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CagePotato Presents: The Top 10 Fights to Watch For the Rest of 2015

(via Getty.)

By Chris Huntemann

Summer is winding down, which means we’re in the latter stages of 2015. It also means football season is finally here. But do you know what else it means? There’s still a whole slew of mixed martial arts fights that we have to look forward to, so with that in mind, here are the top 10 fights that you, Potato Nation, should check out or – at the very least – set your DVR to as we wind down the year:

10. Andrei Arlovski vs. Frank Mir (UFC 191 – Sept. 5)

(Countdown to UFC 191: Andrei Arlovski vs Frank Mir, via the UFC.)

Both of these guys are in the midst of a career resurgence – and probably the second or third such resurgence for Mir. Both are also riding multiple-fight win streaks, and the winner of this fight has to be considered the top contender in UFC’s heavyweight division. But given what we’ve seen lately with title shots in the UFC, who knows?

9. Eduardo Dantas vs. Marcos Galvao II (Bellator 144 – Oct. 23)

(Highlights from Dantas vs. Galvao 1, via Bellator.)

Galvao memorably made Joe Warren scream in pain at Bellator 135 earlier this year, securing the bantamweight title in the process. Dantas succumbed to Warren in a previous title fight, but secured another shot after besting Mike Richman at Bellator 137. Oh yeah, Dantas also happens to hold a vicious knockout victory over, you guessed it, Marcos Galvao. Both of these guys can finish their opponent by either knockout or submission, so don’t expect this fight to go to a decision.

8. Daniel Straus vs. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire III (Bellator 145: Vengeance – Nov. 6)

(Straus v. Freire 1, via DailyMotion)

Freire has been a thorn in Straus’ side, already getting the better of him on two separate occasions. Besides his losses to Freire, Straus has been on an absolute tear in Bellator, winning all but one fight. Straus is chomping at the bit for redemption against Freire, and I expect this fight to be teeming with animosity and fireworks.

7. David Branch vs. Teddy Holder (World Series of Fighting 23 – Sept. 18)

(Holder vs. Thiago Silva, WSOF 19.)

Holder emphatically made his presence known in WSOF, stepping in as a last-minute replacement against Thiago Silva and needing all but two minutes to knockout Silva in both men’s organizational debut. Knocking out a dangerous (literally) fighter like Silva in two minutes? I’d say that warrants a title shot. Holder and Branch are squaring off for WSOF’s inaugual light heavyweight title, with Branch boasting an undefeated record in WSOF and getting the best of fighters like Paulo Filho and Yushin Okami. Both guys like to stand and bang, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this fight probably won’t go the distance.

6. Vitor Belfort vs. Dan Henderson III (UFC Fight Night – Nov. 7)

Putting this fight here is more or less a sentimental pick, given the stature of the two guys involved. Hendo showed the world he’s not quite finished yet by brutally knocking out Tim Boetsch in the first round earlier this summer. Belfort was demolished by UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman in his last fight, but had a highlight-reel knockout of Hendo in their previous meeting. These guys are surefire hall of famers and at the latter end of their careers, so you want to catch them while you can. Especially when they’re facing each other.

5. Bellator: Dynamite (Sept. 19)

This is an entire card you should check out, not just one fight. Bellator is partnering with GLORY kickboxing to put on a joint card on the same night. The arena will house both the Bellator cage and GLORY’s kickboxing ring, right next to each other. Simply put, this is a combat sports fan’s wet dream. The Bellator portion of the card will feature a light heavyweight tournament with fighters like Phil Davis and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal. Liam McGeary will defend his light heavyweight title against Tito Ortiz, and Bellator’s Paul Daley will actually compete in a GLORY kickboxing match against Fernando Gonzalez. If you love combat sports, you do not want to miss this event.

4. Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino II (World Series of Fighting 23 – Sept. 18)

(Gaethje vs Palomino 1 highlights, via Youtube)

These two engaged in an absolute war earlier this year. They traded bomb after bomb after bomb and pummeled each other mercilessly. Gaethje scored a third-round TKO victory, but Palomino’s tremendous heart and aggression against Gaethje secured him another chance at the gold. Their first meeting has been one of the less-heralded fights of 2015. But after this sequel, both of these guys should be household names.

3. Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold (UFC 194 – Dec. 12)

(Fan-made trailer for UFC 194, via BrattMamley)

These two are probably the two best middleweight fighters in the world right now. They’ve been circling each other for a while now and after Weidman’s demolition of Belfort and Rockhold running through Lyoto Machida in their previous bouts, the time is now for Weidman and Rockhold to go toe-to-toe for UFC’s middleweight title. These guys are sharing the UFC 194 with Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. While that fight will likely get the lion’s share of the promotion, Weidman/Rockhold has all the making of a classic. Neither man gives an inch and will bring everything they have to the table. This will be a terrific fight to watch.

2. Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (UFC 193 – Nov. 14 TBD)

It may have suffered a slight setback thanks to an unfortunate thumb injury, but simply put, if you like violence, you will enjoy this fight. Both Lawler and Condit enjoy rearranging their opponent’s faces – Lawler with Rory MacDonald, and Condit with Thiago Alves. Expect nothing less than a brutal, bloody, punishing affair with this one. There will be no strategy, no gameplan. If any fight encompasses the saying “Two men enter, one man leaves,” it’s this one. Just sit back, relax and enjoy violence in its purest form with this one.

1. Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor (UFC 194 – Dec. 12)

(Aldo vs. McGregor promo, once again via BrattMamley)

The fight EVERYONE’S talked about. This was supposed to happen at UFC 189 in July, and even had a world tour to go with it. Unfortunately, Aldo had to pull out right before the fight with an injury. McGregor defeated Chad Mendes for the interim featherweight title, and will now face Aldo to determine UFC’s true featherweight champion. The hype surrounding this fight will be off the charts, and it will be almost a full calendar year before the anticipation for this fight really kicked into gear. Aldo and McGregor are the two best featherweights in the world. It is long past time for these two to square off, and it can’t come at a better time than just before the holidays. Merry Christmas to all of us.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also opines on various topics within UFC, Bellator and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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