By Alex Metalis | 10.26.16
There have been numerous blockbuster match-ups in the UFC in 2016. Many of them delivered: Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor lived up to the hype surrounding their bouts and put forth stunning fights at UFC 196 and UFC 202.
There are, however, even more marquee attractions in the wings to round out the year, including the return of queen Ronda Rousey against bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes. Which impending fights will sizzle and which will fizzle? Here’s a list of three fights that are unlikely to disappoint:
Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez (UFC 205)
Whenever Conor McGregor fights, there’s an inordinate amount of hype surrounding the event. McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, however, merits the extensive hype surrounding it.
The Irish sensation is a polarizing figure in the MMA community, but no one can doubt that his fighting style is enchanting. He’s elegant, fierce, and unpredictable when he’s locked in the Octagon. McGregor’s tango partner for UFC 205, Eddie Alvarez, has the moxie and skills to test the depth of McGregor’s heart.
It’s a compelling clash of styles. Alvarez will look to smother McGregor and expose the featherweight champion’s supposed lack of toughness. This fight will crackle because there’s no way the Philadelphia native won’t push the action — he’s always aggressive and unyielding. Two dynamic forces will collide. See Eddie’s wars with Michael Chandler in Bellator or his comeback win against Gilbert Melendez to understand his zealous, determined style.
Both men are intrepid. They are both wickedly powerful. Furthermore, the stakes for the contest are extremely high — will McGregor triumph and continue running the show? Will the Notorious One seize another belt? The drama surrounding this fight is delicious and the match itself is surefire entertainment.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tony Ferguson (UFC Fight Night 98)
This fight is drifting under the radar, but there’s no way Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tony Ferguson won’t be a barn-burner.
Ferguson has won eight in a row in the UFC’s most dangerous division while earning six post-fight performance bonuses. “El Cucuy” is aggressive, tough as hell, forceful, and well-rounded. Now he is pitted against an opponent who buzzsaws his way through his foes just like Ferguson does. A slugfest is imminent.
Dos Anjos lost his lightweight title to Eddie Alvarez in July, but not before putting forth one of the best runs in lightweight history. He’s a tank among the division; seeming almost bulletproof for a time before Alvarez cracked his chin. The Brazilian dynamo is every bit as aggressive and wieldy as Ferguson. He plowed through Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, and Benson Henderson; making the warriors seem dainty in his presence.
Check out the harsh beating RDA put on Nate Diaz in 2014:
Luke Rockhold vs Ronaldo Souza II (UFC Fight Night 101)
Both Rockhold and Jacare are top-five fighters. The winner of this match will be due for a title shot. Beyond the ranking implications, though, these two are elite fighters and their styles match up brilliantly. If their first contest was any indication, these two were born to fight each other.
The American narrowly squeaked by Souza to gain the Strikeforce middleweight title in 2011. Many pundits and fans scored the fight for Souza. Not only was it a competitive bout, but the pace was high and the juxtaposition of styles was vivid. Rockhold scored with slick rangy attacks while the champion applied beastly pressure. To Rockhold’s credit, he did not wilt under Jacare’s grappling onslaught.
Rockhold and Jacare have flourished in the UFC since their first squabble. It will be interesting to see what adjustments will be made and if their gameplans will remain the same. Expect an astute, highbrow display of elite martial skills when these two wizards of violence meet again in November.