By Adam Martin
It was a busy week with new fight announcements from all over the world of MMA, but the Weekly Fight Survey has you covered. Here are, in my opinion, the four most intriguing matchups announced over the past seven days.
Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis, UFC, Aug. 3
The fight between UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, which is scheduled for Aug. 3 at a location TBD, has left fans and media members divided.
On the one hand, there is the group that is extremely excited about the prospect of two of the best strikers in mixed martial arts going at each other for 25 minutes with the UFC featherweight strap on the line. This group sees Pettis as the one guy who can really give Aldo a run for his money, considering how successful he’s been in the lightweight division, and they believe he has the style to dethrone Aldo.
On the other hand, there’s a group that thinks it’s unfair to award Pettis a title shot in a division in which he has no wins. This group believes that Ricardo Lamas, fresh off a bloody TKO win over Erik Koch at UFC on FOX 6, is the rightful No. 1 contender, and that “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is right behind him in the title line.
Personally, I’m in the group that absolutely loves this fight. Anthony Pettis vs. Jose Aldo; are you kidding me?! This fight is absolutely bananas and the best part about it was it happened totally out of the blue. No one knew Pettis was secretly wishing to go to 145 to fight Aldo, but after UFC president Dana White received a text from Pettis asking for Aldo after his win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156, the UFC couldn’t resist booking this fight, and I don’t blame them.
We can argue the legitimacy of awarding Pettis the title shot forever, but either way, the fight is going to happen so there’s no point in arguing about that when even less deserving fighters in other divisions are getting title shots. This is going to be a sick fight and if Aldo wins, there’s no doubt in my mind that he should move up to lightweight and try to become a dual-division champion. And if Pettis wins, well, let’s just say that would shake up the featherweight division in a big way. I can’t wait to see what happens.
What do you think of the Aldo-Pettis matchup?
Tim Means vs. Jorge Masvidal, UFC on FOX 7
I love the newly announced matchup between lightweights Tim Means and Jorge Masvidal, which takes place at UFC on FOX 7 this April in San Jose. Both fighters are elite strikers who are always involved in exciting bouts so I’m very happy the UFC decided to book this fight in Masvidal’s first bout in the UFC after he was acquired from Strikeforce.
I expect this fight to be nothing but non-stop action for 15 minutes straight. Both men love to engage, love to please the fans, and most importantly, love to win, so viewers can expect nothing but an all-out brawl when these two tango this spring.
Neither of these fighters is that well known yet but trust me, Means and Masvidal are both awesome fighters who just haven’t had the chance to prove themselves yet. The winner of this fight will no doubt get a significant step up in competition in his next bout, so expect to see the best out of both guys this April on FOX/Sportsnet.
What do you think of the Means-Masvidal matchup?
Conor McGregor vs. Marcus Brimage, UFC on FUEL TV 9
Europe’s MMA fanbase has been raving about Conor McGregor — the young Irishman who is a dual-division champ in Cage Warriors — for years. A 24-year-old striker from Dublin, McGregor was finally signed by the UFC after a recent KO win turned heads over in North America, and he’ll make his promotional debut against Marcus Brimage at UFC on FUEL TV 9 in Sweden this April.
On one hand, I love this fight. But on the other hand, I hate it.
First off, why I love it: Both McGregor and Brimage are blue-chip prospects, two high-level fighters who have been flying under the radar but who are ready to explode to the next level. McGregor, 12-2, is currently riding an eight-fight win streak and all of his victories have come via knockout or decision. Brimage, 6-1, is 3-0 in the UFC including notable upset victories over Maximo Blanco and Jimy Hettes. These guys are both studs, so fans can expect a great fight when they step into the cage against each other this spring.
But the same reason I love this fight is why I hate it. As much as it will be an exciting fight, I don’t like how the UFC is matching up two prospects with top-10 potential against each other so soon in their careers, because only one man can win this fight. So while one fighter is going to shoot up the ranks, the other one is going to fall down and get lost in the shuffle in the UFC’s crowded featherweight division.
To me, I sense a lack of respect to Brimage from everyone — the fans, the oddsmakers, and from the UFC matchmaking team. If you look at the fights with Blanco and Hettes, Brimage entered as a huge underdog and wasn’t supposed to win either. But in both cases he came through with flying colours. However, instead of getting a step up in competition and fighting a veteran — say, a guy like former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown — in a fight that could put him into the top 10 right now, the UFC is asking him to welcome one of the highest-regarded prospects in the world into the Octagon.
Brimage isn’t supposed to win this fight and will likely be an underdog yet again. But this time, don’t be surprised if he pulls off the upset. As for McGregor, he has to win this fight or else he’ll be labeled “overrated.” It’s not a great spot for McGregor to be in, but if he gets by Brimage when others couldn’t, there’s no doubt the UFC is going to put him on the fast track to a title shot. I would have rather they matched him up with someone lower on the ladder, though, but I am looking forward to seeing this guy fight in the UFC. Overall, I’m on torn on this one.
What do you think of the McGregor-Brimage matchup?
Andrei Arlovski vs. Anthony Johnson, WSOF 2
It’s been announced by the upstart promotion World Series of Fighting that their second event, which will take place in New Jersey on March 23, will feature a headliner of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski vs. former UFC welterweight Anthony (Rumble) Johnson, who is moving up to heavyweight for this contest.
This is an unbelievable fight and it’s impressive that WSOF was able to put it together, considering Johnson has to move up from the light-heavyweight division to fight a much bigger fighter in Arlovski. Both men are extremely talented mixed martial artists, and for their second-ever event, WSOF really couldn’t have put together a better main event.
Don’t be surprised if the winner of this fight, especially if it’s Johnson, is invited back to the UFC for another go-around. In Johnson’s case, missing weight at UFC 142 led to his release by Zuffa, but now that he fights at light-heavyweight and heavyweight there is most definitely room on the roster for him, especially if he can take out Arlovski with a highlight-reel knockout.
As for Arlovski, a win over Johnson would prove that he still has something left in the tank, and if he can become the first man to take out Johnson with strikes (Kevin Burns’ eyepoke notwithstanding) it would definitely put his name back on the map.
What do you think of the Arlovski-Johnson matchup?
Adam Martin has blogged for theScore.com and is a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.