After a two week hiatus, the UFC is back this Friday with UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi. In the main event, former UFC interim Heavyweight champion, Minotauro Nogueira, returns to the Octagon after a nine month sabbatical to take on the heavy handed Roy Nelson.
That is not the only MMA action on this weekend, as Bellator 116 is live and free this Friday night on Spike TV. The card will feature the Season 10 Heavyweight tournament semi-finals. In the main event of the evening, former UFC veteran Lavar Johnson will take on Blagoi Ivanov.
Today, I will preview three underrated fights that simply can not be missed this weekend. By default, I will leave out both main events, as they should not be missed.
3. Joey Beltran vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (Bellator 116)
While this may not end up being the most exciting or important fight, it marks the end of an era. Vladimir Matyushenko has officially announced that this bout will be his final before retiring, no matter the outcome. Matyushenko was one of the original MMA pioneers, starting his career back in 1997. Over his 17 year career, Matyushenko fought some of the toughest MMA fighters in history. Spanning a career that saw him fight in the UFC, Bellator, and IFL, Matyushenko fought the likes of Tito Ortiz, Jon Jones, Tim Boetsch, Ryan Bader, Andrei Arlovski, and more. Everyone should watch Matyushenko’s final fight, and hopefully it is a great one.
2. John Howard vs. Ryan LaFlare (UFC Fight Night 39)
This fight has huge consequences for both men. This fight will basically determine which of the two men may actually be a contender in the UFC’s Welterweight division. With the top half of the division sorting itself out while Johny Hendricks is on the mend, LaFlare and Howard have the opportunity to skyrocket up the rankings with an impressive performance this weekend. LaFlare is undefeated in his MMA career, and is 3-0 in the UFC. Howard, since returning to the Octagon in April, has won two tough fights in a row over Uriah Hall and Siyar Bahadurzada.
1. Clay Guida vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (UFC Fight Night 39)
MMA fans waited for years to see Kawajiri step foot inside the Octagon, and this past January he did just that by defeating Sean Soriano by rear naked choke in the second round. The UFC’s Featherweight division is stacked with contenders, but Kawajiri can sneak his way into the top 10 with an impressive performance on Friday.
Clay Guida is in a major drought as of late, going 1-3 in his last four. He has also seen a drastic change in styles. Guida was once a can’t miss action fighter, seemingly turned into a point-machine. Here is to hoping that this fight brings out the old Clay Guida and fans are treated to an epic battle.