Yes, the month started off with UFC 169, but that doesn’t mean there’s not more to see. In fact, there’s much more to see, and not in places you would expect. From World Series of Fighting Canada to Cage Warriors FC, and everything in between, there’s fights to watch for different reasons.
Five Fights to Watch this February
#5) Laura Howarth vs. Amanda Kelly (Cage Warriors Fighting Championships 64, February 15th)
Now, I know it might shock some of you to see me listing a bout between a pair of up and coming women on a British MMA card, but it shouldn’t. Some of you may remember Laura Howarth from the TUF 18 preliminary fights, putting in a strong effort before eventually falling to Jessamyn Duke. That is not enough to dull her potential upside, however, as the Rosi Sexton protege makes her debut with Cage Warriors FC. A solid striker with the power and timing to have a liver kick KO to her name in an amateur fight, “Hot Head” Howarth will be taking on another fist-slinger in Amanda Kelly, whose single professional fight ended in a KO victory via knees. Expect fireworks in this one.
#4) Tim Hague vs. Lee Mein (World Series of Fighting Canada: Ford vs. Powell, Feb. 21st)
Tim Hague had a couple of runs with the UFC at heavyweight, going a combined 1-4, with his lone win coming at UFC 98 over Pat Barry via guillotine choke. Lee Mein has been bouncing around the Canadian MMA scene for years, losing more than he’s won, but putting on decent shows while helping to develop students like his son, UFC welterweight Jordan Mein. Is this fight a mismatch? On paper, yes of course. However, it will be a fun bout between two game heavyweights and should be entertaining for however long it lasts.
#3) Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia (UFC 170, February 22nd)
This fight could very well be considered a title eliminator, with the winner going on to face the victor of the upcoming bout between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship. Both men were on something of a tear in the 170 lbs. division before taking split decision losses in their last bouts: Maia losing a questionable decision to Jake Shields, while MacDonald was out-pointed by the aforementioned Lawler. Both men will be looking to avenge their losses and claim a place in the chaos that is currently the UFC’s welterweight division. I, for one, am stoked.
#2) Ronaldo Souza vs. Francis Carmont (UFC Fight Night 36, February 15th)
Francis Carmont, for all the criticisms that have been lobbed at him over the course of his last 3 fights, is on a 6 fight winning streak. That alone is enough to put the French fighter in the Middleweight Top 10. Opposite him we have Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, the dynamic former Strikeforce middleweight champion who is on a 5 fight win streak of his own. One has to think that a win for either man will put them into the fast track for a shot at the UFC Middleweight Title, with “Jacare” being most likely to get it in the event of a victory. Definitely a fight with major implications.
#1) Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann (UFC 170, February 22nd)
Unlike many other sports, the prospects for an Olympian vs. Olympian match-up in MMA is very rare. A fight between two Olympic medalists even more so, but that’s what we have here. Both women competed in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, with Rousey taking bronze in Judo and McMann taking silver in Freestyle Wrestling. It’s a grappling nerd’s wet dream, and we all get to see it at UFC 170. Style vs. style, Wrestling vs. Judo… It’s almost like a throwback to the old days of the UFC, the days before everybody wised up and started cross-training. It’s going to be tremendous, and you know you’re going to watch it too.