It’s New Years Eve weekend and as tradition dictates, it’s a pretty big one for the world of mixed martial arts. This year we’ve got three big events featuring some important matches: UFC 155, DREAM 18 / GLORY 4, and Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye. After the jump we break down some of the more interesting fights on each card that you might wanna check out.
How to watch: December 29th, Prelims at 6:30 EST on Facebook, more prelims at 8PM on FX, and PPV at 10PM
Reasons to watch:
The Return of Duffman: Todd Duffee, once one of the top causes of Sherdog.net fight boners, makes his return to the UFC. Most of his hype and promise is based on the fact that he’s built like a brick shithouse (whatever that means), but I have no doubt that a dominating win over Philip De Fries will have the internet forums lighting up with talk of the Duffman Frate Trane.
Melvin Guillard vs Jamie Varner: Originally set to take place two weeks ago on the TUF US finale, it was moved after Jamie Varner spent the day vomiting like something out of the Exorcist. The TUF finale’s loss is 155’s gain as this was widely considered to be a fight to watch – both guys fight fast and hard and would rather go out on their shield than have a boring fight. This one has fight of the night written all over it.
Joe Lauzon vs Jim Miller: Joe Lauzon – 6 submission of the night bonuses. 4 fight of the night bonuses. 1 KO of the night bonus. Jim Miller – 3 submission of the night bonuses and 1 fight of the night bonus. Nuff said.
Junior Dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez: I don’t even know why I’m including this one in the list – it should be obvious why this fight is a big deal. Two of the best heavyweights squaring off in a rematch that might as well be the first time we get to see them fight since the first bout only lasted 8 seconds. Unfortunately for Cain, that 8 seconds is still telling: Junior has the power and speed to knock him out, and while Velasquez will undoubtedly last longer and put up a harder fight I expect the end result to be the same. Anything can happen in a fight though, and this is not a sealed deal by any measure.
How to watch: The event will be aired December 31st on BS Fuji at 5AM EST. That’s a Japanese station, so expect to have to wait until afterwards for video to hit Youtube. We’ll do our best to wrap up all the fights and post em here.
Reasons to watch:
Tim Sylvia vs Satoshi Ishii: Ishii was supposed to be the guy who brought Japanese MMA back from the brink of death, but instead he hasn’t had much of an effect at all. Between a rushed debut and predictably mediocre results and a number of statements about giving up Japanese citizenship to become an American, the former Olympic judo gold medalist hasn’t exactly been stoking the flames of superstardom. He’s still a big enough name to headline events – last year Fedor took him out in under 3 minutes and now he steps up to face former UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia. It probably won’t be pretty, but it will be an interesting meterstick to see where these two fallen icons stand in the modern MMA landscape.
Mirko Crocop vs Shinichi Suzukawa: Suzukawa is a former sumo wrester who moved over to pro wrestling after being disgraced in a pot smoking scandal. Controversy continues to follow Suzukawa around – he was accused of legitimately beating the shit out of Mark Coleman during a pro wrestling bout. He was was also set to be involved in a wrestling match with Bob Sapp that promoters attempted to change to a real MMA match on the night of the fight after television producers refused to include Suzukawa on the broadcast. That one probably wasn’t Suzukawa’s fault … our guess is the promoters decided to try and save themselves from paying Sapp’s fee by making terms of the fight unagreeable. Regardless, intruige seems to follow Suzukawa around whereever he goes, and it will be interesting to see what he does against a aged and slower Crocop.
DREAM 18 / GLORY 4
How to watch: DREAM 18 starts at 2:00 AM EST on Monday December 31st. GLORY 4 will start at 6:00 AM EST. Both will be live on the Fight Network, and tape delayed on the CBS Sports Network. Internet people can watch it live via PPV at www.gloryworldseries.com.
Reasons to watch:
Melvin Manhoef vs Denis Kang: Melvin Manhoef always comes out of the gate like a bull with a red hot poker shoved up its ass, and that to me is worth the price of admission on this fight alone. Pair him up with an opponent like Denis Kang who has all the skill in the world but can never seem to put it all together, and you have an interesting dynamic for a fight that could go either way.
Hayato Sakurai vs Phil Baroni: We are and always will be mega-fans of the NYBA and after his last uplifting win at ONE FC he will be trying to get a streak going with a win over aged legend Hyato Mach Sakurai. Now I know what you’re thinking – Baroni belongs in the same museum as Sakurai, but at least we know that Phil has been training his ass off at AKA. As for Sakurai, who knows? Aging Japanese superstars have a history of showing up for fights like this out of shape and with smoking habits. If Mach doesn’t take Baroni seriously, he could find himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout.
Shinya Aoki vs Antonio McKee: McKee is a decent challenge for Aoki in that he has a 28-4-2 record and was riding an 8 year win streak before a single loss in the UFC sent him back to the minors. On the other hand, he seems tailor made for Aoki’s style – 20 of his 28 wins come via decision because his bread and butter is taking dudes down and humping them for three rounds. That’s where Aoki does his best work, so expect a short night for McKee if that’s his plan. But a good wrestler can be just as adept at keeping things on the feet – if McKee can keep it standing and turn this into a boxing match, he could win. And bore us to tears. But that’s never been a concern for him in the past.
The GLORY Heavyweight Kickboxing Tournament: I’m a sucker for heavyweight kickboxing tournaments from Japan. It brings me back to a happier time when the Land of the Rising Sun owned combat sports and did it big and brutal. 16 heavyweights will fight a one night tournament to crown a tourney champion. Included in the field: Semmy Schilt, Sergei Kharitonov, Gokhan Saki, Remy Bonjasky, Errol Zimmerman, Peter Aerts, and Daniel Ghita. This is the tournament that proves GLORY is the true successor to K-1, and here’s hoping it helps bring back a flicker of the former bonfire that was kickboxing in Japan.