BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
The UFC Landscape for the 1st Quarter of 2012
By Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester
2012 looks like it will be a huge year for the UFC. This year has been deemed to be a year of more than 30 events and the UFC is hoping to excite their fans with more fights. Not only that, the UFC’s recent signing with FOX inspires to help the UFC become mainstream and that is definitely a possibility in the near future. With more availability and more events, UFC fans will get many options this year to see their favorite fighters and action-packed fights.
The FOX deal has changed the landscape of the UFC. What was once a one pay-per-view event a month now has become something much more. The seven-year FOX deal will open up a slew of different options as FOX, Fuel, and FX television channels will now play hosts to UFC programming. Prelims will now air live on television, and the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter will show live fights at the end of each week as its season run.
With so much going on in the UFC, how can one keep up? 2011 ended with a bang as Jon Jones ended a spectacular year beating a man whose style critics thought best matched Jones. Although Jones was supposed to be enjoying his vacation, he now wants to come back and fight in early 2012. Perhaps, a Dan Henderson match-up will likely be made early this year? Also, Alistair Overeem debuted into the UFC and sent Brock Lesnar into retirement. He now is set to face newly crowned UFC Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos in what should be one of the best heavyweight title fights in a long time. But both of these fights won’t likely happen until the second quarter of 2012.
2012 is already filled with talks of apocalypse and the end of the world, but matchmaker Joe Silva apparently wants to give UFC fans a great year before the world is supposed to end. And the UFC’s 2012 event schedule is already stacked with amazing cards. Here is an overview of what is coming up soon in the first quarter of 2012:
UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes – January 14, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The UFC gets their 2012 schedule started with a Featherweight title fight featuring champion Jose Aldo (20-1) versus Chad Mendes (11-0). The Nova Uniao and Team Alpha Male products will lock horns in the main event, as a couple of heavy-handed middleweight contenders highlight the co-main event. Recently moving up to middleweight, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson takes on Vitor Belfort in what should be a Fight of the Night contender. Other main card bouts include: Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio, Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater, and Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim. Also be on the lookout for the returns of Gabriel Gonzaga and Ricardo Funch in preliminary matchups.
UFC on FX 1: Guillard vs. Miller – January 20, Nashville, Tennessee
Technically the second event to be hosted under the new FOX deal, it will be the first event on FX. This event features two lightweight contenders who were likely both one fight away from being #1 contender in their last outing. Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller look to correct their previous mistakes by knocking off their opponent and leap frogging ahead of them in the populated Lightweight division. Each man wants to get back into title contention and this is where it begins. Elsewhere on the main card, Duane “Bang” Ludwig takes on Josh Neer, who impressed in his last fight since he returned to the UFC as a welterweight. And in the heavyweight division Pat Barry hopes to put an end to a two fight losing streak as he faces Christian Morecraft who also lost in his last fight. Keep in mind, the prelims will air on Fuel TV.
* Daniel Pineda vs. Pat Schilling added today!
UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs. Davis – January 28, Chicago, Illinois
If you watch the NFL on FOX Sundays, by now you have seen a promo for this card. While Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos was the first fight on FOX, it was not a part of the seven-year FOX deal. This event will mark the first official event on the FOX television channel. Only three bouts will air live on FOX and they act as the main card for this event. In the main event featuring Light-Heavyweight contenders, Rashad Evans takes on Phil Davis. Whoever wins this fight earns a future title shot against Light-Heavyweight champion Jon Jones. However, with recent reports of Jones saying he wants to fight again soon, Dan Henderson may get a title shot before these two contenders. In the co-main event, the wrestler and the UFC’s version of WWF’s “the Mouth of the South” Chael Sonnen faces the ground-and-pound powerhouse Mark Munoz in a title eliminator; the winner takes on Middleweight champion Anderson Silva at a later date. The first bout of the main card features Michael Bisping who fights submission artist Demian Maia. It has been reported that the winner of this bout will be the next contender after the winner of the Sonnen-Munoz match-up faces Anderson Silva.
UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit – February 4, Las Vegas, Nevada
With Georges St. Pierre tearing his ACL, he had to withdraw from putting his Welterweight gold on the line against tough challenger Nick Diaz. However, with the champion sidelined, the UFC will implement an Interim Welterweight belt in the champion’s absence. Top contender Nick Diaz will now face Carlos Condit in a bout between two of the best welterweights on the planet. The winner will become the UFC’s Interim Welterweight champion and will look to unify the belts with Georges St. Pierre when he gets back from his medical leave. In the co-main event, Roy Nelson will look to welcome back Fabricio Werdum from his stint in Strikeforce. Each man hopes to solidify their places in the Top 10 of the heavyweights. Also on the main card, after defeating the Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck is ready to continue his journey back to a championship fight. His original opponent, Carlos Condit, is now in the main event but tough welterweight Mike Pierce now stands in Koscheck’s way of title hopes. The event will also feature: Renan Barao vs. Scott Jorgensen and Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks on the main card.
UFC on Fuel TV 1: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger – February 15, Omaha, Nebraska
Jake Ellenberger is on a run unlike any other welterweight in the UFC. His recent quick stoppage over Jake Shields has painted him a bright future in the UFC’s welterweight division. However, hoping to dethrone that future is Diego Sanchez who is always up for a challenge and continues to put on an amazing fights. This event will be the first event on Fuel TV, and also features two heavyweight bouts on its main card: Stefan Struve vs. Dave Herman and Stipe Miocic vs. Phillip De Fries. In preliminary bouts, Aaron Simpson looks to take out Ronny Markes, and MMA veteran Ivan Menjivar will challenge TUF 14 alum John Albert. Confirmed but not yet official bouts feature: TUF 14 Bantamweight runner-up T.J. Dillashaw vs. Walel Watson, and TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins vs. Vagner Rocha.
* Buddy Roberts vs. Sean Loeffler added today!
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson – February 25, Saitama, Japan
In what is likely the biggest event for the UFC in the first quarter of 2012, Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar will put his title on the line against Benson Henderson. This will be the first event in Japan since UFC 29 and the card is filled with PRIDE veterans and hometown heroes. As previously mentioned, since rattling off three victories since the UFC’s merger with WEC, Benson Henderson will finally get a crack at the UFC’s Lightweight championship against the comeback kid Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, who in his last fight proved that will and determination is just as strong in the Octagon as skill and athleticism. Japan will welcome back Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the co-main event as he looks to knockout Ryan Bader, who hopes to continue to get back on his winning ways. Mark Hunt and Cheick Kongo are also featured on the main card. Yoshihiro Akiyama moves down to welterweight after suffering a three-fight losing streak at middleweight and he is set to face Jake Shields who is on a two-fight losing streak of his own; a first for his MMA career. And wily and unorthodox former WEC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis takes on Joe Lauzon, whose stunning power and quick submissions helps him always be one move away from pulling off a swift and relentless victory.
UFC on FX 2: Alves vs. Kampmann – March 3, Sydney, Australia
The second event on FX, the main event features two skilled welterweights in Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann. While it features two talented welterweights, the introduction of the UFC’s Flyweight division may overshadow them. In what is a tournament to crown the first UFC Flyweight champion, Joseph Benavidez will face Yasuhiro Urushitani, and Demetrious Johnson will challenge Ian McCall. The winners of these two bouts will fight at a later date for the UFC Flyweight Championship. Also on the card is Australia’s own James Te Huna as he challenges Aaron Rosa who since moving down to Light-Heavyweight appears to be in the right weight class. Cole Miller will look to knockout or submit TUF 14 contestant Steven Siler. Elsewhere, Oli Thompson debuts against Shawn Jordan in a heavyweight bout.
UFC 145 – March 24 – Montreal, Quebec
While this card is not officially finished yet, some of the confirmed bouts include:
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
Travis Browne vs. Chad Griggs
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
Brandan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
Mark Bocek vs. Matt Wiman
Mac Danzig vs. Efrain Escudero
John Makdessi vs. Anthony Njokuani
And that is a look at the first quarter fight-cards of 2012. Also on the horizon is UFC’s first trip to Sweden. As Stockholm, Sweden will play host to UFC on Fuel TV 2 on April 14. Second quarter 2012 should feature the return of Anderson Silva, as Dana White hinted that a proposed Silva bout will likely take place in Brazil (in a soccer stadium). Also, Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber will coach TUF 15 and will collide for the third sometime later this year. As the first quarter of 2012 begins, there is a lot to be excited for, and that is a good sign of things to come.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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