Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Donald Cerrone (red gloves) kicks Adriano Martins (blue gloves) in the neck for a knock-out during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The first MMA event of April goes down this weekend at Bellator 115 headlined by the Heavyweight title fight between Vitaly Minakov and Cheick Kongo. There are plenty of great bouts and events to look forward to throughout the month; In total, there are seven major MMA events in the month of April.
Since most fight fans do not have the time to catch every single fight from every single event, I will run down the five can not miss fights of April. I will be leaving some obvious fights out from this list (such as Jon Jones vs Glover Teixeira and Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne) in order to highlight some of the lesser known, but still intriguing fights.
5. Douglas Lima vs Rick Hawn (Bellator 117)
This bout will headline Bellator 117 and will determine the new Bellator Welterweight champion after Ben Askren vacated the title when he was released. Lima has been on a tear since losing to Ben Askren back at Bellator 64. Since then, Lima has won four fights in a row by way of TKO/KO. Lima is a walking highlight reel that should not be missed. Rick Hawn has looked impressive since returning to the Bellator Welterweight ranks last year. In a span of eight months, the former Olympic judoka has won four straight fights. This bout has all the makings of a fight of the year candidate.
4. Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy (TUF Nations)
These guys legitimately hate each other. Ever since Kennedy joined the UFC, he has bad mouthed Michael Bisping any chance he could. Bisping has played along and given his fair share of trash talk as well, but the important point is that these men are elite martial artists. Bisping is no stranger to trash talk, as he seemingly puts on his best performances against those who ridicule him (See Jorge Rivera, Mayhem Miller, and Alan Belcher). Bisping is also returning from a lengthy injury layoff, so it will be interesting to see how he responds when he gets back in the cage. The matchup is intriguing as well considering Kennedy’s grinding style vs Bisping’s constant footwork.
3. Jorge Masvidal vs. Pat Healy (UFC on FOX 11)
Both of these men are scrappers. Masvidal puts together just beautiful flowing combinations with a tenacity that is nearly unmatched in the UFC’s Lightweight division. Healy likes to make every fight as ugly and dirty as possible. Healy thrives when he can push forward and make his opponent less technical. The intriguing stylistic matchup, plus the importance of the bout for both men makes this a must watch.
2. Phil Davis vs. Anthony Johnson (UFC 172)
Phil Davis has been on the sidelines for far too long for a fighter not nursing any injuries. Davis is likely one win away from a UFC title shot, but he has a stiff test in front of him. Former UFC Welterweight, Anthony Johnson, has found his groove in the Light Heavyweight division as of late and is ready to make a statement later this month. Since losing to Vitor Belfort and being cut from the UFC in 2012, Johnson has won six straight fights including four highlight reel KO’s. This fight has the chance to end suddenly and violently, so do not miss it.
1. Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza (UFC on FOX 11)
In my opinion, there is a not a single more exciting matchup this month than Donald Cerrone vs Edson Barboza. Both men have a penchant for flashy strikes and brutal knockouts. They have also both experienced poor performances inside the Octagon that slowed down their hype trains significantly. As of late, however, both men are on winning streaks and are looking better than ever. If either man is able to finish the other, it would make a huge statement to the contenders in the UFC’s crowded Lightweight division.
Did you agree with my assessment of the five can not miss fights of April? Was there a fight I left out that you are excited to see? Sound off in the comments below or on Twitter @SchlinskMMA