The UFC middleweight, heavyweight and women's bantamweight divisions will all have crucial match-ups this Saturday night (Dec. 28, 2013) at UFC 168. The event will air live on pay-per-view (and closed-circuit television) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and feature two title fights in what is almost an interchangeable main event slot.
The headlining bout features Anderson Silva in a rematch six months after his first encounter with the man who took his belt at UFC 162, Chris Weidman. If "The Spider" is victorious Saturday, many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will call for a trilogy, but according to promotion president Dana White at Thursday's press conference, the man who will fight for the UFC's 185-pound strap next will be Vitor Belfort.
"Vitor Belfort has earned the right to face the winner of Saturday's main event. He's next in line. No doubt about it."
2013 was good to the 36-year-old "Phenom," who racked up three victories via vicious KO or TKO. Belfort's title shot was all but a formality and now it will be interesting to see whether he gets to exact revenge against Silva, or try to bring the undefeated "All-American" back down to earth.
Miesha Tate will challenge Ronda Rousey (again) for "Rowdy's" title. While the rivalry leading up to the scrap was just about the only entertaining thing to watch on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), another lady was originally penciled in to fight Rousey following her victory over Liz Carmouche at UFC 157.
The undefeated Cat Zingano beat Tate in a crazy back-and-forth affair at TUF 17 Finale and was subsequently scheduled to coach opposite Rousey on the reality show, but was relegated to the sidelines after suffering a knee injury. Now following stem-cell treatments, White said during his scrum (watch it here) that "Alpha" will face the winner of Saturday's co-main event.
"She's doing good and hopefully she stays healthy and we can get her back by summer. She's the number one, she's numero uno."
Whether Zingano and Rousey fight in a battle of unbeatens or she and Tate fight again, both bouts are something to look forward to.
Fabricio Werdum has two potential opponents entering the Octagon Saturday, when Josh Barnett looks to propel himself above Travis Browne in UFC's heavyweight division rankings. With Cain Velasquez out with an injury, clear-cut number one contender Werdum has said he intends to wait for the champion to heal up. White isn't too fond of that strategy, citing past instances of guys waiting for title shots like Rashad Evans not working out so well.
If all goes according to plan, Werdum will fight Saturday's winner, creating a foe for Velasquez when healthy from shoulder surgery.
“We met with him a couple weeks ago, I think he understood where we were on that thing and we wanted him to fight.
Three days before 2014 begins, and three of the nine weight classes already have set plans. If that's not being proactive, I don't know what is.