The hype is swirling around the two championship bouts on this weekend’s UFC 168 event but aside from those there are several interesting bouts that you should take notice of. A win to close out 2013 could propel some of these athletes further up the ladder in their respective divisions while a loss could have some adding changes to their New Year’s resolutions. Let’s take a look at three fights that may have been flying under the radar.
Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao
Diego Brandao is on a three fight winning streak but at times hasn’t been the most exciting to watch. After winning The Ultimate Fighter 14 he has went 3-1 inside the Octagon but this fight with Dustin Poirier will be the biggest of his career. Brandao has been known to take some damage in his fights but that is something he will need to avoid. Poirier is very aggressive and like Brandao is very slick with submissions. A win for Brandao puts a stamp that he is a contender in the featherweight division. A victory from Poirier should put him right back into the conversation of those who can make a run at the championship.
Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall
If there was ever a make or break fight, this is it. After such a successful run on The Ultimate Fighter, Hall has laid an egg. He has back to back losses but no one is counting his talent out. Chris Leben is on his last leg. He has persevered through so much since we first met him at the original The Ultimate Fighter. If he wants to stay in the UFC he has to go out and win. I hope both men come out guns blazing and one can move on to another fight. I expect to see them both going for broke and fighting like their job depends on it.
John Howard vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
When we see Howard take on Bahadurzada we should see some a great battle. These two kick off the FOX Sports 1 portion of the event. Siyar Bahadurzada hasn’t fought since March so people may forget that he holds massive power in his hands. He fell short back in March to Dong Hyun Kim but before that he was on a seven fight winning streak that included six finishes. He holds one knockout of the night honor, which happened in his UFC debut. John Howard returned to the company in Boston and was able to take a split decision win over Uriah Hall. The man they call “Doomsday” also has a knockout of the night to his credit as well as a fight of the night. I think someone is going to sleep in this fight and it will be one to watch.