The number of major MMA events coming up in the next two months is absolutely mind-blowing. No fewer than 3 UFC PPVs, plus three UFC TV cards, Invicta’s PPV debut, a double championship card from Bellator plus great offerings from Cage Warriors, World Series of Fighting and Legacy FC. Don’t worry – here at PTBN we’ve got you covered, and here are the ten fights you can’t afford to miss in the next two months.
Mark Munoz vs. Tim Boetsch
UFC 162 (July 6th)
Mark Munoz was a man ascending the middleweight rankings, until UFC 162 main eventer Chris Weidman stopped him in the second round nearly one year ago. After that loss Munoz battled depression and weight issues, but has now recovered and is arguably in the best shape of his career. Many have been quick to mock Munoz’ weight in the past, however that is not something to laugh about anymore – these pictures show a 60 pound drop in five months Munoz looks more ripped than ever. Boetsch is similarly looking to get back on track after wins over Hector Lombard and Yushin Okami were overshadowed by a loss to Costas Philippou in December. This fight has now been bumped up to the main PPV card, and I for one am excited to see the new Mark Munoz in action against a very tough competitor in Tim Boetsch.
Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Claudia Gadelha
Invicta FC 6 (July 13th)
This fight was originally scheduled to be Ayaka Hamasaki challenging Carla Esparza for the strawweight championship, but injury to Esparza has handed a huge opportunity to Claudia Gadelha to leapfrog Hamasaki and become next in line at 115 pounds. While all the attention for this card is on Cyborg .vs. Coenen II, this fight has bubbled under the surface. Both bring perfect 9-0 records into this fight, adding yet another aspect to this fight. Hamasaki is a former Jewels champion while Gadelha has youth on her side, and between them they have eleven finishes in eighteen fights. This one could go either way, even though Hamasaki will be a favourite. On a loaded Invicta card, this one stands out as a potential FOTN.
Lukasz Chlewicki vs. Paul Daley
Cage Warriors 57 (July 20th)
Cage Warriors are arguably the biggest promotion in Europe these days, running events on something of a monthly basis. At CWFC57 in Liverpool, former UFC, Strikeforce and EliteXC fighter Paul Daley takes on promotional newcomer Lukasz Chlewicki. Daley fought for Cage Warriors way back at CWFC 8, and since then owns wins over Martin Kampmann, Duane Ludwig and Jorge Masvidal, as well as having fought Jake Shields, Nick Diaz and Josh Koscheck – the last of which was the scene for his infamous post-fight sucker punch. Chlewicki is riding a six fight undefeated streak and has looked very dangerous with a 10-2 record, one of those losses coming to Demian Maia. This is a big test for Daley to show that he is still the top fighter he has always threatened to have the potential to be, while for Chlewicki it’s a chance to prove himself against an elite welterweight. This card also streams live and for free on MMAJunkie.
Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Ellenberger
UFC on Fox 8 (July 27th)
Possibly the most obvious pick on this list, but the co-main event of the next Fox card has become more and more exciting over the past few weeks as the two have gone back and forth on Twitter. With these two both looking very impressive in recent fights, and sitting at 3 and 4 in the UFC rankings, this could well be the fight that decides the next challenger to the welterweight title. GSP and Johny Hendricks will fight in November, meaning that the winner could be ready to go in around April. Questions around whether GSP and MacDonald would be willing to fight still abound, but a win over Ellenberger would make him the next likely challenger. While MacDonald has stolen the plaudits and the attention of the pundits, Ellenberger has quietly worked his way up the ranks with a win over Jay Hieron and a very impressive knockout win over Nate Marquardt, while also being helped by others falling down the pecking order. A decisive victory for either could leave them in line for a big fight next year.
