“Any Given Sunday.” This term is legendary with the sport of football. It means that anybody can win at any time. This concept applies to mma as well. Anybody has a “punchers chance” in any fight. There is always going to be the “guy on paper” or the favorite, but this doesn’t necessarily declare a winner.
Upsets are what help make the sport. If sports were predictable, then no one would watch them. The shock and awe is what keeps us coming back every time.
The UFC has a bunch of events left before the year is over. A bunch of the fights are what we call lock ins, but you can bet some of those won’t end the way we expect. Then you have some upsets that stand out. Let’s discuss the top 10 potential upsets before the new year.
~ 10 ~
Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Stephens: UFC Fight Night 32
After winning TUF Brazil, Rony Jason has been on a roll. His next fight will be a true test. Jeremy Stephens has all the tools to take Jason down and finish on the ground or grind out a decision. Stephens has lost decisions to Donald Cerrone and current UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Not taking anything away from Jason, but if Pettis had trouble with Stephens, you can bet he will as well. If Jason can utilize his dangerous kicks without being taken down and use his range, he should be able to catch a reckless Stephens with a head kick or a nasty strike. Stephens has to be the favorite, but Jason will be looking for the biggest win of his career and is ready to prove he can hang with the big dogs.
~ 9 ~
Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit: UFC on Fox 9
We all know that Carlos Condit is probably the best fighter without a championship. His skills are on another level and his cardio is almost never ending. When he steps in to take on Matt Brown, we should expect a war with Condit’s hand being raised. If Matt Brown has anything to say about it, “The Natural Born Killer” won’t be the guy to end the 6 fight winning streak.
Brown is used to being underestimated and being the underdog. If he can silence the doubters and beat Condit, he will score the biggest upset of his career, and continue his winning ways.
~ 8 ~
Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald: UFC 167
If anybody can test the chin of Rory and see what this kid made of, it has to be Robbie Lawler. MacDonald has been treated like the next big thing, but as of late, he seems to come to win, not finish. Lawler seems to be reborn in his UFC return and has all the ability to play the role as spoiler at UFC 167.
MacDonald has all the tools to be a champ one day and is still young in this sport. He should be able to come out and execute his game-plan and grab the victory. Either way, Lawler will bring it and make him earn it, and we could easily see an upset with Lawler’s hands raised.
~ 7 ~
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald: UFC on Fox 9
Michael McDonald seems to be the real deal and the next big thing. He has already been is some major wars in the UFC and is still young. When him and Faber lock up, it will be the true test. This will either be the fight that ends Faber’s career or the fight that helps make McDonald a better fighter.
Faber on paper is the better fighter, but I think McDonald already had his “learning” fight when he fought Renan Barao. McDonald has proved he has heavy hands and a decent ground game. Will this be enough to shut down “The California Kid?” Only time will tell, but I think this is a great call for an upset.
~ 6 ~
Anthony Pettis vs. Josh Thomson: UFC on FOX 9
Now, I know this one is a little out there, but not as much as you think. Pettis is without a doubt one of the best strikers in all mma and after he ran through Benson Henderson, fans all over the world believe he is unbeatable. No one is unbeatable. Thomson has all the skills to walk out as the new UFC champ. It all really depends on his health.
Thomson has been in wars with Gilbert Melendez and others, and it always seems to come down to health. If he can come in at 89% healthy or more, he could pull off the upset. His kickboxing is up to par and he has the wrestling skills to put Pettis on his back. He mixes up strikes and takedowns with the best of them. This is a little far fetched, but time will tell how prepared and healthy Thomson comes into this fight.
~ 5 ~
Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson: UFC Fight Night 32
This is a pointless rematch for Belfort, but Henderson old or not, always comes to fight. Belfort is reborn (TRT style) and just looks unstopable right now in his career and should be able to beat Hendo, and possibly by knockout.
That being said, Dan Henderson is always a punch away from ending a fight and will have the chance in this one. Belfort will try and strike with Hendo, and doing that always leaves you open for the H-bomb.
~ 4 ~
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez: Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale
The champ will be the favorite, but if anybody can beat Johnson, it’s the guy who almost beat him the first time. Benavidez has been taking his time getting back to a title shot, and with the improvement from Duane “Bang” Ludwig, he looks better than ever. Johnson is quick, clever, and has became the best flyweight in the UFC.
Benavidez has all the tools with his wrestling, and now has the skills in his hands. Benavidez knows the judges won’t be in his favor, so he should come out and do what he has been doing and finish the fight. If Benavidez can land one cleanly on Johnson’s chin, we could see a new champ at the TUF 18 finale.
~ 3 ~
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate: UFC 168
Even Ronda Rousey admitted that she beat Tate the first time due to emotion. Watching TUF 18, it seems like the emotion is on the other foot. Tate seems to be relaxed, while Rousey seems very angry at all times. If Rousey brings in this aggression in their rematch, not only will Tate take this into deep waters, but she will walk out as the second woman’s champ in UFC history.
Tate will bring in a smart game-plan and not rush into Rousey’s guard this time around. Tate learned the hard way the first time, and should respect the judo of Rosuey the second time around.
~ 2 ~
GSP vs. Johny Hendricks: UFC 167
GSP is no joke and will be looking to run away with another lack luster decision victory when he fights number one contender Johny Hendricks. Hendricks will be ready for a war, but we all know he wants to test the chin of GSP. GSP’s chin has been tested by Matt Sera and Carlos Condit and has failed both times.
If GSP’s chin attends JHU (Jonhy Hendricks University), you can bet he will once again fail. Hendricks will be looking for the knockout early, so be ready for GSP to immediately try to take this fight to the ground. The big test will be if Hendricks can get back to his feet and knock him out. His wrestling is good enough, so he should be able to upset GSP come UFC 167, but it’s so hard to count out the best wrestler at 170 lbs.
~ 1 ~
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva: UFC 168
I know Weidman is the champ going into this fight, but Silva is without a doubt the favorite. After losing the way he did, some still have their doubts about Chris Weidman. Did Weidman get lucky, or is he really that good? Was Silva too cocky? Time will tell. The best part about this fight is we will all see the best Anderson Silva ever.
If Weidman can beat Silva, finish him again, and be the only guy to beat Silva in the UFC, then his legacy will already be set and fans will witness the best upset of the year guaranteed. Weidman has all the tools to pull out the upset again, and you know Silva will do everything in is power to make sure that doesn’t become a reality.