And here it is, the last card of 2011. A year that gave us MMA fans a LOT of great cards and amazing fights. The main event has been on the mind of many MMA fans since Brock won the HW title in the UFC. Let's hope it delivers.
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Diego Nunes - Manny took a big dive in relevance. From fighting for the title against Aldo in the WEC after a win over Mike Brown to fighting in the Facebook prelims after a loss to Tyson Griffin, it's been a rough 2011. Diego Nunes also lost all the momentum he got from beating Mike Brown (who has pretty much become the FW punching bag, it's sad) at the hands of Kenny Florian. They say there is some bad blood between them, let's hope it delivers an exciting fight.
Matt Riddle vs. Luis Ramos - Riddle is very entertaining fighter (his last 2 fights, despite losses, were great). He desesperately needs a win so he'll put in the effort against Luis Ramos.
Jacob Volkmann vs. Efrain Escudero - This undercard is very weird. Most of the guys fighting have losses to other guys fighting in the same undercard. Escudero beat Gamburyan. Volkmann beat Castillo. And so on. Escudero makes his return to the UFC after a stint in the B-Leagues following his brutal loss to Charles Oliveira (who ended up being a dub, despite the great 1st fight). Volkmann is bottom-tier LW talent but he's determined and resilient. It's not an "gimme" fight but if Escudero wants to hang around at LW in the UFC, he must be able to beat guys like Volkmann who are pretty one-dimensional but stubborn. If not, it's back to Bellator or Tachi Palace for him (or maybe a cut to FW?).
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Sean Pierson - After getting raped by Carlos Condit with ease, Stun Gun gets dropped to the undercard and many rungs down the WW ladder. Pierson also lost his last fight to a top contender, Ellenberguer, who came in on short notice. Seeing how the Juggernaut has been disposing of his opponents, not much shame in that. Both guys want to start their long climb up the releavance ladder in the WW division.
Preliminary card (televised)
Anthony Njokuani vs. Danny Castillo - Castillo is a mixed bag. He holds a win over Dustin Poirier at LW but wasn't able to get past Volkmann. He trounced Shamar Bailey but who hasn't? I don't think he has the skills to hang around the UFC LW division since he holds losses to a lot of the top LW in the division. Njokuani is in pretty much the same situation, losses to Henderson, Cerrone. His winning seems more dependent on his opponent not being able to stiffle his agressive Muay thai than to his own skills, as seen in the Barboza fight. Let's see how it goes.
Ross Pearson vs. Junior Assunção - Pearson is hard as nails and has a nice skillset. He stood against Edson Barboza so Assunção shouldn't give him much trouble, seeing how his first fight in the UFC was a pretty lackluster decision.
Nam Phan vs. Jimy Hettes - Nam Phan is a dumbass. After his great 2nd fight against Garcia he says he doesn't want to go for a 3rd one? You're a middle-tier FW, don't you like money? I hope Hettes smashes his orbital.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Alexander Gustafsson - Gustafsson is one of the most interesting prospects in the LHW division. His only loss is to Phil Davis, another of the LHW division's top prospects. Facing him is eternal gatekeeper and litmus test Matyushenko. If Gustafsson can get past him, he should be on the path for contendership in 2012 and challenging for the title in 2013. If he loses, he stays right were he is now.
Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks - Fitch must be fuming now that Condit and Diaz are going to battle it out for the title. But all is not lost. If he could put Hendricks away with a dominant finish, maybe, just maybe, Dana White would be mercifull and give him a title shot (not going to happen, probably to the winner of Kampmann vs Alves). Hendricks has nothing to lose in this fight but lose he will.
Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone - Nate Diaz is a dumbass of epic proportions. He returns to LW after 2 devastating losses (the one to Rory was absolutely brutal), gets a win over a washed out Takanori Gomi and thinks he's the **** like his brother. No you're not. And for your health, I hope you realize it. Cerrone has been on an absolute tear, much like Henderson, smashing ex-contenders left and right. He's bigger than Nate, stronger and more skilled. Either Diaz gets a lucky submission win or this is going to be a one-sided beatdown. Cerrone would probably drag this out for 3 round out of spite.
Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem - And here is the money maker. A fight people have been asking for a multitude of reasons. Overeem only defended his Strikeforce HW title against Brett Rogers, won the DREAM title in 20 seconds against Todd Duffee and put up a lackluster fight against Werdum, his last relevant opponent. This fight will be his litmus test: is Overeem a top tier HW or just a can-crusher with a very padded record? Facing him his Lesnar, a guy who doesn't have much experience overall but has proven to be a formidable opponent and has fought all round top tier competition. A win for either guy here puts him on a collision course with the only streaking HW right now, Frank Mir. That or a direct title shot for a savage beating at the hands of Junior dos Santos. Seeing how it's been over a year since Lesnar last fought, this fight will edge on how well he was able to overcome the diverticulitis and improve on his skillset. He can get this fight, provided he doesn't try to win it in a stand-up war. Can-crusher or not, Overeem has brutal striking that hurts the same way if you're top tier or a can. Will this top Shogun vs Henderson or Bones vs Machida? Surely it has the potential.