If you're a mixed martial arts fan, you're probably sick of that headline. You're sick of hearing how Lorenzo J. Fertitta and Frank J. Fertitta have purchased PrideFC from it's former Dream Stage Entertainment owners and ousted former CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara. You want to hear more about what is possible the largest month in Mixed Martial Arts history, April 2007.
There are four shows worth mentioning in April, in addition to season 5 of "The Ultimate Fighter". These shows are:
April 5, 2007 – Ultimate Fight Night 9
This show features a bout between Joe Stevenson and Melvin Guillard. These two 155 pound fighters are at the cusp of becoming superstars in the UFC lightweight division. A win in this bout, then perhaps one more and one of these guys might be ready for a title shot. There is also another interesting match on this card, featuring the return of Kenny Florian after his beat down, courtesy of UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk. Kenny Florian is facing Dokonjonosuke Mishima.
April 7, 2007 – UFC 69: Shootout
Everybody is waiting to see what Georges St Pierre has in store for Matt "The Terror" Serra. St Pierre completely dominated Matt Hughes in his last outing, learning him the UFC welterweight belt. Serra on the other hand, barely squeaked by Chris Lytle to get the season 4 "Ultimate Fighter" title at 170. This could be an interesting match, but most expect another St Pierre blow out.
The most interesting match of UFC 69 will put Diego Sanchez 'undefeated record on the line against super-wrestler Josh Koscheck. These guys have met before, but Josh was a pure wrestler at that point, he's had a couple of years of MMA experience now, let's see who's better now. Other big names on that card include Mike Swick, Kendall Grove, Heath Herring, Brad Imes and expect a great match between Josh "I never quit" Haynes and Luke Cummo.
April 8, 2007 – Pride 34 Kamikaze
This event is not nearly as interesting as it could be. The main thing that does make it interesting is the 10th anniversary and resignation of Sakakibara, all in the same show. Expect and emotional show with a lot of "Pride Past" clips. If you're not a Pride fan, you soon will be, watching this show would be excellent research into what the Pride Fighters bring to the table. Unfortunately it's being shown live at 3:00 am my time, bring on the coffee! The feature bout will be Sokoudjou vs Arona. Sokoudjou KO's little Nog in his last outing and Arona is a perennial contender. Perhaps he has the most to win by the UFC owners purchasing pride. His solid ground game could be trouble for a lot of the UFC's current 205 pound division.
Pride is also featuring a freak show match between Butterbean and Zulu, personally, I'm not interested.
April 21, 2007 UFC 70: Nations Collide
Finally, the show which will determine the future of the UFC heavyweight division. Mirko Cro Cop vs Gabriel Gonzaga will determine who meets Randy Couture for the title. Look for Cro Cop to dominate this one, but as always in MMA, never count any fighter out of any fight. There are a number of other interesting names on this card. Look for Michael Bisping "Ultimate Fighter" season 4 winner facing Elvis Sinosic in a match, seemingly designed to set up Bisping for a future title shot. Andrei Arlovski will face Fabricio Werdum which could end up being the fight of the night. Cheick Kongo will try to redeem himself after a decision loss when he faces Assuerio Silva. Let's hope Cheick comes out swinging.
That's it, a great month of great fights, and I barely even mentioned the big UFC – Pride purchase. For those of you sick of the UFC – Pride headlines, you'd better get used to it, it's here to stay and will remain the big story in MMA for months.
Take it easy and enjoy the fights!