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The UFC Goes Back to Back to Back This Weekend

Friday, December 11, 2015

 

When I saw my first UFC card, I was fourteen years old; it was UFC 10 in July of 1996. Back then it seemed like you’d almost have to luck into seeing an event. Advertisements were few and in most cases parents weren’t letting their children watch the evolving sport. If you were lucky enough to see a pay-per-view, you’d savor the experience since you had no idea when the next card would come. Three months? Six months? No one knew. Fast-forward about twenty years and it seems like there are fight cards nearly every weekend and this weekend is no exception. In fact, this weekend is even starting early. Thursday night, the UFC will begin a stretch of events that run straight through Saturday night. Sounds crazy, I know. But you know what? The cards they have put together feature some of the best fights to take place in the UFC in a number of years. There is even the potential for a handful of these fights to be instant classics. Let’s take a look at the weekend ahead and get you ready for the onslaught of amazing fights that is coming your way.

Thursday: UFC Fight Night 80: VanZant vs. Namajunas

Thursday’s card is a UFC FightPass event but don’t let that scare you away. Get online and get that free trial set up so you don’t miss out. This card is really a showcase event for some of the top up and coming talent inside the UFC. When people ask UFC president Dana White whom he sees as the future of the UFC, two names seem to keep coming up, Paige VanZant and Sage Northcut. VanZant is just 21 years old but has shown great maturity in the cage. She continues to defeat her opponents rather handily and seems to be on track to earn a title shot in 2016. Her matchup with Rose Namajunas will be her stiffest test to date and some actually consider Namajunas the favorite (myself included). Northcut on the other hand is still an unknown commodity. While his UFC debut was successful, violent, and incredibly exciting we still don’t know what we are going to get from the ultra athletic 19-year-old prodigy. These two clean-cut youngsters will certainly get many tuning into this broadcast but they aren’t the only reason to watch. This card boasts a co-main event worthy of any UFC pay-per-view, as Michael Chiesa will be squaring off against Jim Miller. Both of these fighters are submission experts who love to finish fights. With both coming off of wins the momentum leading them into this fight should make this clash epic.

*Fighters To Watch: Paige VanZant, Rose Namajunas, Sage Northcut, Elias Theodorou, Aljamain Sterling, Kailin Curran

Friday: The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale: Edgar vs. Mendes

Friday’s card takes place live and free on Fox Sports 1. No reason not to enjoy the action here. This card has some fights that could easily steal the show for the entire three-day stretch. The main event features two guys who seem to always be in title contention, Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes. The former Champ, Edgar who at one point fought in seven straight title fights is on a win streak that cannot be ignored. He has won four straight and has been vocal about his desire to fight for a title. His speed, power and ability to change levels have been a problem for almost everyone he has faced. In Mendes, Edgar will be facing a fighter with a very similar skill set, maybe a touch slower but certainly very powerful. Mendes is coming off a disappointing loss to Conor McGregor and a win over the streaking Edgar would immediately put him back into the title picture. That fight is going to be awesome, but if that fight is awesome the matchup between Joe Lauzon and Evan Dunham is otherworldly. Simply put these two guys want nothing more than to win Fight-of-The-Night every time they step into the cage. Wins and losses are secondary to putting on a show for the fans. Lauzon and Dunham have been in the hunt for the 155 lb title in the past but the title ultimately eluded them. Today they are veterans who can make or save any card you put them on.

*Fighters To Watch:  Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Joe Lauzon, Evan Dunham, Tony Ferguson, Mike Pierce, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Geane Herrera    

UFC 194: Aldo vs. McGregor

Saturday night caps off three straight days of fights that will most certainly bring fight fans to their limit in terms of content. Hopefully you aren’t hitting overload come Saturday as this card is a can’t miss affair. After waiting over a year for it to happen Jose Aldo will finally be facing off against the notorious one, Conor McGregor. It seemed like this fight would never happen and now that it’s finally here I still find that I am holding my breath. This fight has the potential to be one for the history books. Pay-per-view numbers should be through the roof, ticket sales won’t be lacking, and people will be talking about it for weeks. The exciting thing is, that’s not even the only title fight on the card. The co-main event is a matchup that has odds makers on edge as Middleweight champion; Chris Weidman takes on Luke Rockhold. Rockhold is a slight underdog in this fight but the action in Vegas has already seen the betting line move closer and closer to even. Weidman is the undefeated champion for a reason but his skill set has yet to be tested by an athlete the caliber of Rockhold. Rockhold is a massive middleweight and not only does he posses extremely accurate and powerful striking he has a submission game that has left even top jiu jitsu practitioners impressed. His ability to finish on the ground is a huge advantage that he will likely look to exploit. Many assume Weidman has the advantage in the wrestling department so it will be interesting to see what happens if he can’t get the fight to the ground. Beyond these two title fights this card also boasts a likely title eliminator between Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero.

*Fighters To Watch: Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor, Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero, Max Holloway, Kevin Lee    

The Pacific Northwest is represented well over these three days. Evan Dunham, Michael Chiesa, Mike Pierce, and Page VanZant are all Pacific Northwest Natives. In total we are looking at close to thirty fights and for the first time in a long time I dare say close to eighty percent of those fights are going to be worth tuning in for. If my opinion doesn’t sway your judgment how about this, between the 64 combatants scheduled to fight this weekend they share a total of 100 fight night bonuses. Yes, 100 bonuses. Knock outs, submissions, fights of the night, all that jazz. Are you ready for a weekend full of amazing fights? I know I am.  

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films. 

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#12 Rollerball

Some of the non-athletic scenes in this dystopian classic show their age, but Rollerball is a strangely prescient film that anticipated both the corporatization of sport and fans’ limitless taste for violence. Bonus points for the ominous intro music.

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#11 A League of Their Own

A comedy that looks back to the antithesis of corporate sport – a women’s baseball league during World War II with many memorable lines to choose from (e.g.,”There’s no crying in baseball.”)

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#10 Remember The Titans

Yes, filmmakers took liberties with some of the facts dealing with the integration of a high school football team in Virginia. But there’s a reason football teams often screen this film on the eve of big games. It’s a damn inspirational tale.

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#9 The Natural

This film has grown on me over time. Originally, it seemed slow and schmaltzy. Now, it seems well-paced and charming. Then and now, the re-created scenes of pre-World War II ballparks arrive like perfectly preserved postcards from the past.  

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#8 The Longest Yard

Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.  

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#7 Slap Shot

The Hanson brothers. Enough said.

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#6 Rocky

Often imitated, but never replicated. The definitive underdog boxing story featuring Sylvester Stallone before he became a self-caricature in multiple sequels. Impossible to hear the theme song without being motivated to get off the couch.

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#5 Seabiscuit

A fantastic book as well as a great movie. Like “The Natural,” Seabiscuit captures its Depression-era setting for modern-day viewers taken back to an era when horse racing actually meant something in America. 

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#4 Requiem for a Heavywei

A too often-forgotten film these days but a wonderful boxing drama that shows the sport’s underside with memorable  performances by Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

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#3 Hoosiers

Want to know something about small-town America in the 1950s and about Indiana basketball? This hoops movie does all of that with a healthy dose of redemption throughout. 

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#2 Bull Durham

There’s a pretty good case to be made this movie played a huge part in the rebirth and re-marketing of minor league baseball. As written by former minor leaguer Ron Shelton, there are many great scenes to choose from but this one is a favorite. 

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#1 Raging Bull

A rags-to-riches-to-rags story of boxer Jake LaMotta meets the actor born to play him, Robert De Niro. Not a false moment in this black-and-white powerhouse.

 
 

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