First and Worst: Week of March 4 to March 10, 2013

By Adam Martin

First and Worst is an ongoing series for, where every week Adam will make his pick for the best and worst newly-announced fight of the past week (Monday to Sunday). If you’d like to see any additions to this series, hit him up on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.

First: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt, UFC 160

My pick for best fight announced this past week is Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt, a battle of top heavyweights that goes down at May’s UFC 160 event. This is a huge fight in regards to the heavyweight title picture, with the winner of this bout being the frontrunner to earn a title shot against the winner of that night’s main event between champ Cain Velasquez and challenger Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.

Although I have seen a lot of criticism of this matchup, I honestly don’t see where it’s coming from. I’m guessing a lot of people are looking at Hunt’s mediocre 9-7 record in MMA and saying he shouldn’t belong anywhere near the title picture, but the people that point to his record as the reason he doesn’t belong in the cage with dos Santos fail to mention four of those losses came to Fedor Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi, Josh Barnett, and Alistair Overeem, some of the best fighters ever.

Yes, Hunt did go on a bad run, a very bad run in fact, culminating with a knockout loss to middleweight Melvin Manhoef and a submission defeat to Sean McCorkle. But since then, he’s really turned his career around, finishing Stefan Struve, Cheick Kongo, and Chris Tuchscherer, and defeating Ben Rothwell by decision, to crack the heavyweight top 10.

Is dos Santos a big step up from Struve? He sure is. But don’t forget that Hunt is an injury replacement for Overeem. The UFC needed someone to fill the co-main event slot at UFC 160, and coming off his crushing defeat of Struve at UFC on FUEL TV 8, Hunt’s star power has never been greater. That’s why the UFC needed to throw Hunt into this fight now, because they have to take advantage of his popularity while he’s still winning.

And the best thing is, Hunt vs. dos Santos should, stylistically, be an exciting slugfest. These are the two premier strikers in the UFC heavyweight division going up against one another, so I find it hard to believe that there are some fans (and media members, too) that don’t want to see this fight.

Even if the fight resembles dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson, with Hunt acting like a punching bag for 15 minutes, the fans will go home happy. And who knows, maybe Hunt can land that big bomb on dos Santos’ chin and shock the world.

Crazier things have happened, and I’m willing to give this fight a chance. You heard it here first – this will be the “Fight of the Night” at UFC 160.

Worst: Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama, UFC on FOX 7

My pick for worst fight announced this past week is Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama, a flyweight matchup that takes place at April’s UFC on FOX 7 event.

Now, before I get into why I don’t like the fight let me start by saying that I do believe Uyenoyama is one of the most underrated flyweights in the world. The 33-year-old may be only 8-3 in his career, but he’s 2-0 in the UFC with a submission finish over Phil Harris and a decision win over Yorifumu “KID” Yamamoto. So, no doubt he earned a step up in competition.

But a bout against Benavidez, the No. 2 ranked flyweight in the world?

Sure, Benavidez lost to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in his attempt to capture the belt at UFC 152, but don’t forget that was a close fight, with the judges ruling it a split decision in favour of Johnson. Just a few more techniques landed and that fight could have easily gone the other way for Benavidez.

Benavidez is coming off a victory over Ian McCall at UFC 156, a victory that many believed would earn him a second go-around with Johnson. But Benavidez wanted another fight, and Johnson was instead matched up with John Moraga.

Still, couldn’t the UFC have found someone else for Benavidez to fight than Uyenoyama? I mean, Uyenoyama is a solid grappler and submission artist, but against a top-flight wrestler like Benavidez he will have an extremely difficult time taking the fight to the ground, and in the standup department, Benavidez is miles ahead of him.

This fight says more about the UFC’s lack of depth in their flyweight division than anything else. There are only like 10 guys in the division, and when that is the case, you’re going to have mismatches like these.

Expect a pretty decisive victory for Benavidez in this one, as I would be shocked if Uyenoyama pulled a rabbit out of his hat at UFC on FOX 7 and scored the upset.


UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot II is due to take place on May 25, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 160 will be.

UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez is due to take place on April 20, 2013 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC on Fox 7 will be.

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