In my weekly look at newly-announced UFC matchups, here’s my take on four in particular, including three arising out of injuries, and one that has me scratching my head…
Urijah Faber vs. Vaughan Lee, UFC 156
Although yet to be officially announced by the UFC, Brazilian media outlet TATAME reported last week that former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber will make his return to the Octagon when he takes on British submission fighter Vaughan Lee at UFC 156 in what should prove to be a ridiculous mismatch.
This fight makes absolutely no sense to me as despite his losses in title fights, Faber remains one of the top-five 135-pounders in the world. Lee, his reported opponent, is nowhere near Faber’s talent, skill, or even star level, and, despite his recent victory over Kid Yamamoto, it makes no sense for him to fight Faber when his last fight was a one-sided loss by rear naked submission to Faber’s teammate T.J. Dillashaw.
I don’t know what the UFC is trying to accomplish by booking this fight, but perhaps they want to get Faber on another win streak against lesser competition in order to start paving the way to re-book the trilogy fight between he and UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz that was scratched due to Cruz’ knee injury this past summer. But either way, Faber vs. Lee is just plain silly any way you look at it.
What do you think of the Faber-Lee matchup?
Costa Philippou vs. Tim Boetsch, UFC 155
Due to Chris Weidman pulling out of his UFC 155 bout against Tim Boetsch with an injury, his teammate Costa Philippou has stepped in on short notice to fight Boetsch in what is the biggest fight of his career. Philippou was supposed to fight Canadian Nick Ring at UFC 154, but illness to Ring on the day of the fight scratched the bout. That means Philippou is already in great shape, and it means he’s going to give Boetsch a hell of a fight.
Both Philippou and Boetsch are tough, heavy-handed fighters who have flawless 4-0 records fighting in the UFC middleweight division. Both men have a major opportunity here to state their cases as legitimate UFC middleweight title contenders, so expect both men to give their all when they go toe-to-toe on the main card of the UFC’s big year-end show.
What do you think of the Philippou-Boetsch matchup?
Todd Duffee vs. Phil De Fries, UFC 155
After Matt Mitrione was pulled from his UFC 155 bout against Phil De Fries to fight Roy Nelson at the TUF 16 finale, former heavyweight prospect Todd Duffee has been called back to the big show to fight the Englishman de Fries in a fight that should end inside the distance.
Duffee burst onto the scene at UFC 102 back in August 2009 when he knocked out Canadian Tim Hague in a record seven seconds. However, after a surprise knockout loss to Mike Russow at UFC 114, Duffee was cut by the UFC and since then has only gone 1-1, with the loss to Alistair Overeem and the win over Neil Grove.
It’s surprising the UFC brought Duffee back considering Dana White’s comments about him back when he was released, but he’s only 26-years old and has a ton of potential still, so bringing him back isn’t a terrible move, especially since the UFC is in need of heavyweight depth. However, he might only get this one fight with De Fries to prove himself worthy of a roster spot, so he needs to make the most of it.
What do you think of the Duffee-De Fries matchup?
Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens, UFC on FOX 5
After an injury to John Cholish, the UFC decided to rebook Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens, a fight that was supposed to happen at UFC on FX 5 before Stephens was arrested on an outstanding warrant the day of the bout and the fight was scratched last minute despite the UFC’s best efforts to save it. The reason the UFC wants this fight to happen so bad is because it’s plain and simply a great fight.
Both Edwards and Stephens are veterans of the sport and love to stand and bang, making them fan favourites for a reason. Both fighters are consistently in exciting bouts and paired with one another, this fight has the potential to be a barnburner. Hopefully there is no funny business this time around and the fight goes ahead as planned, but honestly, would it surprise anyone if that was the case? Hopefully we get to see it though, because it’s an awesome fight.
What do you think of the Edwards-Stephens matchup?
Adam Martin has blogged for theScore.com and is a regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s MMA section. Follow him on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.