What a weekend! While the rest of us were grilling hot dogs or hanging out at the beach, the UFC was busy putting pen to paper as in signatures on contracts for three great fights. After a spring in which every main event seemed to be cancelled by injury, the UFC is looking to end 2011 with some of the biggest fights in company history.
The weekend got off to a huge start on Friday when UFC President Dana White announced Cain Velasquez would defend his UFC heavyweight championship against Junior Dos Santos November 12th on FOX.
This was a major story on a couple of different levels; the first being a sure fire pay-per-view money maker was instead being given away for free as the first fight on FOX.
The fight itself should live up to the hype as the 29 year old champion will enter the octagon with a perfect record of 9-0 with 8 of those wins coming by knockout. Velasquez has not fought since October of last year when he steamrolled former champ Brock Lesnar. Shortly afterwards, Velasquez had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
13 months is a long layoff, and Velasquez cannot afford to be rusty against his 26 year old opponent.
Dos Santos is a wrecking machine with a record of 13-1. He also has 8 knockouts, and has defeated such name fighters as Mirko Cro Cop, Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin.
There is no doubt this should be an excellent fight. FOX is going all out with a red carpet pre-fight show to go along with plenty of hype over the next couple of weeks during their MLB and NFL broadcasts.
It will be a huge night for the UFC and they are treating it as such by putting the heavyweight championship up for grabs.They announced another strong fight for the card with Clay Guida fighting Ben Henderson. The winner of this fight has to be considered the #1 contender for the lightweight title. While White stated that only the heavyweight championship fight would be shown on FOX, it doesn’t make sense not to show a fight between two guys as exciting as Guida and Henderson. If the title fight ends early (and it should) I hope this is the fight that is shown to fill the time.
Tuesday also brought big news in the heavyweight division as it was announced former Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem will make his UFC debut on December 30th against Lesnar.
This is another fight that fans are excited to see, and confirms the UFC as the clear cut leader in the fan friendly department.
It wasn’t that long ago this fight seemed nothing more than a pipe dream between champions in different promotions, but once Zuffa purchased Strikeforce the wheels for super fights were put in motion.
The first happens next month when UFC welterweight champ George St Pierre fights former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz. This fight works on so many levels as both guys had blown through the best competition in their division, plus it’s good vs. evil as nice guy GSP fights the bad boy Diaz.
If there is any negative that comes with these fights, it’s the nails being pounded into the coffin of Strikeforce. When two of your current champs are fighting for your rival and a third (Dan Henderson) is close to signing a deal to return to the UFC it kills your credibility.
You knew this day was coming when the sale was announced, even if Dana White swore that it would be “business as usual”. When the injury bug hit, White had to make a move and that move was the slow demise of Strikeforce. He owns it and should be able to run it as he likes. As sorry as I will be to see Strikeforce go away, I am more excited to see the fights that are coming. See ya later Strikeforce, you had a good run but now it’s time to let the UFC take over. Any scenario in which the fans win is always good and I am hard pressed to think of a better weekend then the one we just had.
It’s a little sad that this weekend will bring the semi-finals of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. An event when it was announced that was supposed to put the smaller promotion at the same level if not higher when it came to the heavyweight division.
Remember? You were looking ahead to a showdown between Overeem and Fedor and wondering if guys like Josh Barnett or “Big Foot” Silva could pull an upset along the way. Silva did defeat Fedor and while Barnett is still alive in the tournament, do you care? Me either. I will watch because I love the fights, but I would be shocked if we don’t see ads for the UFC on FOX debut.
It’s crazy how the landscape has changed in the past six months. I’m sorry for the people who will lose their jobs, but excited to see what super-fights will be announced next.