September marks the beginning of the regular season for both College and Pro Football, but in Mixed Martial Arts there is no off-season. Another month jammed packed full of fights is already in full swing (OneFC Kicked things off with a vengeance earlier today) and with that said, here goes an attempt at picking just five fights that you should keep you’re eye on. Please believe there are plenty more where this came from which makes these five fights all the more important as we prepare for another fall full of fight!
5. Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger (UFC Fight Night 25: 9/17/11)
If you looked up “fights that could either rule or suck” in the dictionary you’d see a picture of the headliner for UFC Fight Night 25. Jake Ellenberger has the opportunity to make a major jump in the UFC Welterweight division against one of the Pound for Pound best fighters in the world today. Can Shields blanket Ellenberger for three Rounds and add another victim to an already impressive list or will he dare to stand and bang with The Juggernaut? Shields’ fight against Dan Henderson showed us that his heart and his chin will never be in question. Just three weeks before his fight, Shields just hit with tough news as his mentor and a father passed away.
4. Joe Warren vs. Alexis Vila (Bellator 51: 9/24/11)
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Anytime Joe Warren hooks em up you can count on something ridiculous to happen. Pit him up against an undefeated freestyle Cuban wrestler who has finished 8 of his 9 professional fights and you can expect fireworks. This fight is the perfect candidate to headline the opening round of Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament madness. Why risk this match up not happening by putting these fighters on the opposite end of the bracket. Set your dvr for this one MMA fans.
3. Nate Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi (UFC 135: 9/24/11)
Neither of these guys have had a whole lot of success in the UFC as of late. If that’s what it takes for us to be blessed with a match up like this then so be it. Diaz returns to Lightweight (where he belongs) and he will be welcomed by one of the best who ever did it, The Fireball Kid. It’s clear that the Diaz Brothers can’t be knocked out. If Gomi doesn’t collect KO of the Night with this one I fully expect a Diaz sub of the night or even better yet both fighters collecting Fight of the Night bonuses. This is one of those fights for the fans that has potential to steal the show.
2. Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov (Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix: 9/10/11)
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The Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix has become, well, that’s something for another article. When you focus on the match ups that it has created you really can’t hate on it. Bigfoot vs. Cormier and Barnett vs. Kharitonov are both intriguing Heavyweight tilts that are worthy of any Mixed Martial Arts fans Saturday Night. Barnett is quietly riding a seven fight win streak into this one. He hasn’t felt defeat since all the way back in 2006 at Pride: Shockwave where he was busted up by Minotauro Nogueira.
Every time Golden Glory’s Sergei Kharitonov seems to get near the top of the ladder he always stumbles. With victories over big name Heavyweights like Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum, advancing into the Finals of this Tournament would cement Kharitonov as a force to be reckoned with for any Zuffa Heavyweight.
1. Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson (UFC 135: 9/24/11)
It’s not just about Jones vs. Rampage. It’s about the state of the UFC Light Heavyweight Division as a whole. The hype is real. While all signs point to another Jon “Bones” Jones beat down there really is no sure thing in this sport. While Jones does have the skill set to rag doll anyone at 205 up to and including Jackson do not ever, ever sleep on Rampage . Has the young newly crowned champion ever been presented with a bigger challenge or even a bigger build up to a fight than this? The answer is simply, No. The mind games leading up to this one already make it must see TV.
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