It seems that every year, the UFC puts on at least one card that is suppose to be the ultimate fight card of the year. This year, the card that sticks out seems to be UFC 187, although there have been changes that have knocked the hype down slightly. This got me thinking: What would be the ultimate fight card at the moment? Obviously this is a thought that can change along with the rankings and new champions, but it is a thought provoking question regardless. What is a card that not only would be the best of the year, but possibly one of the best events of all time? My criteria is simply to make an event that has 12 fights that make the most sense.
John Dodson vs Hendry Cejudo
The card starts with the little guys. The champion Demetrious Johnson has basically cleaned out the entire division at this point. His actual challengers that are worthy are few and far between. This is why this match-up for a number one contender's fight is intriguing. On one hand, you have John Dodson, a fighter who has previously lost to the champion but took him into deeper waters than any other challenger, making a rematch a hopeful shake-up in the division. On the other hand, you have Cejudo, a relatively new fighter, with only eight fights on his record, but also the youngest American wrestler to win a gold medal at the Olympics. His skill set, while inexperienced in the octagon, is definitely something to be reckoned with. This would be a great fight to start the pace of the night.
Carlos Condit vs Matt Brown
Both men are currently competing at the top of the Welterweight division, one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC. Both also have a long history of being hungry fighters that seem as though they are willing to die for a fight rather than simply losing speed and pace. In the current UFC rankings, Condit is rated at 4 and Brown is rated at 5. The two fighters were scheduled to fight each other at UFC on Fox 9, but Brown had to pull out for a back injury. This would be a perfect fight not only to confirm each man's position in the Welterweight rankings, but put on a fight that will be remembered for years to come.
Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida II/Joe Lauzon
Diego Sanchez, along with becoming a magnet for controversial decisions, has participated in some of the most exciting fights in the history of the company and has a reputation as a fan-favorite scrapper. One of his most famous fights was a war against Clay Guida. Guida has since moved down to Featherweight, where he has had a mix of success and defeat. Sanchez has been hot and cold at both Lightweight and Welterweight. He has recently tossed around the idea of moving down to 145 as a way to get a new start. What better way to get a new start than against an old rival? The fight makes sense and would be entertaining and fast paced enough that it would need to be filmed at a slower speed than the rest of the fights. What could be better?
The answer is a fight between an exciting fighter like Sanchez and a man who holds a record for the most post-fight bonuses: Joe Lauzon. Both fighters are notorious for wars that result in a bloodbath where both give it their all and refuse to be finished. This fight would have fight of the year written all over it.
Mauricio Rua vs Rashad Evans
Both are former Light-Heavyweight champions and have been in the top of their division for years. Shogun has been going downhill over the course of his past few fights while Evans has been out for a year and a half. This fight could be great for both of them. Neither fighter has beaten a current UFC top 10 Light-Heavyweight. This could be an opportunity for Shogun, currently ranked #9, to show that he can still handle the best in the world. Likewise, this is a chance for Rashad to show that he can handle a top 10 fighter without showing ring rust. This is a fight that was suppose to happen in 2011 and could still be an exciting bout today.
Luke Rockhold vs Ronaldo Souza II
These two warriors have fought each other before. Their previous bout was for the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship, where Rockhold bested Jacare in a decision victory. Both fighters are very different from where their skill sets were in their previous fight. Jacare has not lost since that night while Rockhold, who was knocked out by Vitor Belfort, has gone up against four top Middlweights since his last defeat, finishing every one of them, including being one of only two people to submit Lyoto Machida. Rockhold has shown he deserves to fight for the title while Souza, who was supposed to fight Yoel Romero but had to settle for Chris Cammozi, has shown he can defeat the best of the best. Why not have these two duke it out for the number one contender's spot?
Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber III
Grudge matches are big business for the UFC. Some of the biggest, most hyped fights in history were fights where the fighters legitimately do not help each other, such as Lesnar vs Mir II, Jones vs Cormier, Evans vs Jackson. Another fight that was a grudge match brought to life was Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber. The two do not like each other, leading back to their first fight in the WEC. Faber beat Cruz in their first fight while Cruz edged Faber in their second outing. A third fight was scheduled at one point but Cruz' constant injuries caused the end of the bout. This fight would be needed for Cruz to show that he can still take on a top fighter before fighting for the title that he was stripped of while Faber can use this as a stepping stone to show that, despite losing when fighting for a title each time, he is still champion caliber.
Junior dos Santos vs Travis Browne
An obvious choice would be to pick dos Santos vs Alistair Overeem, but this match up makes more sense. Dos Santos and Browne are both top 5 Heavyweights with a strong stand-up game and very tough chin. This fight works for dos Santos because it allows him to remain active among top fighters while Cain Velasquez is still champion, since while Cain is the champ Junior will not be receiving another title fight anytime soon after taking two extremely brutal beatings from the champion. Browne has had big wins at Heavyweight but needs to prove himself against a top Heavyweight since losing a decision to Fabricio Werdum. The big strikers would most likely set off fireworks in the main event of the preliminaries of this fight card.
