By Adam Martin
The UFC announced a ton of new matchups over the past seven days, but I’ve chosen what I believe are the four most significant of the bunch for the Weekly Fight Survey. Here are my thoughts on these four big fights:
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, UFC 160
The UFC heavyweight title will be up for grabs on May 25, when champion Cain Velasquez meets challenger Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the main event of UFC 160. It’s a rematch that seemed almost impossible to conceive after Velasquez viciously TKO’ed Silva back at UFC 146, but after “Bigfoot” knocked out Alistair Overeem at UFC 156, Dana White and Joe Silva had no choice but to book the fight.
I’m torn about this fight. On the one hand, I agree that “Bigfoot” earned the rematch with Velasquez since he beat Overeem so impressively — plus the heavyweight division is so thin at the moment — but on the other hand I don’t know if this rematch is going to go any different than their first fight, which was an absolute thrashing.
Sure, there have been rematches that have gone completely different than the first fight — Velasquez’ two fights with Junior dos Santos are great examples — but I think most people would be pretty surprised if Silva was able to stop Velasquez’ takedowns in their second meeting, especially after seeing how easily Overeem was able to take “Bigfoot” to the mat, and if this fight hits the floor Velasquez will have a major advantage.
Then again, maybe “Bigfoot” can keep the fight standing and test Velasquez’ chin. It’s hard to count him out anymore after seeing all the upsets he’s earned in his career — over guys like Overeem, Travis Browne, Fedor Emelianenko, Andrei Arlovski, etc. — but I think his luck is going to end here as Velasquez smashes him once again.
Thus far fan reaction has been somewhat negative to the bout as many see it as uncompetitive, but either way there’s no one else for Velasquez to fight right now. So if you’re one of those who don’t like the booking, I’d say try to make the most of it and just enjoy it for what it is.
What do you think of the Velasquez-Silva matchup at UFC 160?
Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem, UFC 160
The fight that everyone has been waiting for is finally official, as former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos takes on former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem in the co-main event of UFC 160, with the winner of the bout expected to earn a title shot.
Now this is a fight.
Unlike Velasquez vs. “Bigfoot,” fan reaction to this bout has been overwhelmingly positive. Sure, the heavyweight title won’t be on the line in this fight but that’s okay because either way two of the top heavyweight strikers in the world are going to step into the cage and that’s a win-win for everyone.
These two were set to face off at UFC 146 last year, but after Overeem failed a random drug test the fight never materialized. However, dos Santos hasn’t forgot the negative words Overeem had for him, and I fully expect “Cigano” to try and take out his frustrations out on “The Reem” in the Octagon this May.
Unlike Velasquez vs. “Bigfoot,” which seems like a squash match, dos Santos vs. Overeem should be a competitive battle and it’s likely that one of the two is going to get knocked out in this fight. This is an awesome matchup and I’m glad the UFC decided to book it.
What do you think of the Dos Santos-Overeem matchup at UFC 160?
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga, TUF 17 finale
The UFC also announced this past week that UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will back in the cage this spring when he takes on John Moraga in the main event of the TUF 17 Finale, which is set for April 13 in Las Vegas. Moraga earned the shot at the belt after dispatching of Ulysses Gomez and Chris Cariaso in his first two UFC bouts, while Johnson is coming off a dominant performance over John Dodson in the main event of UFC on FOX 6, which was his first title defence.
This should be an awesome fight and I’m glad that the UFC elected to give Moraga the title shot instead of Joseph Benavidez, who said he wanted to take another fight and get more ring time in before fighting for the belt again. Moraga is an amazing fighter who has been overlooked up until now, so do not be surprised if he ends up pulling off the upset in this bout because he has a skillset that matches up well against Johnson, who has looked absolutely outstanding since dropping down to 125 pounds.
The most interesting thing about this fight for me, though, is the fact that the UFC is again putting a flyweight title fight on free TV. Obviously the 125 pounders haven’t drawn well, but there’s no question in my mind that Johnson vs. Moraga is going to be an action-packed fight and anyone who says they won’t tune in because they don’t like watching the little guys fight is going to miss out. This could be the fight that finally puts the division on the map, and to let all the fans watch it for free on FX/Sportsnet was a great move by the UFC. Let’s hope we keep getting more free title fights in 2013, because so far this is a trend that I really like.
What do you think of the Johnson-Moraga matchup at the TUF 17 finale?
Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano, TUF 17 finale
It took long enough, but the UFC has now announced the second women’s bout in the promotion’s history and it’s a good one as former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate meets undefeated Cat Zingano in a main card matchup at the TUF 17 Finale.
One word sums this up: Finally.
No one knew if the UFC was going to wait to see how good the pay-per-view numbers for this weekend’s UFC 157 event — which is headlined by UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche, the first women’s fight in UFC history — were before deciding to continue to book more women’s fights, but the announcement of this bout between Tate and Zingano proves the UFC has made a commitment to the women regardless of how well UFC 157 does at the box office.
And not only was the Tate vs. Zingano fight booked, but the promotion also announced that Alexis Davis and Sara McMann have been signed, too, so now the UFC has six top-notch women fighters on its roster and thus lots of new potential challengers for Rousey’s title.
Tate vs. Zingano should be a terrific matchup and could easily win “Fight of the Night” at the TUF 17 finale. It was interesting that Dana White said the UFC was planning on having the bout as the co-main event of UFC Sweden 2, but decided to yank it saying Sweden “wasn’t ready” for the fight. In my opinion, though, Sweden’s loss is Las Vegas’s gain because this should be a ferocious scrap between two tough chicks and I can’t wait for it.
What do you think of the Tate-Zingano matchup at the TUF 17 finale?
Adam Martin has blogged for theScore.com and is a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.