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3/30/16: Top MMA fights coming in April 2016
A new month brings a stacked schedule of events in the MMA world, with a number of significant and intriguing matchups upcoming. Today I look at my favorites on the April schedule.
5. Benson Henderson vs. Andrey Koreshkov: Henderson’s Bellator debut isn’t the most interesting option for him as far as opponents on that roster are concerned, but he gets his first crack at gold since August of 2013. The welterweight division in Bellator has been a bit maligned by the fact that former Champ Ben Askren left after taking out most of the division – Koreshkov included – but the arrival of Henderson is a must-see moment on Spike come April 22.
4. Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo: One of three fights from the UFC 197 card on this list (that event is simply fantastic), the flyweight division’s only champion faces his latest test in the Olympic gold medalist. “Mighty Mouse” is one of the very best fighters in the world, and well worth watching every time he’s in the cage – although some have seemed to feel otherwise given the numbers he draws. That said, it’s a chance for him to get yet another signature win, as Cejudo is a very good fighter who nevertheless doesn’t represent anything new for the champ as far as challengers are concerned.
3. Anthony Pettis vs. Edson Barboza: Third from the top on the UFC 197 card, former UFC Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis gets an opponent tailor-made for a fantastically entertaining bout after the disappointment that was his fight with Eddie Alvarez in January. Barboza doesn’t have the ground game to stifle Pettis, but he’s immensely dangerous on the feet. That said, this fight is the showcase for “Showtime,” and it’s on him to follow through in the cage. The prospect of some type of highlight-reel finish makes this one an incredibly intriguing fight for the month.
2. Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones: Jones getting back into the cage – if that still winds up happening – is the real draw here, especially given his win over Cormier just over a year ago. The feud has legitimate heat behind it, with Cormier intent on proving himself the superior man as well as fighter, with Jones out to reclaim what he never actually lost in the cage.
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson: This is just the best fight on the schedule in April. Nurmagomedov is the last man to have beaten current UFC Lightweight Champ Rafael dos Anjos, and he’s returning after a long layoff to try to reclaim a spot as the No. 1 contender. TUF 13 winner Ferguson is coming off a fantastic December win over the aforementioned Barboza – his seventh straight win – and he’s got the combination of striking and exciting submission ability to perhaps finally find a way to hand Nurmagomedov a loss. It could bring five rounds of elite level lightweight action to network television, and if you don’t tune in for any other fight this month, you should at least flip to Fox for this one.
[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]
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