October in with a bang, out with a bang
September, 30, 2011
By Chuck Mindenhall
Ed Mulholland for ESPN.comThe first of several title defenses kicks off Saturday with Dominick Cruz meeting Demetrious Johnson.Fight cards are going off just about every weekend, but the stakes start getting raised as of tomorrow.
How big of a month will October be for the UFC? Four of the available seven belts will be dangled, defended or wrested away, beginning with Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson for the bantamweight strap. There’s never been a calendar month like the one we’re about to encounter (Until November, when Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez fight in front of uncommon hordes on free network television).
On the surface, October looks good enough -- but have you noticed what UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Joe Silva have done here?
They’ve synchronized the fights to appear in chronological order by weight, a sort of casual browsing of its smaller-to-midsize divisions. Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., things get kicked off with the 135-pound belt on the line. Next weekend at UFC 136, the co-main event will pit a 145-pound clash between Jose Aldo and Kenny Florian, followed directly by a 155-pound bout headlining clash between Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar. On Oct. 29, it’s a 170-pound fight between Carlos Condit and Georges St. Pierre.
AP Photo/Eric JamisonWe have lift-off: Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard really kick October off when they meet for the third time.
Coincidence? Of course. Those guys (probably) aren’t bored enough to coordinate that.
Still, it’s a figurative point of interest. Things start small, then get bigger as the month rolls along. In terms of prize volume, it’s the most vulnerable 31-day span in company history for champions, meaning it’s the most opportunistic for hungry undersolds. Only, the guys defending have been particularly invulnerable over the last few years.
Combined, the four defending champs have won 35 and a half fights in a row (the half is Edgar’s, who drew with Gray Maynard in January). The last to lose at all was Edgar, who dropped a 2008 decision to his perma-shadow Maynard. Otherwise, Cruz hasn’t lost since 2007 (Urijah Faber), Aldo since 2006 (Luciano Azevedo) and St. Pierre since 2007. That was the night that Matt Serra momentarily took GSP’s belt, but forever stole away his recklessness. Will anything change?
We’re about to find out. Aside from Anderson Silva -- the valedictorian of the trade -- October is a display of the UFC’s most dominant champions. But that’s how we enter October. How we come out could be a totally different thing.