Spoiled rotten: Rating the UFC pay-per-view schedule for the next 3 months

What’s up my peeps! Ricky Bones here…

Say what you will about the UFC cards of days past, but the next three months of UFC pay-per-views make up arguably the most stacked line-up of cards in the post-Zuffa era. Not only do we see the conclusion of a trilogy between two of the most dominant heavyweights the combat sports world has ever seen — UFC Heavyweight Champ Cain Velasquez looks to defend his belt against No. 1 one contender and former champion Junior Dos Santos — but we are also privileged to see a welterweight championship clash between longtime champ Georges St-Pierre and what could be his toughest test to date in the hard hitting Johny Hendricks, a female UFC Bantamweight Championship grudge match between current TUF coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, and last but not least, a possible changing-of-the-guard fight between current UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman and one who many consider the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva.

Yes, it truly is an amazing time to be a fan of the UFC and mixed martial arts. While these are all must-see events, they hold different implications and feature different fighters, and therefore may appeal to different people.

Let’s take a look at the biggest cards closing out 2013, and attempt to determine what pay-per-view, pound-for-pound, is most guaranteed to knock your socks off.

UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III

There is something special about a good rivalry in combat sports that resonates with fight fans. Ali-Frazier, Liddell-Couture, and in this case Dos Santos-Velasquez, embodies what is most rewarding about being a fight fan: Two men performing on the biggest stage imaginable, after training for years to get to this one moment, with at one point in their collection of fights, tasting the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

UFC 166: Velasquez-Dos Santos

UFC 166: Velasquez-Dos Santos

The competitive rivalry between Dos Santos and Velasquez possesses all of these elements, with one unique trait: The victories for each of the fighters involved in this soon to be epic trilogy were both very dominant, yet extremely different.

The first fight between the two heavyweight juggernauts took place at the inaugural UFC on FOX on Nov. 12, 2011, and interestingly enough was the only fight featured on the broadcast. What many thought would be a war of attrition between two of the division’s most talented athletes became a very short affair, with Dos Santos knocking out Velasquez in just 64 seconds into the fight, leaving the 11,607 in attendance at the Honda Center in disbelief. Their next meeting would favor Velasquez, but featured a completely different style of fighting. Using NCAA Division I-caliber wrestling, Velasquez controlled and battered Dos Santos for five brutal rounds, almost finishing the then-champ on a few different occasions, en route to a unanimous decision victory.

That leads us to why the third installment of this already-classic rivalry is likely to give you your bang for your buck. With the first two fights looking so different yet producing dominant results, it’s hard to gauge who has the clear-cut path to victory. Dos Santos could end the fight at any moment with his heavy hands and crisp boxing, while Velasquez can use his methodical blend of wrestling, striking and cardio to wear down his opponent and finish in later rounds. As a fight fan — or a fan of any competition at the highest level — this third installment is something that will have people talking regardless of the outcome.

Rating: 8.8

UFC 166 “Quick Hits”

  • Can Daniel Cormier put in a dominating performance over Roy “Big Country” Nelson, and erase the bad taste from the mouths of fans left from his UFC debut against Frank Mir?
  • Will Gilbert Melendez be able to come back from his heart-breaking loss to then-champion Benson Henderson and make a statement for another shot at the belt with a dominant win over Diego Sanchez?
  • Will Hector Lombard be able to reinvent himself at welterweight and prove that he is not a UFC bust when he fights the always tough and prepared Nate “The Great” Mardquardt?

UFC 167: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks

Let’s keep this one short and sweet, because this card is a no-brainer as far as potential entertainment value.

UFC 167: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks

UFC 167: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks

St-Pierre still remains one of the biggest forces the UFC octagon has ever seen: A mix of speed, cardio, strength and heart that may not come around again in this century. He has fought a murderer’s row of opponents, and though it may not always be the prettiest victories, he finds ways to win.

Enter Hendricks.

A former Division I All American wrestler out of Oklahoma State University, yet known more for his knockout power than his actual wrestling. With the nickname “Big Rigg” — appropriate since he hits like a Mack truck — Hendricks has essentially cleared out any formidable contender at 170 either by knockout or dominating fashion. He not only has the power to finish St-Pierre, but also the wrestling to neutralize GSP’s take downs and keep the fight standing where he is most comfortable.

To many media and fans, Hendricks could be the guy to put St-Pierre’s now historic welterweight title reign to bed. You couple that with a card stacked with big names and divisional implications, and you have a pay-per-view that will be talked about for years to come.

Oh yeah: This is also the card that commemorates the UFC’s 20th anniversary. So game, set, match.

Rating: 10

UFC 167 “Quick Hits”

  • Will Chael Sonnen show that he belongs in the light-heavyweight division with a win over “UFC Tonight” co-host Rashad Evans?
  • After a lackluster fight with Jake Ellenberger, welterweight phenom Rory MacDonald gets thrown to the wolves as he steps in against the surging, heavy-handed veteran Robbie Lawler. Can “Aeres” continue his ascent up the UFC welterweight ladder, or will Lawler prove to be too ruthless for him?
  • It’s do-or-die between two battle-tested heavyweight vets, when Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem step into the cage for a loser-leaves-town fight. Does Mir have anything left in the tank, and can “The Reem” prevent himself from being the greatest UFC bust in the history of the promotion?

UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva II

Yes it happened. I was there. For all of the people still in disbelief over Chris Weidman’s shocking knockout upset over Anderson Silva, who think that Industrial Light & Magic somehow CGI’ed the left hook that sent “The Spider” crumbling to the floor, rest assured that it was heart and skill — not computers — that contributed to the outcome of one of the shocking moments in UFC history.

But to Silva fans who are still speechless, there’s good news: The two fighters are going to go at it again on Dec. 28th in Las Vegas, in a card that is shaping up to be a memorable one, and not just for the main event. It will also feature a co-main event between bitter rivals and current TUF coaches, current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and No. 1 contender Miesha Tate.

Let’s be serious here, though. It’s the fight after that one that we are all anxious to see. Will this be a true changing-of-the-guard fight as Chris Weidman shows the world that the UFC’s middleweight division has passed by  “The Spider”? Or will Silva rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and show how a motivated, focused, humble spider can still take any opponent into “The Matrix”? This fight is difficult to pick, and that’s probably the main contributing factor to it being so intriguing. But I can tell you this: Dec. 28th can’t come fast enough!

Rating: 10

UFC 168 “Quick Hits”

  • Does former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett have one more title run left in him? Or will Travis “Hapa” Browne show the world that he is a legitimate challenger for the UFC Heavyweight strap?
  • Will Uriah Hall pass the test Dana White has set in front of him and show the killer instinct that made him a star on The Ultimate Fighter, or will he be crippled by the always dangerous Chris Leben?

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