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4/27/16: Top MMA Fights Coming in May 2016
The April schedule is complete with no major fights this weekend, and the May schedule is absolutely stacked. With that in mind, today I take a look at the five fights I’m anticipating most next month. Have others you’re looking forward to more? Send me your list to firstname.lastname@example.org!
5. Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic (UFC 198): UFC 198 is legitimately one of the strongest cards in the history of the UFC, and the main event sitting as just my fifth most anticipated fight of the month is evidence of that. Werdum finally returns to the cage to defend the title he won in June of last year. Miocic enters his title shot off two straight TKO victories, the most recent over Andrei Arlovski being most impressive. This is a very good fight on its own merits, and gives Werdum a legitimate contender against which to defend that title for the first time.
4. Demian Maia vs. Matt Brown (UFC 198): Maia has been excellent for the most part since dropping to the welterweight division, and that’s been especially the case since suffering a couple of setback decision losses. Brown’s still one of the more dangerous and entertaining fighters in the division, and though he on paper is little more than another body for Maia to move up the ranks against, he’s got the weapons to turn things on their heads here. It’s a great matchup no matter what happens.
3. Aljamain Sterling vs. Bryan Caraway (UFC Fight Night 88): Though this fight is taking place on UFC Fight Pass to close out the month, it’s perhaps a more relevant fight than the main event simply due to Sterling’s involvement. Sterling’s re-signing with the UFC keeps him among the top prospects at 135 lbs., and this is yet another matchup that can move him up the ranks. A win over Caraway puts him very close to title contention, and the fight itself is one of the most intriguing on the schedule.
2. Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt (UFC Fight Night 88): Two fighters at a combined 29-0, with a long history of stoppage victories between them. This is just superb matchmaking, with the winner exiting this card from Las Vegas on the short list for title contention in the bantamweight division. The loser of this one remains a contender, by virtue of age, skill, and other options, but whomever wins scores what may just be their signature victory. It’s such a great fight on paper on every level, and should be an incredible bout come May 29.
1. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Vitor Belfort (UFC 198): Despite Souza’s “loss” to Yoel Romero earlier this year, the former Strikeforce Champ remains one of the best fighters in the division, and this fight with Belfort is just the most intriguing fight coming this month. Souza’s as good as they come on the ground, and though his striking game has improved greatly over the years, this fight is really about what he can do in the grappling game if (and only if) he can avoid the blitz attack from Belfort. Skill-wise, this is Jacare’s fight to win, and that victory would put him into position as the next contender. Everything about this fight is excellent, and I don’t think the matchup can be topped on this next month’s schedule.
[Photo (c) Jason Silva via USA Today Sports]
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