Could A New Year Bring New Faces Into the UFC?

A new year brings new possibilities.  Not to mention the fact that the UFC is being intentional in its global international expansion which could mean going hard after some of these very marketable guys.  Could we see these guys in the UFC in 2009?  Their names have been linked to the UFC recently.  Check out the possibilities.

  • Mirko Cro Cop – says he wants a farewell fight in the UFC, probably would be late in 2009.  Click here for more
  • Satoshi Ishii – is in exclusive negotiations with the UFC.  He won’t debut in the UFC, but the UFC will help with his training and development.  The 2008 Olympic Judo gold medalist will be in the UFC in some way barring a failure in his debut.  It is likely that he would be on TUF 10 which may featue heavyweights.
  • Alistair Overeem – Has been linked to negotionations with the UFC and will be at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland. Check it out here.
  • Jeff Monson – He may fight once more in Japan or he may come straight over to the UFC.  I know there was talk about a Monson vs. Kongo match.  He is a great grappler which would be a good add to the heavyweight division and a tough fight for Kongo.
  • Mike Russow – He is rough around the edges but he could be a good prospect
  • Bobby Lashley – His only 1-0 in MMA, but he looked impressive a la Brock Lesnar.  He just signed a 2 fight deal with PFC and if all goes well there we could see Lashley in the UFC by late 2009.  He could have a big impact and be a big crowd draw.  Knock him all you want, but he has potential and he really thinks he could hang with guys like Lesnar already.

Keep an eye on: Dave Herman and Brett Rogers

Light Heavyweights:

  • Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante – He has made it no secret that his ultimate goal is the UFC.  How soon he gets there will depend on the future of ProElite.  It could be 2009.
  • Antwain Britt – I do not know how much thought there is to signing Britt, but he looked good in his TUF 8 fight-on fight.  He was forced off due to injury and has looked good sense.  It may be wise to lock him up.

Keep an eye on: Muhammad Lawal and Robert Drysdale

Middeliweights

  • Robbie Lawler – He is the EliteXC champ.  I would say since he is widely viewed as the number 2 middleweight in the world that he may be offered a good contract in the UFC provided EliteXC dies.
  • Joey Villasenor –  Following the collapse of EliteXC, Villasenor was one who mentioned his desire to fight in the UFC.  The status of ProElite is the barrier here.  He could end up in the UFC, but watch for Bellator and Affliction to make runs at Smokin’ Joe.
  • Yoshihiro Akiyama – Many think he is a top 10 middleweight in the world.  He could come over to the UFC since it was reported he was in negotionations with Sengoku and UFC.  Then is came out that negotionations with Sengoku broke down.  That may be a clue…or it may not
  • David Louiseau – A couple of wins since leaving the UFC and Louiseau finds himself knocking on the UFC door again.  He may be signed for the next Canada card, but he may need one more win.  Nevertheless, look for the former number 1 contender to be given another chance. 

Welterweights

  • Jake Shields – He has made no bones about it that he wants in the UFC and that he wants a fight with Georges St. Pierre.  Right now the UFC is the only place for a welterweight to go to really test themselves.  One more time ProElite is an issue here, but I am confident that eventually Shields will fight in the UFC.
  • Paul Daley – Daley said in a recent interview that he expects to be in the UFC in 2009.  He must clear his contract with ProElite first.  He is a tough English fighter who could be a good add as the UFC looks to expand worldwide.
  • Phil Baroni – He is re-invented at 170 lbs.  In a recent interview with FiveOuncesofPain Baroni said he would like to be in the UFC in 2009.  I think he could get a chance.  He may need one or two more wins though.  Baroni has said he is tired of being a “journeyman” which means he may want to fight for a US based organization.
  • T.J. Grant – He has been called the best Canadian not in a major organization.  I look for the UFC to snatch him up.  The UFc wants to push in Canada and Grant is a good prospect.  He may be signed sooner than later as the UFC will be in Canada several times in 2009.

