As professional boxing continues to be operated under the eldery liver-spotted fist, the UFC's business has rapidly risen. It thrives under the notion that great match ups will make us watch. With another successful year in the books for the UFC, we look ahead to the top five fights we'd like to see in 2013.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
GSP is back. After earning another "Fight of the Night" bonus for his successful title defense against Carlos Condit in November, the contenders for the welterweight title are coming out like clock work. Permitting he defeats Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in March, GSP has an even greater challenge ahead of him in the form of KO artist Johny Hendricks.
"Bigg Rigg" has been on a tear of late — knocking out the likes of longtime contenders Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch. On this alone, Hendricks should be granted a title shot. He also imposes the most difficult test for GSP at the moment. Aside from being a southpaw with a pulverizing straight left, Hendricks is a two-time NCAA Division I wresting champion. This makes the match up even more intriguing. Hendricks is what I like to call Josh Koscheck 2.0 – devastating power mixed with unstoppable wrestling. He will be GSP's most dangerous opponent if this fight is made.
Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson
I know what you're thinking. "Hendo is old and small. 'Bones' would throw them 'bows and merc him brah!". I, for one, don't think so.
After a successful stint in StrikeForce (that included a stunning KO of MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko), Henderson returned to the UFC in late 2011. Henderson came back in dramatic fashion when he defeated Shogun Rua in an absolute war, setting up a bout with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones. The fight was scheduled for September's UFC 151 but Henderson was forced to withdraw due to injury. As of now, Henderson is set to take on former champ Lyoto Machida in February, but a matchup with Jones is still just too good to pass up.
Henderson's vicious right hand is arguably the most dangerous weapon in all of MMA until you take a peak at Jones' ferocious elbows. Both men come from wrestling pedigrees which allows them to be extremely dangerous in the clinch. Jones possesses the freakish length but Henderson has the granite chin. Henderson has the experience but Jones is the future. Stylistically it's a slobber knocker on paper. In reality we have to wait and see if this fight ever materializes.
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Don't put lightweight champ Benson Henderson into the UFC Hall Of Fame just yet. There is one man he needs to face in the UFC — even though he's already lost to him in the now absorbed WEC — Anothony Pettis.
Pettis defeated Henderson for the WEC lightweight title back in December 2010 in one of the most memorable fights of the long gone promotion. Promised a title shot against the winner of Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard, "Showtime" was set for stardom in 2011 as he entered the UFC but a combination of bad luck and injuries forced those plans to the way side. Pettis is now set to face Donald Cerrone on Jan. 26 as a rematch with Henderson looms.
A victory for Pettis should guarantee him a title shot. Expectations for the rematch would be at an all time high as both men have evolved since the last time they've faced one another. Pettis' kicks have become even more lethal since he's entered the UFC. Just ask Joe Lauzon.
As far as the champion goes, Henderson has become a master of executing game plans. Henderson systemically destroyed Nate Diaz during their title fight in December proving that he is the premier fighter in the 155 division.
These two are on a familiar collision course that is sure to produce some of the best action we'll witness in 2013.
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
The greatest fighter of all time has nothing left to prove.
After defeating Chael Sonnen in July, Anderson Silva continued to captivate us in 2012. When he destroyed Stephan Bonnar a few months later, Silva began to campaign for a super fight between him and Georges St. Pierre. However after initially sounding positive about the match up, GSP talked the fight down and ultimately opted to fight Nick Diaz instead – a wise decision. GSP would have a huge disadvantage in sheer mass against Silva in what is an overmatched fight. Rumblings of a match up between Silva and brash Englishman Michael Bisping have been floating around, but who really wants to see that? Enter: Chris Weidman.
Mark Munoz was thought to be the safe pick as Silva's next middleweight challenger until a Weidman elbow sent shockwaves through the MMA world. Weidman in some ways is the "Anti-Spider". His technique is a witches' brew of precise counter striking, NCAA Division I wrestling, explosive athleticism and a purple belt in BJJ. We've seen Silva have problems with men who have serious wrestling skills and this is just one of the many tools Weidman has put on display. The scariest part is he hasn't even scratched the surface yet.
Is he the second coming of Jon Jones? Maybe. Is he more formidable of an opponent for Silva than Bisping? Definitely. Is this fight lucrative enough for Silva to accept?
Cain Velasquez vs. Alistair Overeem
This possible showdown is the single reason why the UFC has trumped boxing, particularly in America. Heavyweights who are the best at what they do.
Cain Velasquez avenged his lone loss in December when he dethroned Junior Dos Santos and became the UFC heavyweight champ for the second time. Minutes after his victory Cain was already bombarded with questions about a possible match with K-1 World Grand Prix Champion Alistair Overeem, and rightfully so.
This is like Godzilla versus King Kong. Overeem dismantled Brock Lesnar in his UFC debut and was set to face Dos Santos for the title in May until it was revealed that he failed his pre-fight drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. After being suspended for nine months, Overeem recently had his name cleared after months of vigorous testing and observation by the NSAC.
He is now set to face Antonio Silva and UFC President Dana White has already stated that if Overeem defeats Silva he will be next inline for shot against Velasquez. Overeem is the most decorated striker amongst the world's heavyweights but Velasquez is undeniably the best heavyweight mixed martial artist in the world.
This fight has to happen. Both men look to be in the primes of their respective careers and it is the best possible matchup in the heavyweight division at the moment. "Uberknees" vs. "Brown Pride"..the future can't come soon enough.
Photo Credit: Getty