COMMENTARY | As we enter the final quarter of 2013, the UFC has packed its schedule with a series of can't-miss fights that are sure to end the year with a bang. The month of October will be no exception, as the promotion has three events scheduled before the calendar switches to November.
On October 9, the UFC returns to Fox Sports 1 with UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs. Shields. Ten days later, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos finish their trilogy at UFC 166 on pay per view. Finally, the UFC closes out the month on October 26 with UFC Fight Night 30: Machida vs. Munoz on Fox Sports 2.
With so much on tap, it can be tough to know what to look forward to the most, as fights can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of a busy schedule. To help prevent that, here is a list of the five best UFC fights in October not to miss.
5. Sarah Kaufman vs. Jessica Eye: UFC 166 (Preliminary Card)
Kaufman is the former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion and enters the fight with a 16-2 record. Although she has already lost to current UFC champion Ronda Rousey, Kaufman's name recognition and strong record make her a marketable commodity in the UFC's burgeoning women's division. Eye makes her UFC debut in what will clearly be her highest profile challenge. She is 10-1 and went 3-0 in Bellator, including an impressive standing choke win over Zoila Frausto Gurgel.
This is exactly the kind of fight that can get lost in a busy schedule of events. On the preliminary card for UFC 166, the fight has huge implications in the UFC women's bantamweight division. Considering that the division is still in its infant stages, anyone who can string together a few quality wins will be in line for a potential title shot in the near future. Whoever takes the fight between Kaufman and Eye will have earned such a quality win. Plus, this fight has the makings of an exciting scrap.
4. Erick Silva vs. Dong Hyun Kim: UFC Fight Night 29
Silva stormed onto the UFC scene at UFC 134 with a 40-second knockout of Luis Ramos. He would quickly follow that up with two more impressive performances (albeit one of them a disqualification loss) before a huge step up in competition against division stalwart Jon Fitch at UFC 153 last year. Fitch won the fight in a thrilling three-round decision, derailing much of Silva's initial hype.
He now looks to regain his momentum and status as one of the top young welterweights in the UFC against Kim. Like Fitch, Kim represents another step up in competition for the young Brazilian. With a no-nonsense style, the South Korean has a 17-2-1 record, with UFC wins over notables Matt Brown, Nate Diaz and T.J. Grant. As a result, this fight will serve to either confirm that Silva is a legitimate prospect with title aspirations or prove that he is still not ready for the next level of competition.
3. Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez: UFC 166
Melendez returns to the octagon at UFC 166 after a disappointing close decision loss in his attempt to win the UFC lightweight title in April. He said after the loss that he was looking for a fight that would provide the quickest route to another shot at the title. While Sanchez may not represent the top of the lightweight food chain, he does represent a big-name opponent who will provide Melendez an opportunity to have an exciting fight.
Sanchez has been up and down since losing his chance at the lightweight title in 2009. He has bounced between welterweight and lightweight and struggled to string together a series of quality wins. One thing has remained consistent for Sanchez, however: his ability to put on exciting fights. This is illustrated by his three "Fight of the Night" awards in his last four contests. As a result, even though Melendez would seem to have a clear advantage in the fight, Sanchez' heart and ability to thrill make this fight a must-see.
2. Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz: UFC Fight Night 30
Initially, the main event for UFC Fight Night 30 was to feature Mark Munoz against Michael Bisping in a fight that was to be Bisping's return to England. Things were changed, however, when it was revealed that Bisping suffered a recurrence of an eye injury in training, and was forced to withdraw. In his place steps Machida, the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
As exciting as Munoz vs. Bisping was shaping up to be, the insertion of Machida makes the bout even more intriguing. Considering that Machida was presumed to be in line for another shot at the light heavyweight title, an impressive win in his middleweight debut could conceivably catapult him to the top of the division rankings, especially if friend Anderson Silva is defeated again by Chris Weidman. Munoz will serve as a stern test for the Dragon, featuring All-American wrestling and an evolving all around game. It will be great to see how Machida looks at middleweight and whether Munoz will be able to solve his puzzle.
1. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos: UFC 166
Even though the UFC has scheduled many compelling fights in October, none can compete with the main event of UFC 166. On that night, Velasquez defends his UFC heavyweight title against former champion dos Santos as the two complete their trilogy. Easily the two most dominant heavyweights currently in the UFC, each will look to take the deciding third fight and run the division for the foreseeable future.
In their first fight, dos Santos famously knocked Velasquez out with one shot. In the rematch, the tide turned, with Cain administering a five-round beating to reclaim the belt. The third fight will come down to whether dos Santos can implement his striking and hit another big blow while avoiding the intense pressure from Velasquez. If Velasquez is able to impose his will as he did in the second fight, it is difficult seeing dos Santos (or anyone else) taking the title away from him. Either way, from the opening of the fight to the final horn, this is the kind of fight that will have fans on the edge of their seats the entire way.
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Del Pearson is a big MMA fan who has been to many live UFC events. His all-time favorite fighter is Randy Couture. Follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson44.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Cain Velasquez
- Junior dos Santos
- Lyoto Machida