Five For Fighting – August’s Best Upcoming Bouts

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July was by far the best month of 2014 where MMA is concerned. Two fight of the year candidates in Weidman vs Machida and Brown vs Lawler went down in the 7th month as well as one of the greatest comebacks ever from Cathal Pendred against Mike King. Add to that UFC Dublin, arguably the greatest live MMA event to ever take place, and August has a lot to live up to.

It was always going to be a losing battle but the fact half of the month has practically no elite MMA whatsoever makes it a no contest. Still, the latter part of the month rescues it with some nice action both in Ireland and overseas. As I do every month, let me pick out my favourite quintet of fights for the 31 days ahead to whet your appetite.

5 – TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao – UFC 177, August 30th

Usually, a rematch of a fight which was so clearly won by one man wouldn’t make it near this list – but this one is a little different. In the first fight, TJ Dillashaw put on the single greatest performance in the history of MMA. He was perfect from first bell until he finished the fight late in the fifth round. Nothing can be taken away from him. But, Renan Barao did look off. In the lead up to the fight UFC President Dana White spoke at nauseam about how Barao was unbeaten for so long and didn’t have a bad day in all that time. Well that changed in his last fight. The question is, was it just a bad day or is Dillashaw categorically a better fighter who had his number and will beat him handily again? Most people fall on the side favouring Dillashaw and that is more than likely correct. But what if it isn’t? Last time out, Dillashaw fought to his max and Barao posed no threat. What if, this time, Barao comes out all guns blazing and both men put on the high level of fight they are capable of? That is enough for me to get excited about. If Dillashaw and Barao both perform we could be in for a real classic.

4 – Francis Carmont vs Thales Leites – UFC Fight Night 49, August 23rd

At first look this may seem like a boring, run of the mill, borderline top-10 middleweight fight; and for a lot of people it probably is. The thing is, this one could be a magnificent battle on the ground. If you’re into that, this fight should excite you. Carmont is a dominating wrestler who is happy to blanket his opponent for fifteen minutes. Leites is a grappler at heart also – jiu jitsu is his game. The Brazilian is a submission whizz and will be looking to tie up Carmont at every possible integer. There is always the possibility that two grapplers cancel each other out and have a low level kickboxing match but I’m willing to wager this one goes to the ground. If it does, it’ll be a grapplers delight.

3 – Jordan Mein vs Brandon Thatch – UFC Fight Night 49, August 23rd

This one should be fun. When you look at this match up the brain immediately computes that Thatch is the prospect coming in against the experienced veteran Mein to work his way back into the welterweight division following a long injury lay off. And it is, based on experience alone. Many may be shocked to learn, though, that Thatch, at 29, is five years older than 24 year old Mein. That may be a matter of semantics but the fact is that Mein is a legitimate prospect in the division too. Since losing his second career fight Thatch has gone on to get ten consecutive finishes in exponentially impressive fashion. Against Mein, who has twenty two career finishes, that makes for a ferocious battle. Neither man has any problem swinging for the ropes early and, as long as it lasts, this one should be a rapid shoot out.

2 – Danny Castillo vs. Tony Ferguson – UFC 177, August 30th

In Danny Castillo you have a fighter who has worked incredibly hard to mould himself into a genuine well rounded lightweight following the UFC’s purchase of WEC. He was always a talented wrestler but has improved his all around game and added, most notably, a powerful striking attack. TUF champion Ferguson is similarly well rounded and improves with every outing in a relatively young MMA career. This is another one that is guaranteed to be fun. Power strikes are the favourite weapon of both men on the feet while Ferguson will attack hard from the guard if Castillo decides to use his wrestling to get the fight to the mat. If someone lands cleanly, though, this one could be over early.

1 – Philip Mulpeter v Jake Bostwick – CWFC 70, August 16th

Irish MMA has been on a real roll lately and that should continue when Cage Warriors visits Dublin again this month. The card is a strong one with a myriad of prospects, but Mulpeter vs Bostwick is the stand out piece of matchmaking. Mulpeter is another fighter out of John Kavanagh’s SBG gym in Dublin and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of teammates Conor McGregor, Chris Fields and Cathal Pendred by fighting his way to the top of the CWFC ranks. The Laoisman has been impressive of late and would be 3-0 only for a highly questionable decision loss to John Maguire last year. Bostwick will be up there with the toughest tests of his career to date. The Englishman is a powerhouse wrestler and striker who has gone unbeaten in eight fights spanning almost five years. Expect this one to be three rounds of excitement and madness (starting with Bostwick’s trademark Bane walkout). Mulpeter, returning to welterweight after a stint at lightweight, has some of the best kicks in the promotion and will be looking to attack Bostwick early. As he always does, Bostwick will take what comes and return heavy fire. Add in the raucous Irish crowd and it makes for an unmissable clash.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma