 16 wins by submission and 2 by KO. He is on an 8-fight winning streak where he finished 7 of his opponents. Romero (10-1), who owns a wrestling victory over the legendary Cael Sanderson, won the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics. While his base is wrestling, he has proven he has knockout power with 9 of his 10 victories coming by knockout. He is on a 6-fight winning streak and has knocked out Tim Kennedy and former UFC champion Lyoto Machida in his last two outings.
#2 Junior Dos Santos vs. #9 Alistair Overeem, UFC on FOX, December 19th:
The two heavyweights finally get to settle their rivalry in Orlando at UFC on FOX. They were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 146 in May 2012 for the heavyweight title, but Overeem was yanked after he failed an NSAC pre-fight drug test. The two were then supposed to square off at UFC 160 in May 2013, but Overeem pulled out after injuring his leg. When they were scheduled to fight at UFC 146, the two fighters were viewed as unstoppable knockout artists. Since 2012, both men have lost a step with Dos Santos going 2-2 with 2 loses to Cain Velasquez that likely took years off his life and Overeem going 3-3 with 3 KO loses. Both are still very dangerous and capable of a one-punch knockouts. The winner of this fight will definitely be in the mix with Andrei Arvloski to meet the winner of the upcoming Heavyweight title rematch between champion Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez.
#3 Rose Namajunas vs. #7 Paige VanZant, UFC Fight Night, December 10th:
Thug Rose, who is replacing an injured Joanne Calderwood, is the #3 contender in the flyweight division despite only having a 3-2 professional MMA record. Namajunas who fell short in her bid to be crowned the first UFC Flyweight champion, when she lost to Carla Esparza, rebounded with a submission win over Angela Hill at UFC 192. VanZant (6-1) is riding a 4-fight winning streak and is is facing her biggest challenge in the Octagon. Namajunas has the slight edge on the ground with all 3 of her victories coming by way of submission. VanZant has gone the distance in 6 of her 7 fights, while Namajunas is 1-2 in fights that have made it to the third round. There is a good chance the longer the fight goes, the more it will favor VanZant.
#6 Edson Barboza vs. #8 Tony Ferguson, TUF Finale, December 11th:
This fight should be a fun one. Barboza (16-3), a training partner of Frankie Edgar and has strong striking with 9 of his 16 wins coming by knockout. Ferguson (19-3),who is riding a 6-fight winning streak, is 9-1 in the UFC with 9 career wins by KO and 6 wins by submission. With both men known for their aggressive, pressing striking styles, this fight has the potential to steal the show at the TUF Finale.
#6 Damian Maia vs. #12 Gunnar Nelson, UFC 194, December 12th:
Two highly-decorated grapplers will meet in a welterweight showdown on the UFC 194 main card. Maia (21-6) is coming off an impressive submission victory over Neil Magny at UFC 190. The 2-time ADCC champion is one of the best grapplers in the UFC and can potentially crack the Top 5 with a win over Nelson (14-1-1). Nelson, who is a black belt under Renzo Gracie, rebounded from a split-decision loss to Rick Story with an impressive submission victory over Brandon Thatch at UFC 190. Nelson has the edge on his feet with a strong karate background, while Maia is the more decorated grappler. Both Nelson and Maia have 10 wins by submission, despite Maia competing in 11 more pro fights than Nelson
#5 Michael Johnson vs. #14 Nate Diaz, UFC on Fox, December 19th:
Johnson (16-9),wasn’t penalized in the rankings by his controversial split-decision loss to Beneil Dariush this past August. Prior to the loss, Johnson was on a 4-fight winning streak which included decision victories over Edson Barboza and Joe Lauzon. Diaz (17-10) has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, but two of the losses were to current UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos and former champion Ben Henderson. Diaz, a big fan favorite, is know for his entertaining style and gamesmanship in the Octagon. If Diaz is motivated for the fight and able to get past the tough and durable Johnson, then he could be propelled back into the Top 10 and the lightweight title mix.