As we march full speed ahead into the heart of the Spring season, we begin our ascent into the beckoning months that are sure to deliver us some of the best events and fights out of the whole year. This May we will see some amazing fights involving legends, future stars and high level talent in today’s time as they engage in bouts that are sure to effect the landscape of MMA before this years end. Here are the fights you can not miss this month:
Phil Davis vs. King Mo (Bellator 154, May 14th)
In one of the first feature blockbuster match-ups that we will see this year, Light Heavyweight’s Phil Davis and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal will do battle in San Jose with the winner going on to face current champion Liam McGeary for the title later on this year. There are huge stakes in this match-up and both men face in each other arguably the most challenging opposition in their careers. Phil Davis, a former UFC veteran, is coming off a very successful debut night with Bellator last Fall as he won a one-night 4-man Light Heavyweight tournament to earn the chance at the crown. However, Davis was supposed to meet “King Mo” Lawal in the finals but a minor injury forced the former Strikeforce champion out of the one-night tournament leaving Davis to go on to meet the tournament alternate Francis Carmont. Davis came away with two big finishes and two big wins that night. King Mo has since participated in another tournament under the new Japanese promotion Rizin Fighting Federation where he defeated three Heavyweights from Europe and Bellator in a 48-hour time span, finishing two of those fights by knockout. This is by far one of the most intriguing and explosive match-ups that could be made in Bellator’s Light Heavyweight division that doesn’t involve their champion and if both men’s latest exploits inside the cage (and ring) are any indication, this is certainly going to also be one of the more competitive fights we see out of the whole month, if not the whole year.
Livia Renata Souza vs. Angela Hill (Invicta FC 17, May 7th)
Two of Invicta’s fastest growing stars will meet head to head in the co-main event of Invicta FC 17 which will be featured on UFC Fight Pass this weekend. Livia Renata Souza became an overnight success after making her debut in Invicta’s Strawweight division when she defeated Katja Kankaanpaa to win the Invicta FC title. She followed up that huge win with a successful title defense at Invicta FC 15 defeating fellow rising star DeAnna Bennett with a body kick TKO (the first official knockout win of her career). She faces a familiar face to most fans in Angela Hill. Hill of course garnered much popularity in 2014 when she participated in the Ultimate Fighter’s 20th season in a 16-women tournament that would crown the UFC’s inaugural Strawweight champion. Hill was the most inexperienced fighter to compete on the show at 1-0 and lost in the first round to eventual tournament winner and former Invicta Strawweight champion Carla Esparza. She did however capture the hearts of many fans with her sincere and lovable attitude as well as her entertaining and aggressive fighting style. Since joining the Invicta roster this year she has already garnered two highlight reel knockout victories that have earned her this title opportunity and she presents a very credible challenge to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt ace. A true striker vs. grappler match-up, it will be interesting to see how the undefeated champion deals with a woman so highly skilled on the feet and if she will be able to find her another submission victory to add to her ever-impressive resume.
Marcin Held vs. Dave Jansen (Bellator 155, May 20th)
Bellator’s 155 lbs weight class has long been considered the promotions most stacked division, and at Bellator 155 two of their most talented fighters will look to earn much needed momentum back as former title challengers Dave Jansen and Marcin Held meet. Both Jansen and Held are coming off failed attempts to capture the promotions Lightweight title against current 155 pound king Will Brooks. These men have faced each before back at Bellator 93 in 2013 where Jansen walked away with a unanimous decision victory. Held went on to win six straight following that loss, and currently holds 12 submission victories as well as 4 knockouts out of his 21 total career wins. While Held at age 24, has continued to improve, Jansen has possibly begun his battle with Father-time as he will turn 37 this August. These two Lightweights still represent the best of Lightweight division and will undoubtedly bring us a terrific bout that is sure to top their first go-around three years prior. The winner undoubtedly placing himself firmly back in line for another chance at the title.