Ian Freeman vs. Ken Shamrock
UCFC 5: Legends of MMA (July 27th)
Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium will play host to a fight between two UFC pioneers – Ken Shamrock, one of the original UFC fighters, and Ian Freeman, the first British UFC fighter. Since the turn of the century Shamrock’s MMA record has been less than impressive, and Shamrock himself has acknowledged that he needs to redeem himself with this fight. Shamrock suggested the fight in an interview with GrappleTalk, but Freeman was less than impressed. Freeman claims that Shamrock has twice refused to fight him before, including citing injury to pull out of their fight at UFC 43 which Freeman claims was fake. The two traded angry interviews until UCFC finally booked the fight. With bad blood and two veterans out to prove they’ve still got it, this fight will be something of a spectacle. Neither has fought in the past three years, and Shamrock is nearly 50. This fight could well set the tone for ‘veterans’ fights going forward.
Ben Askren vs. Andrey Koreshkov
Bellator 97 (July 31st)
Bellator’s second and final 2013 Summer Series card is, arguably, one of the most stacked of the summer, featuring a lightweight title match, two tournament finals and a mouth watering clash for the welterweight title between champion Ben Askren and undefeated prospect Andrey Koerhkov. Askren is a world class wrestler, having wrestled at the 2008 Olympics and won a gold medal at the 2005 Pan American games. Askren is also undefeated in his eleven fights, and has been Bellator’s welterweight champion for two and a half years. However, Koreshkov has been on an unstoppable tear – at just 22, Koreshkov is undefeated in thirteen fights with eight knockouts and seven first round finishes. He tore through Bellator’s welterweight tournament to win this title shot, and is arguably the most dangerous challenger to Ben Askren’s title yet.
Ian McCall vs. Iliarde Santos
UFC 163 (August 3rd)
‘Uncle Creepy’ Ian McCall was part of the first ever UFC flyweight fight, but suffered defeat to inaugural champion Demetrious Johnson, followed by a loss to top ranked Joseph Benavidez. While McCall is still one of the top fighters in an albeit shallow division, he is surely very much in need of a win. Iliarde Santos made his debut for the UFC at UFC on FX 8 as a late replacement in a bantamweight fight, and after that loss he drops down to flyweight. Santos is an experienced fighter, with 27 wins and eighteen finishes in his career, so should prove a strong test for McCall. In such a small division, just a few wins can bring a fighter into title contention, so a win for Santos would see him in a strong position.
Tyrone Spong vs. Angel DeAnda
WSOF 4 (August 10th)
Kickboxer Tyrone Spong made his long awaited MMA debut at WSOF 1 with a first round knockout win, after winning over 70 fights in his kickboxing career including wins over Melvin Manhoef and WSOF founder Ray Sefo. In Angel DeAnda, he faces an opponent with ten knockout victories in thirteen fights, though he hasn’t fought in nine months. This is the main event of the fourth WSOF card, and the promotion will be looking to put on an entertaining card to continue to build their reputation. Spong is an exciting prospect, and the bigger organisations will certainly be looking at this fight, meaning that Angel DeAnda is also in the shop window.
Michael McDonald vs. Brad Pickett
UFC on Fox Sports 1:1 (August 17th)
It’s hard to choose a fight from the phenomenal inaugural UFC on Fox Sports 1 card, but whenever Brad Pickett is on a card you know he’s going to excite. Pickett has gone from being an entertaining finisher to a methodical and well-rounded fighter, though a loss to Eddie Wineland somewhat dented his title ambitions. Youngster Michael McDonald lost in a good showing to interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao last year, however with an impressive 15-2 record McDonald is a dangerous opponent who is arguably nowhere near his prime.
Robert Whittaker vs. Court McGhee
UFC on Fox Sports 1:2 (August 28th)
This fight, on the first midweek UFC Fox Sports 1 card, features two Ultimate Fighter winners – TUF 11’s Court McGhee, and The Smashes welterweight winner Robert Whittaker. After first round finishes in both of his preliminary fights, Whittaker defeated Brad Scott in the the final, before going on to knockout TUF 16’s Colton Smith in May at UFC 160. Whittaker is just 22 but has looked very impressive in all of his UFC fights so far, and is a top prospect in the welterweight division. McGhee got his UFC career back on track with a win over Josh Neer in February following two losses, and will be looking to continue a good run against the youngster Whittaker.