Four weekends, four UFC events: What to watch in April

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After hosting just two events in March, the UFC is back with four events this month. It will consists of two fight nights, one Fox event, and one pay-per-view in a wide variety of intriguing fights. While nothing monumental is expected to happen this month, it still consists of several title eliminator fights that should be watched closely. Many of them can be considered as fan-friendly fights, which Joe Silva and Sean Shelby seem focused on after a disappointing 2014.

The four fights that are listed aren’t main event related. The main event on any card should be the drawing point towards watching an event. What these four fights bring are an equal level of talent and should feature a healthy dose of violence. It all begins in Fairfax, Virginia and ends in Montreal, Canada. Here are four fights that you don’t want to miss this month.

UFC Fight Night 63: Jorge Masvidal vs. Al Iaquinta

Besides Masvidal himself, every MMA fan has to be salivating over this fight. This is another matchup that proves how valuable the lightweight division has become over the past few years. Both fighters aren’t in the top ten, yet many fans are clamoring over this bout. A well-rounded veteran that has essentially no flaws in Masvidal against a blue-chip prospect in Iaquinta, who is starting to develop into a devastating striker. Whoever can control distance should prevail in this close encounter. Masvidal is notorious for forcing his opponents against the fence and constantly tagging them with relentless combinations.

On the other hand, Iaquinta has displayed excellent footwork in his past two fights. The Ultimate Fighter season 15 runner-up has stayed patient in recent wins over Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon before timing his combinations perfectly. In past fights, we’ve seen that Masvidal can be a slow starter and tries to feel out his opponents far too long. Iaquinta likes to be patient as well, but may benefit from shooting in for a takedown or moving forward constantly to frustrate the American Top Team star. Masvidal does have underrated takedown defense, which may frustrate Iaquinta and force him into a full striking battle. This fight will surely captivate the crowd, as both fighters are fearless and relentless in trying to establish a striking advantage. Any fan can appreciate an excellent stand-up battle.

UFC Fight Night 64: Jimi Manuwa vs. Jan Blachowicz

A Fight Pass card will usually have a limited selection of intriguing fights. This is no different, as this event will take place in Poland. Another selection will be made from the co-main event, where Poland’s own Jan Blachowicz will face the biggest challenge of his career. Many expected Blachowicz to get taken down by Illr Latifi and not being able to survive from his constant pressure. Instead the southpaw utilized distance and finished Latifi in under two minutes. It was a sloppy exchange, yet Blachowicz landed a vicious body kick that Latifi couldn’t recover from. A perfectly-timed head kick and countless left hands led to an upset win for the former KSW light heavyweight champion.

Manuwa is quite a step up in competition, given how his style consists of being so explosive. His speed tends to catch his opponents off guard, along with the fluidity within his boxing. Although his career has derailed by injuries recently, Manuwa remains as one of the better prospects in the light heavyweight division. The competition has been fairly favorable for a fighter of Manuwa’s caliber. The only time that he was truly tested was against Alexander Gustafsson, who beat him with relative ease. This is a true test for both fighters that have been looking for a captivating matchup. Will Manuwa’s explosiveness be too overpowering for Blachowicz, who likes to fight at a slower pace? How much will body kicks play a factor in this bout? On a card lacking much buzz, the winner of this fight could very well earn a much more high-profile fight in a limited light heavyweight division.

UFC on FOX 15: Cub Swanson vs. Max Holloway

Another exciting stand-up battle will be featured on Fox between two top-level featherweights. We’ll see a fair share of stand-up battles on the preliminary portion of an event, particularly if the fighters come from The Ultimate Fighter season in Latin America. The discrepancy in technical ability and fight IQ are two significant differences in distinguishing levels of a true stand-up battle. A top-level fighter can survive and beat Jeremy Stephens after 25 minutes of mainly standing and trading with him. While Conor McGregor did suffer a knee injury in the third round, nobody took him to decision in the UFC besides Max Holloway.

This fight is the perfect bout for the main card on Fox. Swanson is constantly evolving through different striking combinations, particularly when targeting the body. His knockout of Charles Oliveira showcased that attribute. The same can be said for Holloway, who targeted the body constantly against Cole Miller. Several fighters still utilize kicks to the body frequently. What seems to be a lost art is utilizing hooks or even jabs to the body. Both fighters will utilize that attack in trying to find openings against each other, especially since both fighters are defensively sound. A fifteen-minute slug-fest looks certain based on both fighters’ durability and versatility.

UFC 186: Michael Bisping vs. C.B Dollaway

The choices for UFC 186 are rather slim following two major fight cancellations. Nothing on the under-card stands out, although Randa Markos vs. Aisling Daly is an excellent bout. What should be featured showcases two veterans that are both well rounded and have excellent conditioning. Michael Bisping can be labeled as fairly predictable through constantly relying on his jab and utilizing constant forward pressure. His main attribute of having endless cardio will always make him dangerous.

An action-packed fight will usually occur in a fight featuring Bisping. The one recent exception was against Tim Kennedy, who has proven to be a top-level grappler. Can Dollaway smother Bisping into working off his back for the majority of the fight? This could end up becoming a chess match in who can implement their game plan better. After the loss to Kennedy, Bisping has worked extensively at Reign Training Center with two All-American wrestlers in Mark Munoz and Patrick Cummins. With both fighters thriving on one particular game plan, it could very well come down to who can implement their game plan in a pivotal middleweight matchup. It will be Dollaway’s wrestling against Bisping flurry of constant punches and forward pressure.

Twitter: @Allen_Strk

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