The UFC announced several fights next year, including a Heavyweight fight between rising star Stefan Struve and hard hitting Mark Hunt for their March offering in Japan, and a rematch at Bantamweight between Ivan Menjivar and Urijah Faber to be held at UFC 157 on February 23rd. Both are very interesting fights, with potential future title shots on the line. The lines won’t be expected to pop up at the books right away, but both matches deserve an early look.
Urijah Faber is the big draw, as he gives Menjivar a rematch in the big show from their 2006 meeting where Ivan was disqualified for an illegal upkick. The bantamweight division is in motion, as Champion Dominic Cruz is injured again, and interim titleholder Renan Barao has but his belt back in play by signing to fight Michael MacDonald which means the winner of Menjivar-Faber will be in the mix for a title shot.
Faber will likely be the favorite going into the fight, but you may want to keep an eye out for how wide a dog Menjivar is, because Menjivar will have a legitimate shot in this fight. Menjivar is extremely experienced, and he is a very skilled ground fighter with great striking. Faber is a wrestler who has turned to boxing and stand up fighting in his fights, but Menjivar is better on his feet. Menjivar at 135 lbs has losses to top guys as high as at 170 lbs. There is nothing Faber can do that Menjivar has not seen before from a bigger guy.
Struve and Hunt is intriguing as well. Struve handles heavy handed Stipe Miocic in his last outing and showed some power of his own. At nearly 7 foot tall, he presents matchup problems for everyone e faces. His one perceived weakness is his chin, and Hunt will need to test that.
Struve will come in the favorite, as he is the more complete fighter. Also, with a long lead time Struve will be able to create a game plan for Hunt, who will always be a striker first no matter how much he diversifies. I’m going with Struve on this one, because he is the more complete fighter.