Now that 2011 is already halfway through, multiple websites and even the UFC have released their fair share of “Best of the Half-Year” awards. I recently got in on the fun as well, but recently an additional thought hit me: there’s a lot of good fights heading our way! So since I’ve already looked back on the best moments of 2011, I think it’d be great to take a look forward at what will probably be some of the defining moments of the rest of the year. So here we go: these are my top five most-anticipated fights for the rest of 2011.
It’s the last call for a legend, and one of the greatest MMA fighters in MMA history. If Emelianenko can’t beat Dan Henderson, I have a strong feeling that he’ll retire. And Dan Henderson is currently riding a major wave of momentum now that he’s Strikeforce’s Light Heavyweight Champion. It’s going to be an awesome showdown between two of the best old-school MMA veterans still actively competing today.
It may not have the bitter rivalry of the inevitable showdown between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans… but this is certainly one colossal match-up. I honestly and fully believe that this fight will set the stage for years to come: depending on how Jones does against Jackson, we’ll know for sure whether or not Jones is “the chosen one” that will break the curse of UFC Light Heavyweight Champions losing the belt in their first few fights. I definitely can’t wait to see this fight.
Yushin Okami can’t beat Anderson Silva… right? Of course he can. Anybody can beat anybody, and anything can happen in Mixed Martial Arts. And this is a rematch that’s been years in the making. To a loyal contingent of fans, Okami is one of the most under-rated, under-appreciated fighters currently fighting in the UFC. To a vast majority of people, Anderson Silva is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Any time Anderson Silva fights, you can definitely expect it to chart high on my lists like this. The fact that there’s such an interesting story between Okami and Silva is just icing on the cake.
Now this is a fight everyone can really dig their teeth into. Alistair Overeem has been living up to his nickname “Demolition Man” for a long time now, although he didn’t give the best performance against Fabricio Werdum. Meanwhile, Antonio Silva gave arguably the best performance of his life when he defeated Fedor Emelianenko. Whether you’re an Overeem fan, a “Bigfoot” fan, or simply a fan of great fights, this should definitely be the premiere showdown for the rest of Strikeforce’s year.
And my number-one most-anticipated fight for the rest of 2011 is…
The night Nick Diaz faced Paul Daley, I was on the edge of my seat from the moment that fight started. When Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre goes down, I won’t even need a seat. I’ll be too busy pacing back and forth. I’ve followed Nick Diaz for a long, long time, and in that time, he’s changed from one of the fighters I absolutely despise to one of only a handful of fighters I consider my favorites. Even though he’s incredibly controversial and one of the biggest “bad boys” in MMA, I just can’t help but love Diaz’s take-no-prisoners style and his gruff type of “us against the world” affection that he shows to both his fans and his teammates. I know that Nick Diaz is a legitimate “best in the world” athlete, and I want him to prove that against Georges St. Pierre. But to do that, he’ll have to beat a man that I consider one of the greatest Mixed Martial Artists of all time. This isn’t just my most-anticipated fight for the rest of 2011, it’s probably my most-anticipated fight of the last few years. Everything, and I do mean everything, will be on the line when Nick Diaz fights Georges St. Pierre.