UFC 194 was already a fantastic card with three of the best, most intriguing bouts the organization could put together at the top of the event. The main event sees Jose Aldo defending his featherweight title against #1 contender Conor McGregor in perhaps the most hotly anticipated bout of the year. Joining that title fight on the card will be Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold vying for Weidman’s middleweight title. This bout could very well headline any other event the UFC has booked. Just underneath that, the next middleweight title challenger will be determined, as ‘Jacare’ Souza and Yoel Romero have been re-booked for the December blockbuster. With just those three fights, UFC 194 would be approaching card of the year status, but there were three more additions recently that sent the card into overdrive. First, featherweight contender Max Holloway will do his best to make everyone forget the strange ending to his bout with Charles Oliveira, and he’ll have an extremely willing dance partner in Jeremy Stephens. Holloway has now won seven straight since dropping a unanimous decision to Conor McGregor back in 2013, and continues to make solid improvements with each outing. Stephens started his featherweight campaign 3-0 before setbacks against Cub Swanson and Charles Oliveira, but rebounded in stunning fashion with a third round flying knee stoppage of Dennis Bermudez at UFC 189. His durability will make for an incredible bout with Holloway… unless somebody’s esophagus decides to jump out of their throat. Another addition is in the welterweight division, and it’s a bout fans have been shaping up for quite some time. If Demian Maia isn’t the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player to make his way over to MMA, then he’s definitely in the top five. He has continued to show those skills over his 21-fight UFC tenure, earning a middleweight title shot along the way, and most recently dominating one of the hottest fighters in the UFC, Neil Magny, in a performance that reminded everyone just how good he is. Maia should have another opportunity against a willing grappler in Gunnar Nelson, who first came to prominence with his success in the absolute division at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappling championships. He has carried those skills over to the UFC, winning five of his six bouts thus far, with four coming by way of submission. The UFC 194 juggernaut didn’t stop there, as the final booking of the day saw former WEC champion and one of the biggest stars south of 155, Urijah Faber, get his latest assignment. After a 40-fight career, Faber finally lost his first bout that wasn’t for a title in his last outing, but it’s hard to fault anyone for dropping a bout to Frankie Edgar after moving up a weight class. All told, Faber’s UFC and WEC career has seen him pick up 17 wins against just 7 losses, with a whopping 14 finishes amongst those victories. It may be tough for Faber to finish the extremely durable Frankie Saenz at UFC 194, but if anyone can find a way, it may be ‘The California Kid.’ Saenz has been one of the biggest surprises in the UFC over the past year, winning all three of his bouts, including a massive upset of Iuri Alcantara back in February. Faber will be by far the biggest fight of his career, but Saenz seems to have a way to make every bout competitive. It almost seems a shame to post this so far down the article, but it turns out that all Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit did was swap places with Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. It was also announced late last night that the welterweight title bout would be moved to UFC 195 on January 2nd, as Lawler didn’t require surgery for his thumb injury. This is a massive boost to the year-end card, as Lawler/Condit is about as exciting as an MMA bout can be, and it will be for the highest stakes possible.
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