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Upcoming fights that will shape the UFC’s Featherweight division
Lots of appetizing fights on the way in the coming weeks, especially if you are a fan of fast-paced lighter weight action. Here, we examine upcoming bouts that will certainly answer some questions about potential contenders at 145 pounds.
Featherweight ruler Jose Aldo will meet former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar on February 2nd in the main event of UFC 156. Odds are, the winner of the long awaited Aldo/Edgar fight will collide with “The Korean Zombie” Chan-Sung Jung, who is in the midst of a 3 fight winning streak. But in the coming weeks, there are many a fight that will help answer questions about who will follow Edgar and Jung as contenders in line for a championship opportunity.
Ricardo Lamas (12-2) vs Erik Koch (13-1)
UFC on Fox: Johnson vs Dodson – January 26th, 2013
Erik Koch twice was booked to face champion Jose Aldo in the main events of UFC 149 and 153, respectively, before injuries derailed both bouts. Koch stamped his ticket before with a victory over The Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins and a Knockout Of The Night of Raphael Assuncao. The once-defeated “New Breed” will be forced to earn his title opportunity once again when he faces the streaking Ricardo Lamas. Lamas is riding a 3 fight winning streak, including a victory over the highly-touted Hatsu Hioki and an arm-triangle finish of fellow contender Cub Swanson. Neither fighter has had a shot at Jose Aldo, and both fighters are on winning streaks, which means that both of them have a chance to make a statement as the next championship contender. Will Koch finally get his championship fight? Or will Ricardo Lamas continue his winning ways en route to his first UFC title fight?
Chad Mendes (12-1) vs Hacran Dias (21-1-1)
UFC on FX: Sotiropoulos vs Pearson – December 15th, 2012
Hacran Dias has turned out to be a bit of a mystery so far. He was initially slated to be a part of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” before it was decided that he would skip the reality show and head straight to the big stage. For those who had questions as to why Dias got the opportunity over others, they were quickly silenced, as Dias dominated fellow Brazilian Yuri Alcantara en route to a unanimous decision victory in his UFC debut. The win snapped a 12 fight winning streak for Alcantara, and quickly established Dias as a talent to watch. There are many less questions about perennial Featherweight contender Chad “Money” Mendes, who is coming into this after annihilating Cody McKenzie with a massive body punch in his first fight after his KO defeat at the hands of Jose Aldo. Will Mendes be able to match the speed of Dias? Will we see a new and improved standup game from Mendes? What else can UFC fans expect from Hacran Dias?
Hatsu Hioki (26-5-2) vs Clay Guida (29-13)
UFC on Fox: Johnson vs Dodson – January 26th, 2013
Hatsu Hioki had his opportunity to face Jose Aldo, but in an ill-fated showing of humility, Hioki did not believe himself to be ready, and wanted one more fight before he took his title shot. This turned out to be unwise, as Hioki proceeded to drop a unanimous decision to fellow contender Ricardo Lamas. Hioki looks to bounce back against a UFC fan favorite in Clay Guida. Guida makes his Featherweight debut after a bizarre yet razor-thin split decision loss to Gray Maynard, and looks to right the ship with a few more pounds shedded. Both men are notorious for their gameplanning and grinding abilities. Will Guida’s speed be what it was after the weight cut? Will Hioki be able to climb back up the rankings? Which grinder will grind out the other?
Diego Nunes (18-3) vs Nik Lentz (22-5-2)
UFC on FX: Belfort vs Bisping – January 19th, 2013
After garnering a bit of a reputation as a grinder, Lentz surprised many pundits in his Featherweight debut by pounding out Eiji Mitsuoka for his first finish in his UFC career. After a two fight losing streak at Lightweight, Lentz dropped to 145 and righted the ship, and looks to re-establish his winning streak as he faces the ever-dangerous Diego “The Gun” Nunes. Nunes has been victorious in 5 of his last 7 fights, and looks to build his way back to contender’s status when he collides with Lentz. Both fighters are well-rounded on their feet and on the ground. Nunes has never been finished, while Lentz, besides a doctor’s stoppage TKO loss to Evan Dunham, has not been finished in nearly 5 years. Will Lentz continue his rise at his new weight class or will Nunes regain momentum on his way back up the ladder?
Dennis Siver (20-8) vs Nam Phan (18-10)
UFC on Fox: Henderson vs Diaz – December 8th, 2012
Another Lightweight import will be in action sooner than later in pinpoint striker Dennis Siver, as he collides with journeyman pugilist and multi-discipline blackbelt Nam Phan. Siver has won 5 of his last 6 fights, including a decision win over fellow contender Diego Nunes, and looks to continue his climb up the ranks with a win over former “The Ultimate Fighter” contestant Phan. Phan, meanwhile, is coming off a split decision victory over veteran Cole Miller, his second in his last three fights, and continues to round out his game after he joined up with Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male. Will Siver continue his Featherweight tenure with another strong showing against Phan? How has Phan’s time with Team Alpha Male affected his overall fight style?