While four of the last five major UFC events do not have a title on the line, the cycle of matchups is about to turn for the UFC. UFC 109 saw a new No. 1 contender emerge in the Middleweight Division thanks to Chael Sonnen's dominance of Nate Marquardt and the rebound of Demian Maia in* his defeat of Dan Miller. Meanwhile, UFC 108 showed us that Rashad Evans is still one of the top Light Heavyweights and that Paul Daley is a force to be reckoned with in the Welterweight division. Here's a look at the next few UFC events and the title implications from each fight.
Atop the UFC 110 fight card is the old guard versus the new guard. Will the undefeated wrestler Cain Velasquez be able to stop the long-time MMA great Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira? The results from UFC 110 will show us the No. 1 contender for the heavyweight belt once both the Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion from UFC 111 faces off with reigning champ Brock Lesnar this summer.
The Michael Bisping vs Wanderlei Silva matchup could provide insight into which of these two fighters, if either of them, will make some noise in the Middleweight division. Meanwhile, Joe Stevenson has a dangerous fight with fast-rising George Sotiropoulos. If Stevenson can get the victory, he will remain a contender in the UFC's crowded Lightweight division, as he eyes another shot at BJ Penn.
UFC 111 on March 27th brings us the first title fight since UFC 107 in December, as Georges St-Pierre defends his Welterweight belt against top contender Dan Hardy. Meanwhile Chane Carwin and Frank Mir will face off with the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship belt on the line, making the UFC 111 fight card a very important one for the future of two UFC weight classes.
Another fight to watch on the UFC 111 card is Jon Fitch versus Thiago Alves. If Fitch prevails again, he should get another title shot. However, Fitch may be the most disrespected fighter in UFC history. A winner of 19 of his past 20 fights, Fitch is 11-1 in 12 UFC fights with wins over Thiago Alves (June 2006), Diego Sanchez, Paulo Thiago, and Mike Pierce. His lone UFC loss came at UFC 87 in August 2008 to Welterweight Champ St-Pierre.
Originally scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort atop the UFC 112 fight card , UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will now face Demian Maia in Abu Dhabi on April 10, 2010. Meanwhile, BJ Penn faces another contender in Frankie Edgar with the UFC Lightweight Belt on the line. With these two fights atop the UFC 112 fight card, it will mark the first event since UFC 100 where two belts (not counting Interim belts) were on the line.
After getting completely hosed by the judges at UFC 104 in October, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will get another shot at UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida atop the UFC 113 fight card on May 8, 2010.
Looking at all of these fights, it is clear that each has major implications on what we will see for the remainder of 2010. While Silva, St-Pierre, and Penn are all heavy favorites in their title fights, an upset in any one of these fights would shake up the division greatly. Most intriguing is how Frank Mir handles Shane Carwin and whether it is an effective strategy if Mir bulks up against his nemesis Lesnar.