Five reasons to watch UFC 121

Do you really need a list of reasons to tune into this weekend’s UFC event? UFC 121, which is being headlined by a heavyweight title fight between the baddest man on the planet, Brock Lesnar, and challenger Cain Velasquez, should provide fans with more than enough motivation to watch.

If you absolutely need a little more convincing, surprisingly the rest of the card is just as impressive as the main event. Title implications, potential divisional shakeups and last hurrahs are scattered throughout the 11-bout card. You have to go back to UFC 100 or 101 to find an event that is comparatively stacked from top to bottom. Here are five more reasons to shell out $50 for the pay-per-view or to sponge off of a buddy who buys it.

Tito Ortiz’s protégé will put him into retirement: Matt Hamill, Tito Ortiz’ opponent at UFC 121, was the UFC legend’s first pick on the third season of TUF. Ortiz hasn’t scored a victory in the octagon since 2006. He’s had to deal with injuries, including back surgery, and personal problems over the last few years. Although he was Hamill’s mentor and coach in the early phases the Ohioan’s career, it’s hard to see Ortiz making a significant comeback against the standout wrestler who he helped to develop.

Can a Strikeforce champ make it in the UFC? Jake Shields has been tearing it up in EliteXC and Strikeforce over the last three years. He’s on a fourteen-fight win streak and hasn’t lost a bout in almost six years. The list of key victories is long and includes wins over Dan Henderson, Carlos Condit, and Paul Daley. The former Strikeforce welterweight champ left the organization (belt still in hand) in order to fight for the highly regarded UFC. Will he be able to compete with the UFC’s 170-pounders? Dana White seems to think so. White’s even indicated that Shields could get a shot at the belt with a win over his UFC 121 opponent, Martin Kampmann. There’s certainly a lot at stake for a fighter making his debut for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Cain Velasquez is primed to shock the world: Although heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar is the favorite in this title bout, Velasquez has the qualifications and the attributes to make this a very compelling and competitive fight. Some have argued that Velasquez is the perfect size to bring down the mammoth heavyweight. Not too big, not too small. He’s quick on his feet and well-rounded as a mixed martial artist. If Velasquez, who has college level wrestling experience, can keep the fight on the feet, he’ll have the advantage from a striking perspective.

Brendan Schaub looks to make waves in the heavyweight division: Schaub recently spoke to ESPNDallas.com and indicated that a win over UFC vet Gabriel Gonzaga will place him among the elite in the heavyweight division. Gonzaga is a top-ten heavyweight and is an enormous leap in competition for the Colorado native, but despite the name recognition that Gonzaga has with fans, his last significant win over an upper-echelon heavyweight was his head-kick KO over Mirko Cro Cop three years ago. It’s been a mixed bag for the Brazilian ever since. Gonzaga needs a win in order to avoid losing three out of the last four and possibly being let go from the UFC. A win by Schaub over the reeling Gonzaga could shake up the division a bit.

It’s win-or-go-home for Patrick Cote and Tom Lawlor: Both fighters are on two-fight losing streaks, and one more loss could have them exiting the octagon on a permanent basis. The pressure is on for both fighters to put on career-saving performances.

UFC 121 will take place on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card will broadcast live on PPV, whereas the two preliminary bouts will air on Spike TV.

Main Card

  • Champ Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez (for heavyweight title)

  • Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields

  • Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago

  • Matt Hamill vs. Tito Ortiz

  • Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Brendan Schaub

Spike TV Card

Preliminary Card (not televised)

  • Sam Stout vs. Paul Taylor

  • Mike Guymon vs. Daniel Roberts

  • Chris Camozzi vs. Dongi Yang

  • Jon Madsen vs. Gilbert Yvel