It's been a relatively slow month for MMA. It seems like eons ago since UFC 108 took place, and this weekend's Strikeforce show can't get here fast enough. However, we have 3 events popping off in February so we have a lot of MMA action to look forward to. Actually, several of the fights happening next month could help shape the landscape and a passing of the torch if you will when it comes to MMA careers. Here's my 5 fights worth watching for next month:
1. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria vs. Cain Velasquez at UFC 110-This fight has multiple meaning for me in that Nogueria is my favorite heavyweight fighter of all time. He's facing a hungry, young, up and comer that many feel is the future of the sport in the heavyweight division. Nogueira showed that he still has something in the tank as he performed very well against Randy Couture at UFC 102. A win for Nogueira could put him in line for one more shot at glory in the form of a title shot. A loss would mean that the hype behind Velasquez is real.
2. Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping at UFC 110-The storyline with this one is similar to the one above, but with more emphasis on the end of the road for Silva. A loss to Bisping would all but put the proverbial nail in the coffin on his allustrious career. However, a win would give him new life in a new division, and with the way the UFC gives out title shots in the middleweight division. A possible showdown with Anderson Silva provided he beats Belfort at UFC 112. A win for Bisping helps him right the ship from that devastating KO loss to Henderson at UFC 100. Whereas, a loss to Silva proves that he'll never beat the elite fighters that he faces.
3. Sarah Kaufman vs. Takayo Hashi at Strikeforce Challengers 6-This bout will be for the Strikeforce 135lbs women's title. The first SF champion at that weight, and another step in helping Strikeforce achieve the title of the #1 home for women's MMA.
4. Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 109-This fight has title implications written all over it, especially in regards to Marquardt. I for one still think he deserved the re-match against Silva over Henderson, and definitely deserves the shot more than Belfort. Sonnen has breathed new life into his career since losing to Demian Maia at UFC 95 last year. He's already popping off at the mouth about Anderson Silva, and a win over Marquardt would be huge for him. This should be a good fight.
5. Keith Jardine vs. Ryan Bader at UFC 110-Perfect matchup for Ryan Bader to find out what he's all about as Jardine is the perennial gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division. A win for Bader puts the division on notice, whereas a win for Jardine just means he's a good gatekeeper to the elite of the division.