Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum will finally get their rematch, at UFC 207 in Las Vegas on December 30th. This rematch is coming about 10 months too late, as Cain & Fabricio were set to square off at UFC 196 on February 6th, until Cain pulled out with a back injury, and Fabricio then backed out when Stipe Miocic said he would take the fight on two weeks notice. As we know, Stipe and Fabricio eventually did face off, in Brazil, where Stipe knocked out Werdum in the first round and has since defended his belt against Alistair this past weekend.
Cain and Fabricio will fight in what has to be the #1 contender fight, as they both deserve, and want a title shot. Stipe said that he wants to take a few months off, and this is the perfect opportunity for that, as these two will square off in late December, which means Stipe won't have to make a defense until early 2017. The next issue in the Heavyweight division is Junior Dos Santos, who looks to be at the top of his game once again, and has been resting from his shoulder surgery, but is likely to return in 2016. So who should JDS fight next, and what should the fight represent? Well there are a few options - first, he and Alistair could run it back from their fight last December, where Junior was defeated by second round TKO; next he could fight Mark Hunt or Josh Barnett, in a tune up fight for what he would hope to be the next title shot after Stipe vs. Cain/Fabricio; orrrrrrrrrr he can just sit out until the title shot comes around, but that could be upwards of 6 months, and while he is still resting and healing, another 6 months off, after 6 months already, could either be exactly what he needs or a recipe for disaster.
The Heavyweight division is finally getting itself back on track, with a strong champion and three strong contenders right now with several other fighters like Ben Rothwell and Mark Hunt still looking to make a run at the title, its time to buckle up and enjoy these next 6 months plus of heavyweight's throwing bombs and taking heads clean off with one hit.
While Cowboy, the UFC matchmakers, and fans around the world were heartbroken this weekend when Robbie Lawler pulled out of his highly anticipated fight with Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, Cowboy has been able to find himself a new opponent, welterweight Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum is coming off of a strong victory at UFC 200 against Johnny Hendricks, and is sitting at (12-2) and is the number 6 contender in the 170 pound division. Gastelum looked very sharp at UFC 200 following his split decision loss to Neil Magny in November of 2015, and he looks to make a huge statement in this fight as he takes on fan favorite Donald Cerrone. I expect Kelvin to look to take Cowboy down and out wrestle him, and Kelvin is a big, strong, welterweight, so this could prove troublesome for Cowboy, but we all know just how good Cowboy's submission game is, so Gastelum shouldn't get too comfortable on the ground.
Every UFC fan should still be upset over the loss of Robbie vs. Cowboy, just because of how incredibly entertaining it would have been, as both men know how to do nothing but brawl, but this fight will still be a fun one and 205 is starting to get itself together, just missing a big main/co-main event.
This weekend was filled with several big rumors, fights being made, and fights falling through. With UFC 205, the UFC's debut card in New York, rapidly approaching big time fights are being added to the card with each day, but the card took a big hit this weekend as a fan favorite fight between Cowboy Cerrone and Robbie Lawler being scrapped from the card as Lawler is apparently battling an injury, possibly still stemming from his huge KO-loss to Tyron Woodley. Cowboy has however, expressed his interest to stay on the card, asking for Lightweight Champ Eddie Alvarez, but in the least shocking news ever, says he will fight anyone. Along with Cowboy still looking to stay on the card, the former 185 pound champion Chris Weidman looks to take on Yoel Romero in his home state of New York. This fight will likely produce the next challenger for Michael Bisping's belt, assuming Bisping defeats challenger Dan Henderson at UFC 204. We will also see Rashad Evans making his Middleweight debut, dropping from 205 to 185 pounds to take on all-around badass Tim Kennedy. This could be Suga Rashad's last hurrah, following a huge knockout loss to Glover Texieria just a few months ago. Now on top of these three big name fights, there have been several superstars been rumored to be looking into a 205 appearance. First, we know Conor McGregor has expressed interest all year about fighting in New York, and he would clearly create enough hype to most likely single handedly make the card the biggest ever. Who would Conor fight? Well now that is the tricky part, along with the possibility of Conor being injured still from his fight with Nate Diaz. But, if he were to fight on the card, I think it would simply make the most sense for it to be against Jose Aldo, unless he is truly comfortable with releasing his 145 pound belt in pursuit of the 155 pound belt, in which him and Eddie Alvarez would be an exciting stand-up fight. Next we have the Light Heavyweight belt, that should either be on the line at UFC 205, or a #1 Contender match, between Jon Jones and Rumble Johnson. I think we see Rumble at 205 regardless, whether it be against champion Daniel Cormier or against former champ Jon Jones.
