Here's a preview of fights coming up this weekend in the world of MMA:
Storylines rarely change in sports and certainly not in MMA. The guy on the comeback, the guy on the rise, the guy fighting for one last shot at the big time. In MMA the stories may be on repeat, but it does not make them any less exciting.
This Saturday on UFC on FX 5 sees the return of heavyweight Antonio Silva looking for his first win in the UFC after a series of crushing defeats. For those who need some reminding, Silva [16-4 with 11 KO] has a stellar victory on his resume over Fedor Emelianenko, widely considered to be the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time (even if he was past his prime when he came across Silva).
But how the mighty 265 pound man has fallen. After that marquee win, Silva took an almighty tumble with a first round defeat at the hands of Daniel Cormier. Things should have improved for Silva when he signed with the UFC. They didn’t. This time it was Cain Velasquez who took his turn in dispatching Silva in the first round.
So now Silva finds himself in the unenviable position of still searching for a victory in the UFC against a Travis Browne, a 6’7” Hawaiian who the form book says he should really beat. If he does, he’ll be in the mix again for a huge championship fight. Silva offers tremendous power, and a decent ground game. But Browne is an unknown quantity. His 4-0-1 record in the UFC suggests a fighter of real potential, but some argue he could yet be destined for the lower division.
With the halcyon days of Emelianenko long behind him, Silva needs a win to recover his career. A loss would mean he becomes a gatekeeper to heavyweight guys who might take their chances much more than Silva ever could, guys like Browne, who if victorious would be elevated to the upper echelons of the sport. The rising rookie, the faded veteran, the guy with one last shot.
Heard this one before? Of course you have.
While the heavyweights may reign supreme in the main event, another rather enticing reason to tune in on Saturday is that the flyweights are fighting. Why is this so appealing? Well seasoned fans will know that the UFC’s newest division is also the fastest and arguably most fan-friendly weight class to watch. Who could not enjoy two zipping dervishes battle it out in a mesmeric flurry of punches and kicks?
Facing off on this card are card are John Dodson and Jussier da Silva. This is Silva’s debut for the UFC, while Dodson is a former bantamweight champion of UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” reality show. To add spice into the mix, rumors are flying that the winner will be in contention to face newly crowned champion Demetrius Johnson.
If you can’t wait for Saturday night than your appetites could certainly be whetted on Friday courtesy of Bellator 75 from Hammond, Indiana. Bellator loves tournaments, and this Friday marks the quarterfinal stage of their heavyweight competition. But on Friday there is a little more significance than the others. Cole Konrad, Bellator’s champion and former NCAA Division I wrestling champion, decided to retire unexpectedly last month meaning that the heavyweight belt is up for grabs and there are a lot of guys ready to stake their claim.
Aside from that, Brett Rogers a former Strikeforce heavyweight is on the card. Rogers is a brawler. What pundits may see lacking in skill they see durability and excitement in abundance. Rogers will be facing the giant 6’7” Alexander Volkov and a win could be a step on the long ladder to get to the UFC for a fighter who has yet to measure up to his ability and promise.
Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.