Five fights you shouldn’t miss at UFC 130

UFC 130 will take place this weekend (May 28th) at the famous MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a Light Heavyweight collision between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Matt “The Hammer” Hamill as the main event. UFC 130 fight card also includes nine other exciting match-ups, with former Champions, title challengers and TUF winners testing their skills inside the Octagon.

Here’s top five other fights you definitely shouldn’t miss this weekend:

1. Jorge Santiago (23-8) vs. Brian Stann (10-3) on PPV

Jorge Santiago finally returns to the Octagon, facing the fan-favorite Brian Stann in the main card opener of UFC 130. In his last bout, Santiago defeated the legendary Kauzo Misaki, in one of the most exciting fights in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. From other side, Stann was the first man since Anderson Silva to TKO Chris Leben, and will definitely look to extend his two-fight winning streak against Santiago. Both have a lot to prove, especially when the winner has a good chance to find himself in the mix for a shot at the UFC Middleweight title. Jorge Santiago and Brian Stann always deliver great performances, and we can safely expect another one this Saturday.

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2. Renan Barao (25-1) vs. Cole Escovedo (17-6) on Facebook

I don’t understand how this is the first fight on the prelims, but here’s some statistics: Renan Barao and Cole Escovedo have 22 Submission and 12 KO/TKO victories in 50 combined professional fights. Both are extremely talented, and are well known for always looking to finish their fights. It will be Barao’s (24 years old) UFC after armbarring Chris Cariaso and Anthony Leone at WEC. Barao’s opponent, former WEC featherweight Champion Cole Escovedo, will be also making his UFC debut, with sights on making a successful run in the UFC Bantamweight division. Escovedo’s knockout kick against Yoshiro Maeda at Dream.13 was one of the most brutal strikes I’ve seen in MMA, as the “Apache Kid” will definitely look to prove a point against Barao with another highlight reel KO. Expect fireworks.

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3. Frank Mir (14-5) vs. Roy Nelson (15-5) on PPV

Frank Mir had a lackluster performance against Mirko Cro Cop, and will definitely look to entertain the fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with a good stand-up battle against Roy Nelson. Both fighters have a lot of respect for each other’s grappling skills, and are not expected to take this fight down to the ground. Just like Frank Mir, Roy Nelson has a lot of power in his hands, and can knock anyone out with a well-timed punch. The winner of this fight will find himself one fight away from getting a shot at the title, probably facing Brendan Schaub (if victorious against Nogueira at UFC: Rio) in a #1 Contender fight.

4. Stefan Struve (21-4) vs. Travis Browne (10-0) on PPV

It’s hard to remember Stefan Struve in a boring fight. The Dutchman always delivers exciting fights, with striking, grappling, and simply – violence. Yes, Browne’s performance against Cheick Kongo left a lot to be desired, but still, Hapa’s 10-0 eight-knockout record speaks for itself. Struve loves to fight fire with fire, and we can safely expect him involved in another slugfest against Travis Browne. Statistics-wise, both fighters went only once to decision in their careers, so just like in the Barao-Escovedo fight – expect fireworks.

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5. Kendall Grove (12-8) vs. Tim Boetsch (12-4) on Spike TV

The fight between Kendall Grove and Tim Boetsch will be a war. Win or lose, both Grove and Boetsch always fight their heart out, entartaining MMA fans around the world with a great display of pure Mixed Martial Arts. Both will look to get back on winning ways, after losing to top tier opponents in their last bouts (Demian Maia and Phil Davis). It will be Boetsch’s Middleweight debut, as “The Barbarian”, just like his opponent, has to prove he belongs to the UFC.

Photo: Frank Mir during UFC 92  at the MGM Grand Arena on December 27, 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. Francis Specker