MMA Year Set to Go Out With a Bang in December
UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2
If the world really is set to end on Dec. 21, then MMA fans will certainly be upset as they will miss out on the UFC’s annual end-of-year bash, which this year is set to be UFC 155 in Las Vegas on Dec. 29.
But let’s just pretend that we all wake up on Dec. 22, well then we’re in for a treat: UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 will feature a heavyweight title rematch between champion Junior Dos Santos (pictured) and Cain Velasquez. Dos Santos became the unofficial king of the world when he knocked out Velasquez on the UFC’s network TV debut last year, and Velasquez is hell bent on revenge.
UFC 155 also features a scrumptious light heavyweight bout between former champion Forrest Griffin and Phil Davis. It could be the beginning of a title run for Davis, and it could be the end of a career for Griffin, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’ll actually be both. If you’re looking for some extra post-Christmas cash, then putting a parlay bet on both things happening wouldn’t be a bad way to go. That card will be rounded out by a matchup of middleweight contenders Constantinos Philippou and Tim Boetsch, as well as a potential lightweight barnburner between Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller.
But if you’re not one to shill out 60 bucks for a UFC pay-per-view, then the December plate of MMA also features plenty of free fights. In addition to three UFC offerings on either network TV or basic cable, we’ll also have two Bellator events on MTV 2, three editions of AXS TV Fights, and the annual Japan New Year’s Eve event.
Check out the slideshow to see the December slate of MMA events, and follow me on Twitter @MMAMcKinney to discuss this and other MMA-related topics.
UFC on FOX 5
The UFC returns to network TV on Dec. 8 with UFC on FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz, where the lightweight title will be on the line as top contender Nate Diaz challenges 155-pound champion Benson Henderson. Known as two of the most exciting fighters on the UFC roster, that fight has the potential to be a late addition to the Fight of the Year discussion.
Rising prospect Alexander Gustafsson will also take on former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a light heavyweight bout, and welterweight prospect Rory MacDonald will square off with former lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn.
UFC on FX 6
Less than a week later, the UFC returns to Australia with UFC on FX 6: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson. The event features both the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: UK vs. Australia, as well as a matchup between coaches George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson (pictured).
The card, which takes place in GoldCoast, Australia, also features a middleweight matchup between Hector Lombard and Rousimar Palhares.
The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale
The next night, the finale of the American version of the show will take place as The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale goes down in Las Vegas. Coach Roy Nelson (pictured) will take on injury replacement Matt Mitrione (who fills in for Shane Carwin), and the TUF 16 champ will also be decided in the lightweight division.
Other notable bouts on the card include heavyweights Pat Barry vs. Shane Del Rosario and lightweights Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner.
No. 2 promotion Bellator will close out its seventh season on MTV 2, as Bellator 83 takes place on Dec. 7 in Atlantic City and Bellator 84 will go down on Dec. 14 in the Chicago area. The finals of the featherweight, lightweight, and heavyweight divisions will go down, as well as a light heavyweight title bout between champion Christian M’Pumbu and Attila Vegh.
The "Vote for the Fight" campaign will also wind down, as fans will get to decide the first main event for Bellator's debut on Spike TV in January, as Bellator 85 will feature the semifinals of the Season 8 Welterweight Tournament. Fans can vote between Paul Daley (picture), Ben Saunders, Douglas Lima, and War Machine to be involved in the first main event.
MMA leader AXS TV will also broadcast three events in December, including BAMMA 11 on Dec. 1, XFC 21 on Dec. 7, and Legacy FC 16 on Dec. 14. Also, Japanese MMA will return on New Year’s Eve as DREAM.18 will take place. A U.S. broadcast partner is still being sought, but it could also be on AXS TV.
Leading British promotion BAMMA returns with a stacked lineup on Dec. 1, including a main event between top middleweight prospect Jack Marshman and UFC veteran Xavier Foupa-Pokam. The organization's lightweight and welterweight titles will also be on the line.
The Florida-based XFC promotion returns to Nashville, Tennesse a week later, as "Night of Champions" will feature a lightweight title headliner between one-arm fighter Nick Newell and Eric Reynolds. The card also features UFC veterans Corey Hill and Ryan Thomas squaring off in the co-headliner.
Texas-based promotion Legacy FC will hold its 16th event on Dec. 14, as WEC veteran Will Campuzano battles Jimmy Flick for the inaugural flyweight title. WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos will also be on the card.
Japanese MMA returns on New Year's Eve, as DREAM.18 takes place in the Saitama Super Arena. Featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya (pictured) will defend his title, and the card also features Japanese veterans Satoru Kitaoka and Tatsuya Kawajiri.