I hope you like rematches, because the UFC will be serving up a boatload of them in the coming months. Everywhere you look, a do-over is in order. The discerning mixed martial arts fan will scarcely be able to drop 50 bucks on a pay-per-view between now and February without seeing two guys going at it for the second, third, even fourth time. Hey, it beats coming up with new ideas.
Here are the next few months’ biggest rematches in (more or less) chronological order …
The recently dethroned UFC light heavyweight champion had a little trouble with the law in the wake of losing his title to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86. A few years ago in the Pride organization, he had a whole lot of trouble with “The Axe Murderer.” Here, Jackson gets the chance to right the ship on a number of different levels.
The big questions are whether “Rampage” is returning to the cage too quickly after the … uh … crazy rampage through southern California that left him facing multiple criminal charges and whether he can bounce back enough by Decemeber to slay his greatest nemesis in Silva.
The former Pride poster-boy served Jackson with a pair of highlight reel knockouts the first two times they fought overseas (in Nov. 2003 and Oct. 2004, respectively) and was largely credited with putting “Rampage’s” career on ice before he hooked up with trainer Juanito Ibarra and got back on track in the UFC. Ibarra is gone now and there’s no telling how Jackson will respond to being back in the ring with Silva, who his coming off a KO victory over Keith Jardine at UFC 84.
Mark Coleman vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua II
Coleman’s drop to 205-pounds has breathed some life into his flagging career. Nonetheless, he was shaping up to be an easy victory for Rua when they clashed at Pride 31 in 2006, before Rua broke his arm trying to defend a takedown less than a minute into the fight. Coleman got the win and a post-fight melee resulted in some lingering bad blood between the two camps.
Rua, once consider the No. 1 205-pounder in the world, made a lackluster UFC debut in a loss to Griffin in August of last year. Coleman’s last bout was a loss to Fedor Emelianenko in October of 2006. He narrowly escaped certain death when an injury forced him out of a proposed match with Brock Lesnar earlier in this year. Both these guys need a win. Only one (probably Rua) is going to get it.
Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver II
The WEC’s plans to move to PPV with Faber as its golden boy took a hit this month when he lost his featherweight title in a shocker to Mike Brown. In response, matchmakers have gone to a tried-and-true method of getting Faber back on top – they’ve given him a tune-up against a guy he beat less than six months ago.
With their first meeting still a candidate for fight of the year for 2008, the “California Kid” and Pulver meet again to ring in 2009. Pulver suffered a quick knockout at the hands of Leonard Garcia at the same event where Faber lost his title. Their first bout was a great one, so no one is complaining about a return engagement between these two. Except maybe Pulver, and he doesn’t complain about much.
With the coals still warm from the UFC’s most recent “biggest fight of all time,” company president Dana White moved quickly to say GSP vs. Penn, Part Deux will be ever bigger than UFC 91’s megabout between Randy Couture and Lesnar. Call it superfluous. Call it meaningless. Call it whatever you want, but this inter-divisional superfight between the UFC’s welterweight and lightweight champions is going to be a war.
St. Pierre squeaked out a decision when this pair first met at UFC 58 in March of 2006. Ever since, Penn has made it his personal vision quest to get back into the Octagon with the 170-pound French-Canadian. At the expense of his 155-pound belt, we might add. I could go on and on about how Penn’s decision to chase down St. Pierre has put the UFC lightweight division in limbo, but I’ve made a vow to stop complaining about this fight and just to sit back and enjoy it. It’ll be a good one, but my money is on St. Pierre. Again.
Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell IV
No, you’re not imagining things, the UFC really is considering letting these two aging warriors go at it for what seems like the half-dozenth time. With Couture coming off his recent TKO loss to Lesnar and Liddell fresh from his near-decapitation at the hands of Rashad Evans, perhaps the company feels it’s safer (and more marketable) for these two to keep within their own age bracket.
Though their series of bouts has been well-documented, here it is in a nutshell: Couture won the first and then got badly KOed in the next two. This fight will be his chance to swing the balance of power back to even. With Liddell just 1-3 in his last four appearances – and with Evans and Jardine establishing a blueprint of how to beat him – Couture might have a good chance of doing just that. Who knows, maybe then we’ll get to see Couture-Liddell V.
Kevin Burns vs. Anthony Johnson II
Though not that important in the scheme of things, this one registers high on the revenge meter.
In what has to be considered one of the worst decisions in recent memory, Burns was awarded a victory over Johnson in July after Johnson couldn’t continue because Burns kept poking him in the eye. Burns got the win, Johnson had to have surgery. Something tells me he won’t be too happy when these two get back into the cage a couple of weeks from now.
Don’t worry though, if things don’t work out to Johnson’s liking, I’m sure the UFC can put together (another) rematch soon.
Chad Dundas writes a weekly MMA column for CraveOnline. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.