UFC's blockbuster summer
Preview by Brady Crytzer
While fans line up to witness the annual flood of Hollywood summer blockbusters at their local movie theaters, the Ultimate Fighting Championship gears up for its most action packed summer in the young organizations sixteen year history. Starting with UFC 98 on May 24th, the UFC offers four supercards featuring a Who’s Who of pound for pound greats and some of the most exciting young talent in the sport. As if there weren’t enough reasons to watch the UFC already, there are now three more…and they are June, July, and August.
May 24th: UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida: Las Vegas, NV (PPV)
For the first time in UFC history, two unbeaten fighters square off for a world title. Better yet, there is no doubt that light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and challenger Lyoto Machida are #1 and #2 respectively on the planet. While there is no clear favorite in the main event, expect a pick ‘em fight with serious pound for pound implications. Also on the card, the much ballyhooed and long awaited showdown between former welterweight champions and longtime UFC regulars is set to go down when Matt Hughes meets Matt Serra in a 170 lb. showdown. Win or lose, this could be the last time that either man is seen inside the Octagon.
June 13th: UFC 99: Redemption: Cologne, Germany (PPV)
The UFC has developed a staunch reputation for overseas travel and, for the first time, it ventures into Continental Europe. Like many of its Euro predecessors, UFC 99 does not have a title fight on the card, but it does pack a serious punch in the form of an outstanding main event and an absolutely dynamite undercard. The feature bout of the evening pits two modern day legends together as Rich Franklin meets Wanderlai Silva at 205 lbs in a sure fire shootout. The undercard however is worth its weight in gold as heavyweight phenom Cain Velasquez faces the toughest test of his career in perennial gatekeeper Heath Herring. Throw in Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy and Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders? Achtung, baby!
July 11th: UFC 100: Las Vegas, NV (PPV)
As good as this summer will be, there is no card bigger than the Goliath that is UFC 100. In an extremely top heavy PPV extravaganza, Brock Lesnar will defend his UFC title against former conqueror Frank Mir in a heavyweight rematch for the ages. But that’s not all folks. In what could be the best co-main event in the sport’s history, welterweight champion and emerging pound for pound king Georges “Rush” St. Pierre faces the toughest physical test of his career when he meets the hard charging KO artist Thiago “Pitbull” Alves. Still not enough? Let’s throw in the meeting of opposing coaches from The Ultimate Fighter 9 in Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping and you are left with an outstanding card to celebrate a remarkable milestone.
August 8th: UFC 101: Declaration: Philadelphia, PA (PPV)
One of the most intriguing cards of the summer season comes in the form of the UFC’s inaugural appearance in the Keystone State as Pound for Pound king Anderson Silva moves up to the 205 lb. limit to face former champion Forrest Griffin. As a proposed co-feature, lightweight champion BJ Penn will return to the 155 lb. weight class to meet challenger Kenny Florian for his 2nd title defense. Though Silva retains his status at the top of the heap, poor showings against Patrick Cote in October and Thales Leites in April have made the Griffin bout a must win for the middleweight champion if he wants to assert himself again as the most dangerous fighter on the planet.