Marloes Coenen vs. Julia Budd (Bellator 155, May 20th)
In a bout that will crown the first ever Bellator Women’s Featherweight champion, two of the best 145 pound women on the planet not named Cris “Cyborg” Justino will meet. Long time veteran and former Strikeforce Bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen has gone 4-1 in her last 5 as a Featherweight with her only loss coming to Cris Cyborg back in 2013. Another fellow Strikeforce, Invicta and Bellator veteran Julia Budd has remained near-perfect since her loss to Ronda Rousey back in 2011 and has amassed a six-fight winning streak that has put her alongside Coenen as one of the best Featherweights walking the earth. This is women’s MMA bonanza of a fight that could mean big things for Bellator and that division. Both women represent the best of that weight class and will undoubtedly put on one of the most competitive match-ups you will likely ever see in a women’s MMA match outside of Invicta and in Bellator period.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Bryan Caraway (UFC Fight Night 88, May 29th)
This Bantamweight fight will feature one of the few grudge matches that you will see on this list. It has been well documented over social media (mostly on Aljamain’s end) that the two really don’t like each other, which saw Aljamain calling for a bout with Caraway for the better part of 2015. The fight is now set to go down at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas at the end of the month and it will be one of the biggest tests for both men. In Sterling, Caraway faces a hungry and talented up and comer who could put a harmful dent in the career of “Kid Lightning” who is slowly nearing a shot at some of the best in his division after going 6-2 since entering the UFC back in 2012. For Sterling, who has dominated all opposition inside the Octagon thus far and remains undefeated at 12-0, a whole lot rides on most fights he takes moving forward especially against the eighth ranked UFC fighter in Caraway.
Albert Tumenov vs. Gunnar Nelson (UFC Fight Fight Night 87, May 8th)
Another high stakes match-up between two very prominent fighters in the UFC’s Welterweight division. Young and hungry Albert Tumenov, who is a Russian Master of Sports in Boxing and 6-1 in the UFC, has made a big name for himself as of late and now faces the biggest name of his career in Gunnar Nelson. Tumenov is currently ranked at 13 in the UFC rankings while Gunnar Nelson, a prolific training partner of Conor McGregor, recently was pushed out of the top 15 rankings after suffering a unanimous decision loss to top ranked contender Demian Maia last Fall. Nelson is still a very dangerous fighter however and presents a challenge most everywhere that the fight takes place. For Tumenov, perfect placement to face a top ten opponent awaits him should he earn a sixth straight victory giving him plenty of motivation to win convincingly in this fight. Equally as important for Nelson is this bout as he will be looking to get back to his winning ways and back into the rankings of the Welterweight division as well as avoiding the first losing streak of his career.
Renan Barao vs. Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 88, May 29th)
Former UFC Bantamweight champion Renan Barao will be making his return to the Octagon at the end of the month and will be doing so in a new weight class. Following the end of his Bantamweight run, Barao was heavily critical of his own weight cut to 135 pounds citing the strain it was having on his body. Leading up to UFC 177 back in 2014, Barao was set to rematch TJ Dillashaw in the main event but was forced to pull out less than 48 hours from the event due to dehydration that caused Barao to lose consciousness prior to weigh-ins. Now dedicating a move on up a weight class, the former Bantamweight champion looks to make a big statement in his debut at 145 against Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens. Stephens is by no means an easy task however as his status as the UFC’s ninth ranked fighter suggests. A win for Barao here would signify a huge splash to the Featherweight’s elite pool of fighters while a Stephens win would further propel him up the rankings towards a possible match-up with another contender that could potentially have title implications. A great match-up overall as well as both men are historically ferocious finishers.
Alistair Overeem vs. Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 87, May 8th)
Simply put, this is one of the most exciting Heavyweight match-ups we may see all year. Both men have long since cemented a legacy for themselves in this sport as two of the best Heavyweights to every wrap up the 8 oz gloves. Yet both men still desire a taste of gold one last time before reaching that dreaded downward slope in their careers. For these two Heavyweights, this fight could potentially lead to either. Both men possess the power and skill to finish the fight at any given moment and go into this fight knowing the incredible odds at stake given their placement in the division. With Overeem on the cusp of a title shot, and Arlovski on the verge of irrelevancy in the title picture with one more loss, the tension when these men engage following the opening bell will be incredible.
Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt (UFC Fight Night 88, May 29th)
Two undefeated, ranked Bantamweights with 23 knockouts out of 29 combined fights between them….If that isn’t enough to get you excited for this match-up I don’t know what to tell you.
Look, here’s all you need to know. Order this pay-per-view. This main card has it all and then some…and then some more on top of it. Fabricio Werdum defending the title against Stipe Miocic, Anderson Silva taking on fellow phenomenal striker Uriah Hall, two of the most dangerous Middleweigihts walking the planet Earth in Vitor Belfort and “Jacare” Souza, Cris “Cyborg” FINALLY making her UFC debut, and “Shogun” Rua continuing to remain a factor in the Light Heavyweight division against up and coming talent in Corey Anderson. And that’s only the main card. The preliminaries are littered with many high profile match-ups also. Brazil is certainly getting a lot of love from the UFC this month and as long as your eyes are drawn to this card on May 14th, I’m sure these fighters will be looking to give you the same.