5 reasons to watch UFC 166

Usually in this rapid-fire rundown of all things awesome on the

next UFC fight card, there is at least one bout that elicits the

Sesame Street reaction: one of these things is not like the others;

one of these things just doesn’t belong.

Not that every fight on the main card of an event has to look

like a 5-Star Classic on paper, but with most everyone already sold

on the main event – especially on pay-per-view shows, given

how many of them have been killer title fights of late – that

one fight becomes a point of contention with fight fans that need

to find something to complain about at all times.

Well good luck trying to do that here.

UFC 166 is stacked from top to bottom, and every fight on the

main card has its own hook that should have you counting down the

hours until Bruce Buffer bellows, “We. Are. LIVE!” at

the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Not convinced? Keep reading up on the five outstanding main card

matches set to hit the Octagon that combine to illustrate why there

is no doubt that you should be watching this event on Saturday


The Rubber Match

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Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos are far and away the two

top heavyweights in the sport today. They’re both 10-1 in the

UFC, and their first two meetings represent the single ticks in

their respective loss columns.

Saturday night they meet for a third time, with the UFC

heavyweight title once again hanging in the balance, and an

abundance of questions waiting to be answered as these dominant

forces collide once again.

Can Velasquez duplicate the 25-minute mauling from UFC 155? Will

“Cigano” connect with another fight-changing bomb that

shuts things down early? Will we see the heavyweight version of the

back-and-forth epic we were just treated to by Jon Jones and

Alexander Gustafsson?

The possibilities are endless, and if you don’t have goose

bumps just thinking about it, there might be something wrong with


The Grudge Match

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While the main event combatants enter the cage with nothing but

the utmost respect for one another, you get the feeling that the

two heavyweights that make up the penultimate fight of the evening

aren’t quite there.

Not even close, actually.

Sure, Daniel Cormier and Roy Nelson have the standard

professional admiration that every fighter has for another man (or

woman) willing to step into the cage to test themselves, but there

is also a healthy dose of animosity between the two, and

they’re about to resolve their differences with their


This isn’t a bitter rivalry in the “Chael Sonnen vs.

Brazil” sense, but the two heavyweight contenders have been

jawing at each other for months, and despite being on seemingly

different career trajectories, “DC” and “Big

Country” are both eager to prove their superiority and

silence the noise coming from the other side of the cage.

The Title Eliminator Match

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Though it hasn’t been specifically designated as such, you

get the feeling that the lightweight pairing between Gilbert

Melendez and Diego Sanchez that serves as the midway point of the

pay-per-view could very well produce the next title challenger in

the 155-pound weight class.

Melendez is returning for the first time since painfully close

split decision loss to Benson Henderson in April, and remains one

of the truly elite competitors in the lightweight division.

Sanchez, meanwhile, sought out the pairing with “El

Nino” in hopes of proving he is once again a championship

player, and seems focused headed into his second fight in his

second run in the lightweight ranks.

Given the shifting landscape of the division – a new

champion, a somewhat unexpected title challenger, no clear

“next in line” contender – it wouldn’t be a

stretch to see the winner of this one elevated to the position

opposite the titleholder next time around.

That possibility alone makes this an intriguing fight, and when

you add in the fact that both Melendez and Sanchez are almost

incapable of being in an uneventful fight, the “I can’t

wait to see it” factor for this one just continues to


The Someone is Going Night-Night Match

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Before you say that Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan is the

“Sesame Street Fight” on the main card, take a look at

the UFC heavyweight division.

While the main event participants man the top two positions, the

rest of the division is in a state of flux. Some of the perennial

contenders are slipping, a couple of new cats are climbing the

divisional ladder, and – believe it or not – the winner

of this one probably lands in the final position in the Top 10.

(Note: this is especially true if/when Daniel Cormier heads to


Now, when you combine that with the fact that these two big boys

are focused on putting one another to sleep in the center of the

Octagon, you’ve got a fight that (1) deserves to be on the

main card of a PPV, and (2) is going to be all kinds of fun to


Additionally, Jordan might actually be the best of the

“former football players turned heavyweight fighters”

on the UFC roster right now, even though he doesn’t get

nearly as much shine as Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione.

The Criminally Underrated Match

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Just save your “Ugh… small guys” lamentations

for another day.

Not only does the UFC deserve a big ol’ High 5 for kicking

off a marquee pay-per-view event with a flyweight contest, but John

Dodson and Darrell Montague are likely to set the Fight of the

Night bar fairly high right out of the gate.

Dodson pushed flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson early in

their championship fight back in January, while Montague has been

one of the best 125-pounders in the sport since before the UFC

brought the division on board. He’s 10-1 over the last four

years and change, with his lone loss coming against “Uncle

Creepy,” Ian McCall.

These two are going to bounce around the cage in a tornado of

kicks and punches and takedowns and elbows and combinations, and

when the dust settles and the fight is over, you’re going to

have absolutely loved it.