April 2017 is here. It is time to look ahead to the best five fights the month has to offer in the world of MMA:
This rematch between the division’s top two fighters (in the long absence of Jon Jones, of course) was supposed to occur back in November at UFC 206. An injury, however, required Cormier to pull out of the fight. This is one of those matchups that on paper, should be easy to predict. We all saw Cormier eat one of Johnson’s big right hands in the first bout and managed to come back, wear Johnson out and choke him out. But, not many men can eat one of those big punches from Johnson like that. Who is to say if lightning strikes twice that Cormier will be able to get up next time. Conversely, Johnson has been improving his ground game under the tutelage of Neil Melanson which might help him against Cormier’s wrestling-heavy game. Dana White has already mentioned that whoever wins this bout will likely face Jon Jones after his suspension is up in July.
Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman is on a two-fight losing skid, not having won a fight since 2015. He will be fighting a high-stakes fight against perennial top 10 contender, Gegard Mousasi. A loss here for Weidman would put a real damper on his chances of returning back to the top of the division. While for Mousasi, on the other hand, a win would put him right up there as a prime candidate for the next title shot. Mousasi has been on a tear lately, having won his last four fights in a row. It will be interesting to see Mousasi’s striking paired against Weidman’s quick single leg takedowns out in space.
3. Ronaldo Souza vs. Robert Whittaker, UFC on Fox 24
Jacare Souza is in a tough spot. In an alternate universe where there was no GSP coming back to fight Michael Bisping, he would have most likely already been booked to fight for the title. Instead of waiting around, he accepted a fight against another top 10 middleweight, Robert Whittaker. Whittaker is on a 6-fight winning streak, with increasing challenges along the way. Jacare, however, will likely be his toughest challenge to date, especially if the fight goes to the ground.
4. Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson, UFC on Fox 24
This is a key matchup that will most likely determine the next title contender for the UFC strawweight title once Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade settle the title picture at UFC 211 in May. Waterson is on a two-fight win streak in the UFC after a very successful run in the Invicta atomweight division. Namajunas is 3-2 in the UFC so far, with the only losses coming to Carla Esparza for the inaugural title fight and just recently to Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who in turn lost in her title fight to Jedrzejczyk. Stylistically, this will be a fun fight. With both fighters employing diverse kicking games and can find unique scrambles in grappling situations.
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has been at the top of the flyweight mountain for so long that almost any challenger that steps up is an instant long shot. In his last outing, though, Tim Elliott showed that he is not completely invulnerable, especially with his back to the mat. Wilson Reis comes into this challenge with a strength in high-level Jiu Jitsu that aligns with that strategy. What he does not have is Tim Elliott’s size. It will be intriguing to see if Reis can pull off a huge upset or if Johnson will tie Anderson Silva’s 10 title defense record with a win.
Will Brooks vs. Charles Oliveira, UFC 210
Tim Elliott vs. Louis Smolka, UFC on Fox 24
Joe Lauzon vs. Stevie Ray, UFC Fight Night 108
Al Iaquinta vs. Diego Sanchez, UFC Fight Night 108
John Dodson vs. Eddie Wineland, UFC Fight Night 108
Rafael Carvalho vs. Melvin Manhoef, Bellator 176
Eduardo Dantas vs. Leandro Higo, Bellator 177
Daniel Straus vs. Patricio Pitbull, Bellator 178
Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Perry, UFC Fight Night 108
Alexis Davis vs. Cindy Dandois, UFC Fight Night 108