They say, “April beatings will bring May bleedings.” Or something like that, anyways, but I digress. If you wish to avoid looking the part of the fool, then I suggest you keep your eye out for these five fights to watch this April. Listed in no particular order, of course.
1) Ramsey Nijem vs. Beneil Dariush (UFC Fight Night Abu Dhabi, April 11th
Nijem did not take the easy route in his career, going professional right away and basically doing most of his development in the UFC, starting with his appearance on Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. Dariush is blue-chip prospect who entered the UFC with a bang, destroying Charlie Brenneman in less than 2 minutes. Nijem, though, is certainly more durable than Brenneman, and will present a great challenge for Dariush. As well, both of these fighters of are Middle Eastern heritage (Nijem is Palestinian-American, Dariush’s background is Persian), and are a perfect pair to square off at the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi.
2) Tim Kennedy vs. Michael Bisping (TUF: Nations Finale, April 16th)
No matter how hard he tries, Bisping will never, ever be able to get the best of Kennedy in a war of wits. The lead up to this fight has been even more entertaining than when Bisping took on Jorge Rivera and was so pissed off he had to foul his way to victory (No way in Hell that knee was legal) before spitting on Rivera’s corner. That is not to say that Bisping is not a talented fighter, because he most certainly is. However, so is Kennedy, and that’s what should make this an entertaining bout.
3) Rafael dos Anjos Vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC on FOX 11, April 19th)
The UFC’s #7 (Nurmagomedov) and #5 (#Dos Anjos) lightweights will face off, trying to get themselves that ever elusive title shot at UFC on FOX 11. Nurmagomedov – who has attracted fanboys and fangirls so quickly you may as well call him “KhaBieber” – is part of the crop of Russian samboists currently invading the UFC’s 155 lbs.-and-under divisions and doing varying degrees of damage. Dos Anjos, on the other hand, has been quietly working his way back up the rankings with a 5 fight winning streak. Expect action here, people.
4) Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne (UFC on FOX 11, April 19th)
Two fights to watch on the same card! That’s a sure sign that the UFC has stacked their next FOX card, considering that the winner of Werdum vs. Browne should be next in line for UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. The Fight Network’s Robin Black once said, “There are black belts, and then there are Black Belts,” in regards to BJJ practitioners in MMA, and Werdum is one of those Black Belts. Paired with his steadily improving Muay Thai skills, it makes “Vai Cavalo” one of the more dangerous fighters in the UFC’s heavyweight division. That said, Browne is one of the most athletic heavyweights in the Zuffa-owned promotion, and has been on what is best describe as “a surge” as of late, having finished Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, and Josh Barnett in his last 3 fights. Watch out for the Hell-bows from Browne.
#5) Jessamyn Duke vs. Bethe Correira (UFC 172, April 26th)
Some of you may remember Duke as one of the two exceptionally tall women on Team Rousey from the 18th Season of The Ultimate Fighter. You may also remember Correira as the scrappy Brazilian who took a close split decision against Julie Kedzie in what would be the WMMA pioneer’s final bout. Since then, Correira has continued training with Bellator’s “Pitbull” Brothers, Patricio and Patricky Friere, while Duke has been under the combined tutelage of Edmond Taverdyan, Ronda Rousey, and Shayna Baszler. This is going to be a bout to watch, because the future of the UFC’s Women’s Bantamweight Division is going to unfold before your very eyes.