Card By Card is our monthly look at the upcoming 30, 31, or very rarely 28 days in the MMA world.
August saw an end to the beautiful (tolerable) summer weather that we here on the East Coast had been fortunate to enjoy (when we weren’t kayaking in the streets). August was hot, humid, disgusting. We, the bright MMA fans of the world, had a break though: we could stay indoors, sip lemonade, and be privy to one of the wildest months in MMA history.
The Affliction card that was supposed to start the month? Cancelled, along with the future of the promotion. The resulting aftermath saw Fedor sign a megadeal with Strikeforce. In the ring, Cyborg unprettied Carano, Anderson made Forrest run, Torres got stunned, and Minotauro and Couture showed that they’re not quite ready to pick up their MMAARP cards. Plus, Tito Ortiz got comped tickets to a UFC show for the first time in a while!
How can September hope to top that? The short answer is: it can’t. While schoolchildren (and idiot grad students, like myself) return to the classroom, the cages of the world will be mostly quiet, gearing up for a much larger October rush. While the schedule is mostly devoid of huge names, there are plenty of free fights available for you to get your scout on, looking for the next big star.
UFC is packing the vast majority of their September events into a four day stretch. Things get started on Wednesday the 16th with Fight Night 19 in Oklahoma, continue that night with the premiere of Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, and finish on the 19th with UFC 103: Franklin vs. Belfort in Dallas.
Fight Night is a nice little bonus card this month. It’s hard to do anything major just days before a big PPV show, but it’s good that the UFC love is extended across the panhandle into Oklahoma. The headliner, Nate Diaz against Melvin Guillard, isn’t going to take anybody’s breath away, but live fights are live fights. I’m actually more interested by the Gray Maynard/Roger Huerta fight. Maynard’s undefeated and Huerta, returning to the cage after a year off, has gone from UFC golden boy and SI cover star to wannabe actor; this is the last fight on his contract. A decisive finish for Maynard could be what his UFC career needs in a relatively open lightweight division.
I’m still a sucker for The Ultimate Fighter (mostly because my TiVo is filled with my girlfriend’s crap reality shows these days and I need balance on my consumer electronics), but I’m aware not everybody is. And the last couple seasons were relatively weak. Nonetheless, this could be the most interesting season in a while. There are a few interesting fighters on the roster, including former IFL champ Roy Nelson and ex-Buccaneers DE Marcus Jones. The verbal sparring between Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans (which may yet produce some black on black crime) should be fun to watch. Oh, and there’s another well-known heavyweight competing… who am I forgetting here? I feel like I’ve seen him on YouTube, or CBS, or a Nike commercial… or somewhere. Eh, it’ll come back to me.
In a perfect world for UFC, Kimbo Slice will be the last fighter to fight on TUF so they could stretch out the drama as long as possible; if I’m Dana White, I’m making sure Rashad and Rampage don’t send him out there until the bitter end. Of course, if I’m a legitimate coach, I call him out first and send out my best fighter against him; but this is reality TV, not reality itself. Don’t expect Slice to catch a match for a while.