Five must-see fights at UFC 201: Lawler vs. Woodley

BY Jonathan Bradley • November 15, 2016

Atlanta is in for a treat Saturday night when the UFC comes to town with an exciting slate of fights that include a welterweight title bout and a slew of other interesting matchups between ranked opponents.

The 12-bout card promises to be action-packed from the opening bell of the first contest, but here are five fights at UFC 201 you don’t want to miss.

Tyron Woodley won the fights in front of him, was patient and now he’s just a couple days away from getting his wish to fight for the UFC welterweight title. Standing across from him, however, is one of the scariest men on the UFC roster in Robbie Lawler, who has evolved into an absolute monster since returning to the UFC in 2013.

Lawler and Woodley have almost identical striking statistics, as they both land just over three significant strikes per minute at around a 46 percent clip, and each has the power to end the fight with a single punch.

I’m betting this fight will be far more competitive than people think it will be.

Now that current strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha have squashed their beef -- for now -- Rose Namajunas and Karolina Kowalkiewicz have an excellent opportunity to step into the division’s No. 1 contender spot.

Kowalkiewicz is an action-fighter with a perfect 9-0 record who has landed an absurd 185 significant strikes in her two UFC fights. Conversely, Namajunas has won three straight since a title loss to Carla Esparza to cap their season of The Ultimate Fighter and the diversity in her striking may be the best in the division.

Like many of the women’s bouts lately, this has Fight of the Night written all over it.

Two of UFC’s toughest and most game fighters of all time square off when Matt Brown and Jake Ellenberger meet at UFC 201.

Brown and Ellenberger are a combined 2-6 over their last eight fights, so both need a win come Saturday night. Desperately. A victory for Ellenberger over the ninth-ranked Brown could help him jump back into the 170-pound top 15, while a loss could see Brown fall out of the rankings completely. A win for “The Immortal,” however, could propel him toward one final title run.

Nikita Krylov is slowly, but surely, establishing himself as one of the premier fighters in the light heavyweight division. He’s yet to see the judges or the third round in four UFC fights and has hardly been touched in the Octagon.

He’ll face some stiff competition in Ed Herman, however. “Short Fuse” jumped from middleweight to light heavyweight for his last fight, where he put on a clinic against Tim Boetsch en route to a second-round knockout.

With a combined 39 finishes on their record, Krylov vs. Herman should be nothing short of fireworks.

Ian McCall has been on the sidelines so long, his photo on the UFC 201 promo still features him wearing shorts with non-Reebok sponsors on them. McCall has fought just twice since 2014, so his return is welcome to a division that is very top heavy at the moment. Despite his inactivity, he’s maintained his top-five ranking and will look to re-enter the title conversation with a strong performance against Scoggins.

Scoggins has bounced back well since losing two of his three fights in 2014. Since then, he’s scored solid wins over Josh Sampo and Ray Borg and seems poised to crack the top 10 with a win on Saturday.