I've compiled a list of nine UFC fights that I feel need to happen in 2013. Two fighters from each weight category in the UFC have been selected, taking in to account title contender-ship, excitement and styles whilst choosing each match up.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez-Here is a rematch that needs to happen. The first fight between the two was for the inaugural flyweight championship in the UFC, and it was fought at a frenetic pace. Benavidez has since beaten Ian McCall, Johnson has beaten John Dodson, and Benavidez officially holds the number one contender spot in the division. Johnson was scheduled to face John Moraga before being pulled from the fight with an injury, meanwhile Benavidez is set to face Darren Uyenoyama at UFC on Fox 7. What would make more sense to me is to have Benavidez vs. Johnson and have the number four (Moraga) face off against the number eight (Uyenoyama).
Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao-The UFC bantamweight champion Cruz has been sidelined with an ACL injury which he sustained in mid-2012. Renan Barao has been on a hot streak during Cruz's lay-off, defeating Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber for the interim belt, and Michael McDonald. Cruz, who hasn't fought since late 2011, needs to come back and fight the guy who has been clearing out his division.
Clay Guida vs. Chan Sung Jung-This is my personal pick for fight of the year 2013 if it happens. Clay Guida is known for his solid jaw and high paced fighting style, and 'Korean Zombie' earned his nickname for his ability to take brutal shots and keep moving forwards. I can't imagine many other bouts this year that would provide as much pure excitement as seeing 'The Carpenter' take on 'The Korean Zombie'. Make it happen Dana.
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis-This is a match-up that has been waiting to happen since the two put on a fight of the year performance back in 2010. Pettis took the WEC lightweight title form Henderson in a spectacular five round affair at WEC 53. Since the merging of the UFC and WEC, 'Bendo' has become the lightweight champion once again. Pettis is scheduled to fight Jose Aldo for the featherweight title this year and if 'Showtime' is successful I think a super fight between Pettis and Henderson would surely be a great way to cap off 2013.
Demian Maia vs. Jake Ellenberger-In my opinion this bout would be for the number one contender spot in the division. Maia has been on a spree since dropping to 170, and Ellenberger is fresh off of a knockout of Nate Marquardt. 'The Juggernaut' has been making waves at welterweight for a while now, and I think that a bout between him and Maia would give us a clear cut opponent for the winner of Georges St-Pierre vs Johny Hendricks (providing this bout does take place).
Hector Lombard vs. Vitor Belfort-Here is another match that I want to happen because of its potential to be seriously explosive. Both these guys have above 50% KO to victory ratios. Although this match up wouldn't hold much relevance for the title contender-ship, I think that it would provide a fast paced and incredibly exciting fight at 185.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson-This is a bout that I feel could be a real game changer for the division. In Jones we have an incredible all round athlete with unorthodox striking and range, then we look at Gustafsson who has knockout power and a good submission game, and is on a six fight win streak right now. I honestly think Gustafsson is the only guy at 205 to give Jones a run for his money or possibly beat him. Providing Gustafsson and Jones get past Mousasi and Sonnen, this match up will be a reality in the near future.
Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez-A fight which a lot of people may disagree with based on Velasquez schooling Dos Santos recently, but hear me out. Velasquez was considered the best heavyweight on the planet, and was expected to reign for a long time prior to being knocked out by Junior dos Santos, and losing the title back in 2011. When the two met for the second bout I firmly believed that Dos Santos would win again, or at least the fight would be a little closer. So we are left with a situation where each man has beaten the other, taken the title away, and left their opponent humiliated. It is the perfect stage for a rubber match in my opinion, regardless of whether it is for the title. JDS vs. Velasquez 3 needs to happen to settle their score.
Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano-I feel this fight needs to happen for a few reasons. Firstly, as you look down the women's BW rankings Zingano is the first woman in the top four that Rousey hasn't beaten. Both women hold a perfect record of 7-0. Rousey has finished every opponent by armbar in the first round, and Zingano has only ever been to the scorecards once due to her knockout power and submission prowess. It is already established that Rousey will coach TUF 18 opposite the winner of Zingano vs. Tate, so this bout could well be a reality by this April.