The UFC returns to “big” FOX this evening with UFC on FOX 11: Werdum vs. Browne from Orlando’s Amway Center.
In the main event, Fabricio Werdum squares off with Travis Browne in a match to determine who will likely challenge Cain Velasquez next for the UFC title. Velasquez is currently sidelined, recovering from surgery.
While Werdum has been the next contender for quite some time, officials asked him to step back inside the Octagon to prove his status vs. Browne. Both fighters have had incredible success as of late inside the Octagon, defeating the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Roy Nelson, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett.
That’s not all the night offers, as Liz Carmouche takes on Miesha Tate in a battle of former No. 1 contenders to the UFC female bantamweight title.
Donald Cerrone goes up against Edson Barboza, Brad Tavares meets Yoel Romero; and that’s just the four-fight main card.
The prelims boast Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomeov in a key lightweight scrap, along with the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Pat Healy, Thiago Alves and Jordan Mein.
So, why should you care about tonight’s card? Glad you asked.
Werdum-Browne each have a legit shot at unseating Velasquez
Now, I am a firm believer in the Velasquez camp, and think he could dominate the heavyweight division for quite some time.
But that is extremely hard. And even harder when you are forced to take time off to recover from injuries.
Both Werdum and Browne have shown they are capable of taking down the mighty. Werdum, a submission wizard, has won three straight. He also submitted Fedor Emelianenko back in 2010, and has also defeated the likes of Antonio Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga.
Browne is coming off three consecutive first round knockout wins over Barnett, Overeem and Gonzaga. Quite the run for someone who just started training in MMA in 2009 after a basketball career.
Each fighter holds qualities to their game that could give Velasquez trouble; and will give the other troubles this evening, as well.
What happens to the Tate-Carmouche winner?
Ronda Rousey is set to defend her title against Alexis Davis later this year. The Gina Carano card continues to tangle out there, along with one featuring Cris Cyborg.
However, Carmouche had the back of Rousey in the opening moments of their fight, and has gained ground since the loss.
An impressive win by either will likely keep them right on the cusp of getting back into title contention, while a loss could see them spiral quite a few pegs down the ladder.
Cerrone-Barboza has “Fight of the Year” potential
These two like to do things in highlight-reel fashion.
The lightweight division is a crowded mess, but both Cerrone and Barboza have strong resumes. If one could find a way to finish the other, or if they put on a “FOY” bout, a future contender match could be on the horizon.
Cerrone-Barboza is the early frontrunner for “Fight of the Night” here, but that honor will be tested by a strong group of prelim bouts, and the Tavares-Romero opener.
The rest of the card
FOX Sports 1 will feature dos Anjos-Nurmagomedov in a 155-pound contest that might lay claim to the best of the night.
Dos Anjos has won five straight, including decisions over Cerrone and Evan Dunham last year, while Nurmagomedov is still unbeaten in his career and sports a 5-0 UFC mark.
If that wasn’t enough in the division, Masvidal and Healy will also exchange shots on the prelims. These are two gritty, grizzled veterans who enjoy nothing more than a 15-minute battle to the end.
The UFC Fight Pass prelims boast up-and-coming stars such as featherweights Mirsad Bektic and Chas Skelly, along with a flyweight bout that could provide fireworks in Dustin Ortiz-Ray Borg.