Credit where credit’s due – the UFC really are pulling out all the stops to provide us with some truly mouth-watering fight cards in the first six months of 2011.
In the past we’ve been used to getting one, or perhaps on special occasions two ‘major’ fights per PPV event, but in many of the recent fight cards that have been announced for 2011 we’re seeing as many as three.
It all starts with UFC 126 on February 5th which is headlined by a middleweight title fight between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, alongside a star-studded fight that’s worthy of a main event itself in Rich Franklin Vs Forrest Griffin, plus Jon Jones Vs Ryan Bader.
A month later UFC 128 has the light-heavyweight title showdown between ‘Shogun’ Rua and Rashad Evans, plus a supporting main card cast that includes the debut of the WEC’s biggest star Urijah Faber along with Cro Cop Vs Brendan Schaub and Nate Marquardt Vs Akiyama.
That’s a well rounded line-up, particularly when you consider there’s also UFC On Versus 3 and UFC Fight Night 24, headlined by no less than Tito Ortiz Vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira during the same month.
Moving on, April 30th sees the UFC’s first visit to Ontario for UFC 129 which was always expected to have a strong card as the promotion look to break both their attendance and gate records.
As such there’s two title fights planned, with GSP defending his welterweight belt against Jake Shields, while featherweight champ Jose Aldo will also make his debut against an as yet unannounced opponent. Meanwhile co-main event duties are expected to be taken by Lyoto Machida Vs Randy Couture, and we’ve not even mentioned the likes of Nate Diaz, Phil Davis or Ben Henderson yet on this extremely deep card.
After such a big schedule of events in successive months you could be forgiven for thinking that we’d have to suffer a few cards that were a little lighter on star power, but the good news is that’s not the case at all.
In fact UFC 130 on May 28th is as good as anything we’ve mentioned above. Reports suggest it’ll be the destination of Frankie Edgar Vs Gray Maynard 3, Quinton Rampage Jackson Vs Thiago Silva and Frank Mir Vs Roy Nelson. That’s a heck of a line-up for memorial day weekend.
The first half of the year is expected to round out with UFC 131 on June 12th in Vancouver. That show is expected to play host to TUF 13 coaches Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos end of season showdown. That alone is enough to sell this particular PPV, but the likes of Shane Carwin and Kenny Florian are also tipped to fight on this one.
Considering there’s also a few more free events such as UFC Fight Night 25 and The Ultimate Fighter Finale 13 to be shoe-horned into the schedule it really is an action-packed six months of fights.
What’s impressive is that they are able to provide this level of quantity and quality on a monthly basis while heavyweight and bantamweight champions Cain Velasquez and Dominick Cruz are out injured alongside other popular stars like Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
With strikeforce also stepping up their game with the announcement of their eagerly anticipated heavyweight tournament it really is a great time to be a mixed martial arts fan.