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Friday, November 2, 2012
Aldo-Edgar, HOF cred, and what to watch

By Josh Gross

Jose Aldo
Jose Aldo's mix of speed, accuracy and power make him an early favorite against Frankie Edgar.
Here are five things about the week in mixed martial arts that stand out to me.

Aldo-Edgar back on

Reaction was muted on the news that Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar were signed to fight Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas. The featherweight title fight had to be rebooted after Aldo was forced off UFC 153 following a motorcycle accident, one of many big bouts lost to injury over the past few months.

I'm really looking forward to the fight. Aldo is incredibly talented, but hasn't been asked to reveal his true potential yet. Edgar seems capable of at least pushing the Brazilian champion to places he's never been, and for that reason, among many others, Feb. 2 is circled on the calendar.

Zuffa obviously feels strongly enough about the contest to have it headline one of the promoter's biggest dates of the year. It was one thing for Aldo-Edgar to be set in Brazil, where the champion can draw no matter whom he fights. But for the featherweight contest to reset as a major Las Vegas event, well that says plenty about the future of the division. Some will view Aldo-Edgar as the first of a potential string of "super fights." I don't know if it can be successfully sold this way, but I'm guessing that's how UFC will package the bout.

As for an early prediction, I'm leaning Aldo's way. Speed, accuracy and power, plus he could fight at lightweight if he wanted.

Bye, bye, Bonnar

Stephan Bonnar retired this week, and I believe the man will make good on his word.

In announcing his departure from the game, Bonnar told fans all he ever wanted to do was "bring y'all some fun." He lived up to that, no question about it.

How will he be remembered?

During a chat on Wednesday with Brett Okamoto, a question came up about Bonnar's consideration for the UFC Hall of Fame. I put little stock in the UFC HOF because of the way inductions are handled (totally the promoter's call), but it's an interesting question.

Bonnar played an important role in arguably the most important fight in UFC history. He lost to Forrest Griffin, but he brought the fun, y'all. And man, did he bring it. I was cage-side that night and wrote afterward that what we witnessed was the start of something special, a rise of an outlaw sport. And it was that, no question. But does that make Bonnar Hall of Fame worthy? I don't think so. Certainly Griffin-Bonnar 1 will always be commemorated in some fashion by the UFC, but putting Bonnar in the same class as Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Randy Couture and others is a step too far.

Bonnar is getting out at just the right time. He has his wits about him and probably will enjoy broadcasting opportunities. He's good in the booth and can be better if he calls it as he sees it. Bonnar will always have a home in the UFC, that you can bank on.

Update: News broke Friday that Bonnar tested positive for steroids following the Anderson Silva beatdown -- the second time he was popped for anabolics. If nothing else, it's a reminder that I should have mentioned his first positive result since UFC 62 (when he tested positive for boldenone). Thing is, this happens so often it's easy to forget, or gloss over, or I don't know.

Bottom line on this guy, he had one awesome fight that came at the perfect time while a bunch of people watched. Then he didn't do much with the rest of a career that included two positive tests for anabolic steroids.

Don't let the cage door hit you on the way out.

P.S.: Gracie and Shamrock tested positive for steroids, too ... I remember.

Coach Hendo

In case you're not keeping up with TUF news, reported that Chael Sonnen brought in Dan Henderson to serve as an assistant coach. Quite the consolation prize.

Henderson confirmed this week what we already knew. He was planning to fight Jon Jones in February. He could have easily been ready to meet Jones in April. And he would have, had it been offered to him, gladly sat in Sonnen's seat. Hey, maybe Henderson could have offered Sonnen an assistant coaching slot.

Now wouldn't that have been fun?

Watch these guys

The first weekend of November is strong with MMA and offers a bit of everything. Topping my list of things to follow are the fates of three unbeaten prospects: Sergio Pettis, Steve Mocco and Tyrone Spong. True enough, Mocco and Spong haven't had a pro MMA bout yet, but they're still interesting.

Pettis, of course, is younger brother to Anthony, perpetrator of the "Showtime" kick and current UFC lightweight contender. The 19-year-old "Phenom" hasn't lost in five fights (two TKOs due to head kicks, two submissions with different chokes, and a decision).

Pettis meets 4-1 Jimmy "Rabbit" Jones Friday night in Las Vegas on Resurrection Fighting Alliance 4, which also hosts Mocco's debut.

The heavyweight was a powerhouse wrestler, winning the Dan Hodge Trophy in 2005. Google his name and one of the first photos you'll see is of Mocco sporting a shiner. That's the kind of wrestler he was. He made the 2008 Olympic team and finished just out of the medal hunt. Now at the age of 31, Mocco is stepping into the cage. He would seem to have a great temperament for this sort of thing, and we'll have a better idea if 1-0 Tyler Perry is any kind of test.

Spong fights Saturday, also in Las Vegas, on the debut card of World Series of Fighting. He's one of the best kickboxers on the planet, and at the age of 27 is looking for a new challenge. That's MMA. He trained about a year with the Blackzillians, where Spong also doles out plenty of kickboxing advice, before stepping in the cage for the first time. Spong could have signed anywhere, including the UFC, but he chose WSOF because the upstart promotion allowed the Dutchman to remain under contract to kickbox for Glory. For now, MMA is his focus. If he can fend off takedowns and/or play an active offensive guard, watch out.

A look at November

This weekend, as noted, is loaded. RFA and Bellator grace TV sets on Friday night. Saturday, WSOF makes its time-buy debut on NBC Sports Network.

It’s a good start to a serious month, culminating with UFC 154 in Montreal. Georges St-Pierre returns for the first time in forever to take on a real threat, Carlos Condit. That’s the fight everyone will discuss over the next few weeks, though from now until December, when things go absolutely crazy, there’s plenty to watch.

Here are my top five probably-slip-under-the-radar contests to watch.

Wagnney Fabiano vs. Rad Martinez -- Bellator, Hollywood, Fla., Nov. 9: Fabiano is a solid fighter, the best Martinez has faced to this point in his career.

John Lineker vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani -- UFC, Macau, Nov. 10: Both flyweights vie for their 20th win, respectively; and a boost in the UFC’s newest division.

Kenny Garner vs. Guram Gugenishvili -- M-1, St. Petersburg, Russia, Nov. 15: No one could blame you if you skipped this one, yet I’m curious if the hyped Gugenishvili can redeem himself against the crafty American.

Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor -- UFC, Montreal, Nov. 17: Carmont has looked terrific in the Octagon so far, and Lawlor makes for a stylistically pleasing opponent.

Lyman Good vs. Andrey Koreshkov -- Bellator, Mt. Pleasant, Mich., Nov. 30: The welterweight tournament final is legit, as unbeaten Koreshkov takes on a fighter whose only losses are to Rick Hawn and Ben Askren.