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15 Fights to Watch in January

 

When: January 12, 10:00pm

Who: IBF/WBC World Female Super Middleweight Championships: Claressa Shields (c) (4-0) vs. Tori Nelson (17-0-3)

Where: ShoBox, Turning Stone Resort, Verona, New York

How To Watch: Showtime

Why: Shields, the most successful American Olympic boxer, male or female, of all-time, makes her first of, presumably man, world title defenses against an undefeated Tori Nelson. Sure, Shields will win and probably easily, but it’s worth watching perhaps the best female boxer in the world at work. Dammit, why are Cecilia Braekhus and Katie Taylor so much lighter?!

 

 

When: January 14, 10:00pm

Who: Featherweight Bout: Doo Ho Choi (14-2) vs. Jeremy Stephens (26-14)

Where: UFC Fight Night: Choi vs. Stevens, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri

How To Watch: Fox Sports 1

Why: Choi is returning after over a year away following his 2016 Fight of the Year with Cub Swanson. Will he have ring rust? We’ll see against an always-willing scrapper in Jeremy Stephens.

 

 

When: January 14, 10:00pm

Who: Featherweight Bout: Darren Elkins (23-5) vs. Michael Johnson (17-12)

Where: UFC Fight Night: Choi vs. Stevens, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri

How To Watch: Fox Sports 1

Why: Speaking of Fights of the Year, Johnson had perhaps 2017’s best scrap with Justin Gaethje. Elkins is a fantastic opponent for him, he’s always down for a tangle, is extremely resilient, and will fight to the last bell whether he’s on top of being crushed.

 

 

When: January 19, 6:30pm

Who: Fight To Win Black Belt Welterweight Championship: Benson Henderson vs. JT Torres

Where: Fight To Win Pro 59, Aviator Sports Complex, Brooklyn, New York

How To Watch: FloGrappling

Why: These two were supposed to square off at Fight To Win in November, but Bendo had to withdraw due to injury. Now, however, Henderson gets to really test his grappling mettle against a real superstar of the mat, Jonathan Torres.

 

 

When: January 20, 10:00pm

Who: UFC Heavyweight Championship: Stipe Miocic (c) (17-2) vs. Francis Ngannou (11-1)

Where: UFC 220, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

How To Watch: $59.99 Pay-Per-View

Why: The dominant heavyweight champion that dispatched Werdum, Overeem, and JDS in the first round against the most exciting and terrifying heavyweight contender in years.

 

 

When: January 20, 10:00pm

Who: UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Cormier (c) (19-1) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (15-1)

Where: UFC 220, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

How To Watch: $59.99 Pay-Per-View

Why: In other terrifying challenger news, Volkan damned Oezdemir. Misha Cirkunov, 28 seconds. Jimi Manuwa, 42 seconds. The Light Heavyweight division has needed some new blood for years, and Oezdemir is just that.

 

 

When: January 20, 9:00pm

Who: Bellator Welterweight Championship: Douglas Lima (c) (29-6) vs. Rory MacDonald (19-4)

Where: Bellator 192, The Forum, Inglewood, California

How To Watch: Paramount Network

Why: It’s goddamned RoryMac against Douglas Lima. There will be, according to my notes, punches. Lots of them, and blood.

 

 

When: January 20, 9:00pm

Who: Lightweight Bout: Goiti Yamauchi (22-3) vs. Michael Chandler (16-4)

Where: Bellator 192, The Forum, Inglewood, California

How To Watch: Paramount Network

Why: Chandler, Bellator’s longtime flag-bearer at lightweight, takes on the ultra-entertaining submission whiz Yamauchi, who is 3-0 in Bellator since moving up to lightweight. Chandler lost his title due to injury, and you have to guess that the winner gets the next shot.

 

 

When: January 20, 9:00pm

Who: IBF World Welterweight Championship: Errol Spence Jr. (c) (22-0) vs. Lamont Peterson (35-3-1)

Where: Showtime Championship Boxing, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

How To Watch: Showtime

Why: Lamont vacated his WBA Welterweight title to have a crack at Spence. As for Errol, it’s a good challenge for the young champion to face a scrappy veteran who can use some savvy to pose some different challenges. Good for all involved!

 

 

When: January 20, 9:00pm

Who: IBF World Lightweight Championship: Robert Easter Jr. (c) (20-0) vs. Javier Fortuna (33-1-1)

Where: Showtime Championship Boxing, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

How To Watch: Showtime

Why: Easter has a claim towards being the best lightweight in the world, and Fortuna, while not on his level, but still a top-10 135lber, has actually (gasp!) earned his title shot through defeating quality foes and good prospects!

 

 

When: January 27, 6:00pm

Who: Krush 70kg Championship: Jordan Pikeur (c) (41-7-1) vs. Yutaro Yamauchi (28-17-5)

Where: Krush 84, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

How To Watch: N/A

Why: It’s a shallow month for kickboxing, so Krush has to fill the void. No, Yamauchi isn’t the best possibly challenger for the Dutchmen, but it’s a good showcase for Pikeur.

 

 

When: January 27, 10:00pm

Who: Middleweight Bout: Derek Brunson (18-5) vs. Ronaldo Souza (24-5)

Where: UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Jacare II, Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina

How To Watch: FOX

Why: Very surprised that the UFC is throwing a II on the end of this matchup since their first encounter came in Strikeforce (NEVER DIE!). Nevertheless, this is a good matchup for both of these awesome fighters at this point in their careers. Jacare needs a bounceback after his beatdown at the hands of Bobby Knuckles, and Brunson needs to keep his head of steam after getting dusted twice last year.

 

 

When: January 27

Who: WBC/WBO World Cruiserweight Championships: Mairis Briedis (c) (23-0) vs. Oleksandr Usyk (c) (13-0)

Where: Arena Riga, Riga, Latvia

How To Watch: WorldBoxingSuperSeries.com

Why: It’s the return of the World Boxing Super Series, ladies and gents! How we’re going to watch it is still up for debate, it appears as far as US television goes.

 

 

When: January 27

Who: WBA World Lightweight Championship: Jorge Linares (c) (43-3) vs. Mercito Gesta (31-1-2)

Where: The Forum, Inglewood, California

How To Watch: HBO

Why: If Easter has a claim to being the best lightweight in the world, then Linares is 1a. The longtime journeyman who finally put it all together and is at the top of his game post-30. If both Easter and and Linares win, we may be looking at a title unification.

 

 

When: January 27

Who: Vacant WBA World Welterweight Championship: Lucas Matthysse (38-4) vs. Tewa Kiram (38-0)

Where: The Forum, Inglewood, California

How To Watch: HBO

Why: Matthysse’s first world title shot in over two years and maybe his last chance, but Kiram is far from a deserving contender. That’s an inflated record if I have ever seen one. 37 of his 38 bouts have been in Thailand and just two fights ago, he fought a boxer making his professional debut. Alas, it’ll be fantastic watching Matthysse battle for a title again, I do loves me the man.