In addition to the title tilt, there's a big clash of featherweights as Urijah Faber makes his much-hyped return to the cage against Rafael Assuncao. Assuncao (apologies for the lack of ASCII love) sports a 14-1 record with his only loss a decision to Jeff Curran. Faber's first fight in seven months comes after he was injured in the second of two losses to Mike Brown. The winner here will likely get a chance to try and stop the buzzsaw that is Jose Aldo in Aldo's first title defense.
Speaking of Brown, you have to feel sorry for Anthony Morrison, who will be making his WEC debut against MTB. Brown will attempt to start a new winning streak after having his ten-match run broken against Aldo in November. Other fights feature a battle of unbeaten lightweights as Dave Jansen takes on Kamal Shalorus, and Mackens Semerzier versus Deividas Taurosevicius (also ASCII-deficient) in the most unspellable matchup of the year.
Strikeforce: It's a very Diaz month for MMA; it's Nick Diaz headlining right now for Strikeforce: Miami on January 30th (live on Showtime). He'll be on a card that's relatively light on talent, but high on intrigue. Diaz is up against Marius Zaromskis for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title; that is, assuming he shows up for the pre-fight routine. I wrote about Diaz's prior flakiness back in August. Let's hope he's pulled it together in the time in between.
Most of the talent is provided from the distaff side, as Cris "Cyborg" Santos will be defending her Women's Title against a very game Marloes Coenen. Cyborg is of course coming off a dominant showing against Gina Carano, but Coenen also looked good in her last fight against tough opposition in Roxanne Modafferi. The intrigue comes from the big but untested names on the card. Heisman Trophy winner and NFL standout Herschel Walker will make his MMA debut (at the frisky age of 47) against an opponent to be named later. In addition, former ECW champion (that's pro wrestling, people) Bobby Lashley will try to improve on a 4-0 record in MMA with his Strikeforce debut against 9-0 Shane Del Rosario.
Inactive Promotions: DREAM and World Victory Road (Sengoku), following their New Year's Eve joint show, have nothing announced for January. (That should give Shinya Aoki time to develop a little class.) Bellator returns in April.