Dan Henderson vs Nick Diaz
Dan Henderson is at the end of his career and everyone knows it. After dropping fights to actual contenders such as Daniel Cormier at Light-Heavyweight and Gegard Mousasi at Middleweight, he needs to either hang up the gloves or simply take novelty fights. This is where Nick Diaz comes in. Diaz has already shown that he is willing to fight at Middleweight against an opponent that is simply for the novelty of the fight when he fought Anderson Silva earlier this year. The two have very strong chins, striking, and a ground game. Diaz has criticized fighters in the past who wrestle their opponents to a decision and has expressed his desire to fight "real hitters". Dan Henderson, despite being an Olympic wrestler, could be just that striker. Diaz toyed with Silva during their fight since Silva is a counter striker. Henderson is as aggressive as possible, giving Diaz the war that he has been asking for.
Anthony Pettis vs Conor McGregor
Whether it is at Lightweight or Featherweight, this fight makes sense. Pettis recently lost his Lightweight crown to Rafael dos Anjos and lost it very convincingly. The idea of him getting a rematch soon does not seem like the best idea, especially with a division so deep in talent. Pettis has toyed with the idea of moving down in weight previously when he had the chance to fight Jose Aldo for the title. With McGregor fighting for the title, Pettis could possibly fight him for the title should the Irishman beat the current champion. If not for the title, the two should still fight. McGregor has shown very crisp and stylistic striking, as has Pettis with his famous Showtime kick. This fight could be Pettis testing the waters in Featherweight or McGregor doing the same in Lightweight. Either way, someone is going to sleep.
Anderson Silva vs Georges St-Pierre
Now the big guns come out. Sure, this fight would have made more sense in 2012, before Silva was made minced meat by Weidman and before St-Pierre was beaten down like never before in his "win" against Johny Hendricks. Sure Silva will most likely not fight for a title again and GSP is contemplating whether or not he will ever even return. So why does this fight cause so much excitement among fans? Despite recent events with both fighters, they are both considered by most, if not everyone, to be the top two fighters of all time. One is currently still an active fighter and the other is taking a hiatus and could easily return. It doesn't matter if the idea of the fight is slightly outdated. This is the Mayweather vs Pacquiao of MMA (but hopefully much, much, much more exciting than that fight). People will pay and pay greatly for the chance to watch the two G.O.A.Ts fight each other. Obviously this could headline any pay-per-view but for this card, this works as the top non-title fight.
Co-Main Event: Women's Bantamweight Title
Ronda Rousey vs Christiane Justino (Cyborg)
I believe that there is no fight currently that makes more sense than this fight in the Women's Bantamweight division. Ronda Rousey is an amazing athlete. In fact, she is too good. The rest of her division is light-years behind her in regards to skill set, resulting in her last two fights totaling only 30 seconds. Her toughest challenger was Miesha Tate, who is the only fighter to go past the first round against the champion. There is only one other woman fighter that seems to be at Rousey's skill level: Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino (Santos). Cyborg is the former Strikeforce Women's Featherweight champion and the current Invicita FC Featherweight champion. She has shown her dominance in the Featherweight division for years now. She is currently planning on moving down to Bantamweight. After a test bout, she will be eligible to fight Rousey and set up the biggest women's fight ever and one of the biggest MMA fights of all time.
Main Event: Heavyweight Championship
Cain Velasquez vs Jon Jones
This is possibly the most intriguing fight on the card. Rousey vs Cyborg makes the most sense but most likely, Rousey would win. This would be a toss-up. Cain Velasquez, when he is healthy, is one of the most dominate champions we have. He has only lost one fight, a quick knockout at the hands of Junior dos Santos, and has VERY convincingly shown that his only loss was simple luck from his opponent. Other than his lone loss, he has not lost a single round. He battered dos Santos to a bloody pulp twice, with the second resulting in a 5th round finish. He brutally knocked Minotauro Nogueira out. He beat Bigfoot Silva so badly that it looked like a murder scene. But his big name opponents are few and far between along with his fight schedule due to injuries. Jon Jones is well on his way to becoming the greatest of all time. He has only truly been tested once, by Alexander Gustufsson, and has dominated the rest of his opponents. He uses his size, length, and strength to batter opponents. This brings up a good question: how would he fare at Heavyweight? Jones' frame is massive for the 205 pound cut off for Light-Heavyweight. He could easily make Heavyweight and still beat his opponents. Comebine this with the lack of depth in both divisions and you have a major fight that could go down as one of the biggest fights of all time