Welcome to the 13th edition of “All Five Rounds”, our weekly look at some of the most intriguing fighters and upcoming contests in the world of mixed martial arts.
It’s been extremely busy summer, especially in the UFC, and with the next event still a little over one week away, fight fans everywhere have the opportunity to get caught up on some of the most recent developments within the sport.
For those who may be interested in the results from this weekend’s Bellator event, be sure to check out next week’s edition of “All Five Rounds” for some of the highlights from the most notable matchups.
Penn To Make UFC Return
After suffering a convincing defeat at the hands of UFC welterweight contender Rory MacDonald in December of 2012, future Hall of famer and former two-time UFC champion BJ Penn (16-9-2) has been absent from the octagon, attempting to enjoy his retirement.
As is often the case with former champions however, Penn has been drawn back into cage, eager to avenge his previous losses to Frankie Edgar (15-4-1] who defeated Penn on two separate occasions prior to his meeting with MacDonald. Announced earlier in the week, the bout will reportedly take place in April of 2014.
Further adding to the drama between the two former champions, it has also been announced that Penn and Edgar have agreed to participate in the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, the UFC’s reality-based TV show that has become somewhat of a proving ground for fighters of all weight classes during the past decade.
Coaching both middleweights and light heavyweights, the two will oppose each other from outside of the octagon prior to their third meeting in the promotion’s featherweight division.
Having last fought as a welterweight, many were surprised at Penn’s decision to compete at 145 pounds, his fourth official weight class during his lengthy professional career.
With just two appearances as a featherweight, Edgar has yet to establish himself as a legitimate threat at 145 pounds despite his resume and recent victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162. Widely unknown prior to their first meeting in 2010, Edgar put an end to Penn’s reign of dominance over the lightweight division with the win, securing a position for himself as one of MMA’ most popular fighters, constantly armed with his ”never say die” attitude.
Pettis Wants Grant, For Now
Prior to winning the UFC Lightweight Championship from Benson Henderson, current lightweight champ Anthony Pettis (17-2-0) made headlines while lobbying for his title shot which was held in his hometown of Milwaukee. Consistently capable of entertaining the fans inside the octagon, Pettis has also begun to earn a reputation as one of the sport’s most outspoken fighters.
Having said that, it should come as no real surprise that Pettis has been “aggressively pursuing” a bout with top-ranked lightweight contender TJ Grant (21-4), who is currently out of action due to a concussion suffered during training camp this summer, more specifically, a training camp with the sole purpose of preparing for his originally scheduled contest with the current champion.
After various injuries suffered by both Pettis and Grant postponed the meeting on more than one occasion, Pettis now seems determined to take on any and all legitimate threats to his 155 pound crown, an attitude most definitely welcomed by the UFC.
Unfortunately, both Grant and Pettis are injured right now, leaving the specifics of the fight to be determined.
Suffering a “knee sprain” during his win over Henderson, Pettis is expected to miss at least the next seven or eight weeks of action while rehabbing the injury. While Grant’s health has steadily improved since the initial concussion, everyone involved is moving forward with caution due to the potential long-term severity of the issue.
UFC Heading Back to Australia
Having succeeded in their first two attempts to bring the UFC “down under”, the sport’s leading organization will once again deliver some of the company’s most talented athletes to the outback on December 7, 2013.
Scheduled to be held in Brisbane, the event will be headlined by Australian heavyweight Mark Hunt (9-8), who will face hard-hitting Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-5-0), and is anxious to redeem himself after his third-round loss to Junior dos Santos earlier this year.
After dropping his first UFC fight, Hunt went on a tear, winning four straight on his way to becoming one of the division’s most feared knockout artists. With wins over Cheick Kongo, Stefan Struve, and Ben Rothwell to his credit, Hunt has quickly distinguished himself in a somewhat shallow weight class and a win over Silva would undoubtedly be the biggest of his young UFC career.
For Antonio Silva, the matchup against Hunt is a definite step-down in competition, especially considering his last bout in which he was defeated by UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez this past May, his second loss to the current heavyweight king.
In the co-main event, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-8), is set to face James Te Huna (18-6-0), a native of neighboring New Zealand who now fights out of Australia. A talented fighter who was defeated in his last contest by current top 205 pound contender Glover Teixeira during the spring, a win for Te Huna would help to start the aggressive striker back on the path towards an eventual title shot.
For the first time during his storied career, Rua has lost two straight fights and three of his last four trips into the octagon. Defeated by Chael Sonnen last month, Shogun was also beaten by veteran Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson, who will challenge 205 pound champion Jon Jones next week in Toronto.