May is normally a busy time for mixed martial arts. The weather is nice, people are grilling, and a night full of exciting fights is a fantastic way to spend a lazy Saturday evening. This year doesn’t have as much to offer, at least not on the surface. We normally cap off the end of the month with a big UFC pay-per-view on Memorial Day weekend, but this year we’re getting Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt on a free Fox Sports 1 card. To their credit, UFC 198 a couple of weeks prior looks to be the biggest Brazilian event that they’ve done so far and may be the high point in an otherwise slow month. It has an interesting mix of young and old talent across several weight classes and is capped by a heavyweight title match.
Legacy FC only has one scheduled event for the month and Bellator just lost Josh Thomson vs. Michael Chandler, one of the few intriguing matches it had to offer in May. Invicta FC 17 will start us off with two title fights coming May 7. Mizuki Inoue was recently pulled from the card, but it still offers a couple of title matches, one of which offers some unique consequences. Let's take a look at some of the highlights from the top promotions.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic UFC 198
Fabricio Werdum is kind of like a 265 pound Jose Aldo. Since his return to the UFC in 2011, he’s been close to flawless in most of his performances, but he’s about as marketable as a suit made of angry bees. He tapped Fedor and a Nogueira, he broke Travis Browne’s fists, he knocked out Mark Hunt with a flying knee, and he demolished former champ Cain Velasquez. He’s beaten not just the best in the UFC but some of the best in the world.
Opposing him is Stipe Miocic. If scientists could give a trash compactor fists and a limited vocabulary, Stipe Miocic would be the first person it would challenge for the position of alpha. Much like Mark Hunt Miocic is a hands-heavy fighter, only Miocic has better movement, something that cost Hunt in his fight against Werdum. Ten of Miocic’s fourteen wins come via knockout and he seems focused. Though he lost against former champ Junior dos Santos in 2014, it was a back and forth five round affair that showed he was capable of trading back and forth with the elites of the division.
Lest we forget that ass-whoopin'
Anderson Silva vs. Uriah Hall UFC 198
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Three years ago Anderson Silva was the great untouchable of mma. Now he’s doing mop-up duty between Cyborg’s ritual sacrifice and Jacare vs. Vitor. At this rate he’ll be opening the Fight Pass prelims with Marquardt by 2017. He’s facing Uriah Hall, and of all of the genetic nightmares he could possibly face in middleweight division, Uriah Hall is probably the one he doesn’t want to face the most.
Hall currently has the kind of speed that was used to say Silva has, only whereas Silva’s focused on head movement, feints, and misdirection, Hall has the kind that allows him to throw huge kicks lightning quick and from different angles. This fight once would have felt like an absolute lock for Silva, but today it could go either way. Hall is known for being a fast finisher that fades as the fight progresses, and Silva usually starts slow but picks up once finds his range and rhythm. It could result in a spectacular knockout either way.
Ronaldo Souza vs. Vitor Belfort UFC 198
This may be the first match in mma in which the winner actually rips the still-beating heart from his adversary and feasts upon it to gain the strength of his ancestors. Well, unless Big John is brave enough to remind them that this is a fight and not a buffet. Souza undoubtedly has some of the best jiu-jitsu in the UFC’s middleweight division. He recently suffered a controversial split decision loss to Yoel “How’d you get so swole" Romero, but before that he was riding an eight win streak with five submission victories.
Crocodile "Ronald" Souza - coming to some sports apparel near you
Opposing him is Vitor Belfort, a man whose definition of a takedown is 80 consecutive punches in a three second window of opportunity. Belfort only needs two things for a fight - the power of Christ and the virility of a dozen centaurs. Both fighters are top competitors in the division, and either one would make a much more interesting opponent to current middleweight champ Luke Rockhold than Chris Weidman. Weidman was thoroughly dismantled in their first fight, one in which Weidman was defending champ, but instant title rematches seem to dominate the landscape. Rockhold gave Souza his last loss outside of the UFC and captured the Strikeforce middleweight belt in the process. Belfort, on the other hand, earned a highlight reel KO over Rockhold back in 2013. Expect the winner of this one to get the next shot at the belt.
Livia Renata Souza vs. Angela Hill Invicta FC 17
Livia Renata Souza may be Invicta FC’s best kept secret. She quietly amassed a 7-0 start as a pro before being picked up for a strawweight title fight against then-champ Katja Kankaanpaa. She won the fight with a triangle choke in the fourth and went on to defend in January of this year with a first round TKO. Since the signing of Jessica Aguilar, has the most legitimate claim to the title of best strawweight outside of the UFC.
This is everything.
She’ll be facing a muay thai bad ass and Dhalsim enthusiast in Angela “Overkill” Hill. Hill is a former WKA champion and earned a brief run in the UFC after competing on TUF 20. Her kryptonite seems to be grapplers. Two of her three career losses were submissions to standing rear naked chokes and the third was a decision that went to Tecia Torres. Hill has had two of the best performances of her career since signing to Invicta and provides some needed depth to a division that lost much of its talent when its biggest stars were called up to compete within the UFC. She disposed of Alida Gray with a vicious body knee and put on an entertaining striking clinic en route to a second round KO over Stephanie Eggink. The fight should be a fun clash between an accomplished BJJ black belt and one of the best pure strikers under 135 in womens mma.