Have you ever anticipated something so badly, yet when you got it, your first response was, “Is that it?” Fans of Ultimate Fighting Championship, loyalists and novices alike, felt similar disappointment on the heels of the company’s debut with Fox Sports. The first event for UFC on Fox was supposed to be the one that captured the attention of sports enthusiasts unfamiliar with the sport. Far be it from me to play the role of program director, but a one-hour time slot should’ve featured more than previews of UFC’s biggest heavyweight title fight to date, along with the fight itself, which only lasted 64 seconds. There was an awesome co-main event in Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida…which could only be seen on Facebook?
The beauty of making mistakes are the options to learn and be redeemed of them. The leading brand in Mixed Martial Arts won’t get its chance to make things up to the larger audience until “UFC On Fox’s” next airing in January 2012, but constituents of the sport will witness redemption as soon as Saturday, November 19th, courtesy of UFC 139.
On a night featuring six former MMA champions and two rising stars, this lineup carries bouts that could leave behind some things to talk about.
Martin “Hitman” Kampmann vs. Rick “Horror” Story- Welterweight Division Bout
Story made a story of himself at UFC 130 with a dominant performance over one of the division’s strongest combatants in Thiago Alves. A month later, he was outclassed by last minute entrant Charlie Brenneman. Kampmann, however, fell victim to questionable, decision losses in his last two outings. I don’t know which Story will show up November 19th, but I’ll comfortably suggest “The Hitman” will not let a third fight fall into the judges’ hands. Give me Kampmann over Story!
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber vs. Brian Bowles- UFC Bantamweight Title #1 Contention
Faber has made his fixation with Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz public knowledge. Before getting ahead of himself, he should consider the fact that Bowles is just as deserving of a title shot. Bowles lost the WEC Bantamweight strap to Cruz back in March 2010, thanks to a broken hand that forced a doctor’s stoppage. Faber wants to avenge his UFC 132 loss to the champion. While both have the title in their radars, the more diverse fighter in Faber should get the decision, as long as he’s focused on the current task at hand.
Wanderlai “The Axe Murderer” Silva vs. Cung Le- Middleweight Bout (Co-Main Event)
Once upon a time, Silva was one of the most dominating figures in Mixed Martial Arts. He was the Pride Fighting Championship Middleweight champion from 2001 – 2007, which translated into a 18-fight win streak. In his 33 career wins, 23 came by way of knockout. Fast forward to recent times, Silva has lost three of his last four bouts. He will have the daunting task of facing former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Cung Le, who makes his UFC debut in his hometown of San Jose, California. As vicious of a striker as Silva is, Cung has variety to go with the ferocity of his strikes. Cung wins impressively in his inaugural UFC performance.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson- Light Heavyweight Bout (Main Event)
The last time we saw Shogun, he had an impressive homecoming at UFC Rio, making light work of former division champion Forrest Griffin. Rua’s quest is to regain the UFC Light Heavyweight strap, but his journey includes a meeting with fellow legend and current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Dan Henderson. “Hendo” returns to UFC after reconciling differences with Dana White over a contract dispute from some years back. Rua is a fighter who you don’t want to strike you. His kicks echo throughout arenas, speaking volumes on how deadly they are. Given the savvy of Henderson, I’m inclined to believe the champion will counter his foe’s strong suit and force him into areas that’ll prove most uncomfortable. Hendo moves a step closer to a possible unification of the UFC and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight titles.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving offers some quality fights. Coming off the famine that was UFC on Fox, fight fans should feast greatly from the trimmings that UFC 139 will bring, thus leaving the masses thankful.
By Antoine Hoffman