In the world of public relations, it’s a common strategy to release bad news right before the weekend or a holiday so no one really pays much attention to it, or has too much time to comment on it before it’s stale. The UFC has been doing it wrong, because it set a slew of exciting fights right before the Thanksgiving break, leaving them lost in the shuffle of excessive eating, shopping, and football. Here are the three that I am most excited about.
Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida – UFC 157
This is like that Christmas present you picked out for yourself, saw arrive at the house, but had to wait for because your mom insisted on wrapping it and putting it under the tree. Dana White promised this fight shortly after the UFC 151 blow-up, and it pits two of the seminal figures in that debacle against each other. The fight is interesting because it will challenge Hendo to do more than just stalk with his monstrous right hand and hope Machida walks into it. Machida will likely try to evade the right and dart in and out with his trademark elusive countering. We will see if Hendo is willing to fight with a little more strategy, close the distance, and try to rough Machida up instead of just looking to go back and forth in an exciting, sloppy slug fest. In the alternative, it would be great to see if the H-Bomb can knock Machida’s amazing ‘stache clear off his face.
Jay Hieron vs. Erick Silva – UFC 156
For Silva it was a case of too much too soon. He had cruised in his first three octagon appearances (though going 2-1 due to a controversial DQ), until being matched against Jon Fitch at UFC 153. Although Silva was clearly up to the challenge, he lost to the perennial contender Fitch in a fight of the night effort. For Hieron, it was a case of waiting forever for a disappointing result. After years of being lost in the shuffle in the IFL, Strikeforce, Affliction, and Bellator, Hieron finally made his return to the octagon at UFC on FX last month against Jake Ellenberger, but suffered a unanimous decision defeat. Now we will see whether Silva can get back on the right track, and move his way back up the ladder, or whether Hieron will finally prove that he was the best fighter not in the UFC in recent years.
Todd Duffee vs. Phil De Fries – UFC 155
And now the newly-announced fight that I am most excited about, even to the point where it is a bit irrational. After Matt Mitrione left the bout to challenge Roy Nelson at the TUF Finale, the UFC decided to pull the Duffee alarm to have him fight De Fries. In case you somehow forgot about Duffee, he made his debut by demolishing Tim Hague in seven seconds at UFC 102 in one of the scariest fights I’ve even seen. I remember being terrified Duffee was going to find me and kick my ass, even though I was halfway across the country at a Buffalo Wild Wings, and did nothing to prompt such a response. From there things took a turn for the disappointing and Duffee never really had the chance to live up to the hype that I was more than willing to buy into that first night. Hopefully next month Duffee will cruise past De Fries and get back to being one of the scariest fighters in the UFC.