Big news for the middleweight division, on top of Weidman vs Romero, is Rockhold vs Souza, at UFC Fight Night in Melbourne. This fight will be the week after UFC 205, and just a few weeks after UFC 204, so the MiddleWeight division will be looking for its next title challenger, and it will have it's pick, between the winner of Weidman & Romero, and Rockhold & Souza, against Michael Bisping if he defends his belt. However, if by chance Bisping is defeated by 45 year old Hendo, who has said he will retire win or lose at UFC 204, we might get the pleasure of seeing the two contender fight winners fighting for a vacated belt.
The UFC's first New York card is beginning to shape up nicely, but as of now the rumors are more exciting than the actual announced fights, but I expect that to all change in the upcoming weeks.
Saturday nights UFC 203 main card in Cleveland was a fun one, and for basically only two fights.
First, we saw Mickey Gall embarrass CM Punk, taking him down within the first 5 seconds and promptly forcing him to tap-out via rear naked choke in under 3 minutes. Gall landed a few big shots during the ground and pound before taking Punk's back and working for, and securing the choke. Listen, is this exactly what I expected? Yes. CM Punk has absolutely no business being inside the Octagon for a UFC promoted fight, but he did show courage and can now look back in 30 years and say he was happy to try it, but MMA is not for everyone. You can't walk in off the street and expect to be ready for the UFC in only 2 short years, it is just not possible. Another thing this fight proved, is Mickey Gall is the real deal, and he is going to be a superstar. He made a name for himself by calling out Punk, then dominated. Then immediately asked for Sage Northcutt in his post fight interview, and Dana White made it known that Northcutt''s camp is interested, and the fight will likely happen sooner than later.
In the co-main event, we had a very bizarre fight between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne. The bad blood was evident between the two in their rematch, and Werdum dominated for the most part, but that was largely in part to Browne breaking, or dislocating, his finger on his right hand within the first opening minutes. We saw Werdum attempt a variety of strange strikes, throwing high kick after high kick, and looking for leg-lock takedowns, failing consistently. Then, in the most ridiculous part of it all, Fabricio and Browne's coach almost threw punches in the octagon post fight, as a very confused crowd looked on.
In our main event, Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem squared off in front of a sold out, Cleveland crowd for the heavyweight title. This fight lasted only one round, but man was it a good round. The two strikers traded shots early, until Overeem caught the champ with a clean shot to the jaw, knocking him on his ass, and The Reem pounced on him and locked in a guillotine, but Stipe managed to work his way free from the choke, and stood it right back up. Stipe then went into attack mode and began landing shot after shot, backing Overeem against the cage and teeing off, and as Alistair managed to escape, Stipe took his legs out from under him and got on top of Overeem, where he was able to land a few huge shots, and bounce Alistair's head off the canvas and knock him out to retain the title of the baddest man on the planet, and in doing so, set the crowd on fire as Cleveland erupted in cheers for their hometown hero.
What's next for our 203 fighters? Well first, Mickey and Sage looks like its a done deal for sometime this year, and CM Punk vowed to fight again, whether it be with the UFC or not is still unclear. Browne is struggling as of late, and will be out indefinitely with a finger injury. I know Werdum is fully expecting a title shot, but I don't see that to be fitting, following Cain's impressive UFC 200 performance, so maybe Cain vs. Fabricio 2? Winner gets Stipe? That would be my fight to make if I am the UFC matchmakers, and work Junior Dos Santos into the mx as soon as he is fully healthy. No one has ever made more than 2 successful defenses of the UFC's Heavyweight title, but Stipe is looking to make his case as the man to do it first.
Robbie Lawler looks to rebound from his title loss to Tyron Woodley in July by taking on one of the fastest rising Welterweight Challengers, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. Cowboy has been one of the UFC's best lightweights over the past half decade, and after losing early in his title fight against Rafael Dos Anjos in December, he made a change from 155 to 170 pounds, and has found immediate success. Cowboy has won three straight at 170 pounds since his February debut at the weight, most recently dismantling Rick "Horror" Story at UFC 202. Robbie has been itching for a big fight in his return after being knocked out by Woodley, something we have not seen in quite some time, and he has received his wish. Cowboy has always been known as one of the baddest dudes in all of MMA, taking any fight at any point, no matter who the opponent. In Cowboy's mind, you don't ever need to get ready for a fight, if you stay ready year round. And Robbie Lawler is absolutely no stranger to being a savage, winning two straight fight of the year awards, and competing with Rory MacDonald in what has to be the greatest fight I have ever personally seen. This is a fight that fight-fans everywhere should be PUMPED about, this is going to be a stand-up, throw and pray you don't get knocked out kind of fight, because these two guys know how to bring it. I think Cowboy will set himself up for a title shot if he can put Robbie away, but I think this fight is everything for both fighters, because Robbie needs this win to get his name right back in the title picture, in a division that to me is the best in the entire UFC Organization, with more noteable contenders than every other division combined. This is gonna be an incredible first card for the UFC in New York, and I suggest you all get the family, make some popcorn, and order this card because it will be nothing short of incredible.