Welcome fight fans to round one of the first-ever Bleacher Report Fantasy MMA Open Weight Grand Prix, where your votes will decide who truly is MMA?s ?Pound for Pound? king.
Before we get started, I would to thank Jessy Morris for allowing me to adapt his ?UFC Fantasy Tournament? idea.
I have chosen 32 fighters from across the MMA landscape to participate. You will notice some obvious omissions such as Brock Lesanr, Frank Mir, and Jose Aldo. The reason that I chose not to include them in this Grand Prix is simple: size matters.
All three are terrific fighters but I believe that their size alone would play too big a role in the outcome of their matches. So, for the purpose of this Grand Prix I only selected fighters in the 155lb to 250lb range.
As far as format in concerned, I gave the bracket a bit of a March Madness feel. The 32 fighters are broken down into four regions: Brazil, Japan, U.S., and Canada.
Now that you get the idea, let?s get down to business.
Anderson Silva, UFC MW (1) vs. Muhammed Lawal, Strikeforce LHW (8)
It?s been said many times that Anderson Silva?s biggest weakness is his wrestling and that an elite wrestler would have the best chance at taking him out. King Mo Lawal is the embodiment of elite wrestling. Could he use that base to score a major upset?
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, UFC HW (4) vs. Junior Dos Santos, UFC HW (5)
Nogueira?s once legendary chin has suddenly turned to glass. Having lost two of his last three by stoppage, could Big Nog handle the fire power his young apprentice brings to the table?
Cain Velasquez, UFC HW (3) vs. Randy Couture, UFC LHW (6)
Velasquez put the MMA community on notice after his impressive first round KO victory over Big Nog at UFC 110. Could lighting strike twice against another MMA legend?
Lyoto Machida, UFC LHW (2) vs. Jeff Monson, Independent HW (7)
Jeff Monson may be far from being one of the best heavyweights in the game today, but his grappling credentials alone make him a dangerous foe. How would the counter striking Machida fare against such a powerful and imposing grappler?
Fedor Emelianenko, Strikeforce HW (1) vs. Rich Franklin, UFC LHW (8)
Fedor is possibly the greatest fighter MMA has seen in its young history. That said, many are questioning his current place in the sport. Rich Franklin is no slouch by any means.
Can Fedor continue his dominate reign over the sport?
Jon Fitch, UFC WW (4) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, UFC LHW (5)
Fitch is widely regarded as the second best welterweight in the world. How would his grinding and methodical style fare against the always dangerous Little Nog?
Shinya Aoki, DREAM LW (3) vs. Ronaldo Souza, Strikeforce MW (6)
If you are a fan of high level grappling, then this matchup is for you.
Mauricio Rua, UFC LHW (2) vs. Thiago Silva, UFC LHW (7)
Once regarded as the best light-heavyweight in the world, "Shogun" Rua has taken a few steps back since his transition into the UFC until his razor thin decision loss against Lyoto Machida at UFC 104. Now he is back to looking like the Shogun of old.
How would he do against Thiago Silva, who in many ways mirrors his aggressive style?
BJ Penn, UFC LW (1) vs. Dan Hardy, UFC WW (8)
Without question, the Prodigy, BJ Penn, will go down as one of the greatest fighters in the history of MMA and his dominance over the lightweight division is the stuff of legend.
But, how would be handle the larger and well rounded Dan Hardy?
Rashad Evans, UFC LHW (4) vs. Josh Koscheck, UFC WW (5)
What happens when two dominate wrestlers with explosive KO power cross paths?
Jake Shields, Strikeforce MW (3) vs. Vitor Belfort, UFC MW (6)
Jake Shields may not be the most exciting fighter in the world, but he gets the job done. How would his grinding style fare against the explosive and lightning fast hands of Vitor Belfort?
Dan Henderson, Strikeforce MW (2) vs. Nate Marquardt, UFC MW (7)
We all saw what happened the last time Marquardt took on an Olympic-level wrestler but Hendo doesn?t really rely too heavily on that part of his game.
Would Hendo continue the love affair with his striking against Marquardt?
Georges St. Pierre, UFC WW (1) vs. Gray Maynard, UFC LW (8)
Arguably the best functional wrestling in MMA today, GSP has been on a tear since losing his welterweight crown from Matt Serra at UFC 69.
Would former All-American wrestler Gray Maynard be able to stop GSP in his tracks?
Quinton Jackson, UFC LHW (4) vs. Thiago Alves, UFC WW (5)
Thiago Alves may fight in the welterweight division but the guy is an absolute monster and has been known to walk around well over the 200lb mark. Would his vicious Muay Thai be enough to outclass the heavy hitting Rampage?
Nick Diaz, Strikeforce WW (3) vs. Jon Jones, UFC LHW (6)
Nick Diaz could honestly be the most underappreciated fighter in MMA today. But, could the supremely talented Gracie black belt handle the fastest rising star in all of MMA, Jon Jones?
Gegard Mousasi, Strikeforce LHW (2) vs. Chael Sonnen, UFC MW (7)
If you still don?t know who Gegard Mousasi is, please hit yourself in the face now. The Dutch Armenian kickboxer and striking coach to Fedor is simply a beast.
How would he fare against the always game wrestling powerhouse, Chael Sonnen?
Please be sure to vote for your winners at the bottom. I will tabulate the votes and roll round two of the Grand Prix out sometime next week.