Lightweight

  • Gilbert Melendez- He has one more fight left with Strikeforce, which should come by March.  Then I look for him to hit the free agent market.  His next fight could determine his value.  A win could make him worthwhile.  He has mentioned the UFC in several interviews as a possible home.

The UFC addes several prospects in 2008.  Look for more guys to burst onto the scene in 2009.  Some have already been signed and will make their debut in 2009 such as Denis Kang, Ronnys Torrys, Stefan Struve, Neil Grove, John Howard, etc. 

I look for about half these guys to sign in the UFC and I expect some surprises which could be dictated by the futures of Affliction and ProElite as well as the quality of TUF competitors.

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Bobby Lashley Wins in Debut

Bobby Lashley needed 41 seconds to win his debut MMA fight.   He looked to be the real deal against Joshua Frankin.  He has expressed his desire to fight for Zuffa, and I have to think that following last night’s perfomrance he may be on the radar of some big name promotions, especially seeing the success and draw of Brock Lesnar. 

At the same event Jeff Monson defeated Ricco Rodriguez by unanimous decision

This Week In MMA

 ·         UFC Fight Night 16: Fight For the Troops – Wednesday, December 10th

This event is a special bonus for fight fans.  Also, it is a stand up gesture by the UFC.  Say what you want about Dana White and the UFC, but no other fight organizations show the benevolence that the UFC does.  The goal of these fights is to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen heroes Fund.  Click here to find out more or to make donations.  Not only is it a good cause, but there are several good fights.  We will see stars such as Josh Ksocheck, Mike Swick, Matt Wiman, Jim Miller, WEC champ Steve Cantwell, and Luigi Fiorvanti.  Tune in to SPIKE on Wednesday Night to watch this event. 

o   Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

o   Mike Swick vs. Jonathan Goulet

o   Matt Wiman vs. Jim Miller

o   Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan

o   Liugi Fioravanti vs. Brodie Farber

o   Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur

o   Steve Bruno vs. Johnny Rees

o   Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully

o   Ben Saunders vs. Brandon Wolff

o   Corey Hill vs. Dale Hartt

·         Adrenaline MMA 2 – Thursday, December 11

Some good fights on tap here.  The biggest enw may be the return of legend, Pat Miletich against Thomas Denny.  Also in action will be former IFL Heavyweight champ Ben Rothwell, rising Heavyweight star Mike Russow and several other notable fighters. 

o   Pat Miletich vs. Thomas Denny

o   Ben Rothwell vs. Chris Guillen

o   Mike Russow vs. Branden Bice

o   LC Davis vs. Billy Kidd

o   Mike Ciesnolevicz vs. Derrick Mehmen

o   Gabe Lemley vs. Dan Loman

o   Ryan McGivern vs. Geno Roderick

o   Pat Curran vs. Ramiro “Junior” Hernandez

o   Jesse Lennox vs. Ryan Williams

·         Mixed Fighting Alliance – Saturday, December 13

This boasts a solid main event between two heavyweight legends in Monson and Rodriquez.  The big news will be the debut of WWE star Bobby Lashley.  The question will be can he do what Lesnar has done? 

o   Jeff Monson vs. Ricco Rodriquez

o   Bobby Lashley vs. Joshua Franklin

o   Ariel Grandulla vs. David Baggett

·         The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale – Saturday, December 13th                   

I do not know of another TUF finale that I have been so excited about.  This season has all the 16 cast members fighting on this card.  Two exciting finals and two exciting bouts of non TUF cast members in Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia and a re-match between Kevin Burns and Anthony Johnson.

o   Ryan Bader vs. Vinny Magalhes

o   Phillipe Nover vs. Efrain Escudero

o   Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia

o   Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns

o   Junie Allen Browning vs. Dave Kaplan

o   Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Shane Primm

o   Eliot Marshall vs. Jules Bruchez

o   Kyle Kingsbury vs. Tom Lawlor

o   Shane Nelson vs. George Roop

o   Rolando Delgado vs. John Polakowski