Vitor Belfort. Photo by Esther Lin/AllElbows.com.
February of this year will eventually be out done by March, which will potentially serve as the busiest month of major MMA in history. Until then, there's a lot to enjoy this month.
Pivotal bouts are scheduled for every division, the UFC middleweight title will be up for grabs and Strikeforce and Bellator will each kick off a handful of anticipated tournaments.
After the jump, we'll take a look at the top ten must-see fights for February.
1. Anderson SIlva vs. Vitor Belfort: Silva has faced them all - jiu-jitsu champions, dominant wrestlers, heavy hitters. Almost no one can handle Silva's dangerous striking game. Will Belfort buck the trend? An uber-talented kickboxer in his own right, Belfort tries for his second UFC title against Silva at UFC 126 on Feb 5.
2. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva: Emelianenko's first fight since falling to Fabricio Werdum will answer many questions about the Russian and his future as one of the sport's premiere heavyweights. Meanwhile, "Bigfoot" takes a tremendous jump up in competition. The two kick off Strikeforce's heavyweight grand prix on Feb 12.
3. B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch: Fitch was surely disappointed in being booked against Jake Ellenberger and passed up for another title shot. He received a bit of a gift in the form of B.J. Penn, who will attempt to ride momentum from his quick win over Matt Hughes to stability at 170 lbs. An intriguing tactical battle goes down, down under at UFC 127 on Feb 27.
4. Ryan Bader vs. Jon Jones: One of the star-studded matchups on UFC 126's main card pits the light heavyweight division's top two prospects against each other. Jones vows that his flashy style will give Bader fits while "Darth" believes his wrestling and overall toughness will be enough.
5. Rich Franklin vs. Forrest Griffin: Franklin's run into towards becoming one of the elite at 205 lbs continues at UFC 126. Griffin has not fought since defeating Tito Ortiz in November 2009. Forrest has already said that the long layoff has affected him greatly, but Franklin has his a huge size disadvantage on his hands regardless.
6. Michihiro Omigawa vs. Chad Mendes: Another anticipated bout at UFC 126, Omigawa returns to the UFC as a world-ranked featherweight and an undefeated Mendes has been tapped to welcome him. Expect a fast-paced grappling clinic as judoka clashes with the powerhouse wrestler. The winner could be in line to face the winner of Jose Aldo's UFC featherweight title defense against Mark Hominick in April.
7. Jussier da Silva vs. Ian McCall: With a shot at Ulysses Gomez likely on the line, da Silva, the world's undisputed top flyweight, returns to North America for a second time at Tachi Palace Fights 8 on Feb 17 to face WEC veteran Ian McCall. "Formiga" aced his U.S. debut in December, decisioning Danny Martinez, another one-time WEC competitor.
8. Roxanne Modafferri vs. Rosi Sexton: February's top female fight involves Modaferri and Sexton, who will headline Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 40 in North London, England on Feb 26. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two long-time veterans.
9. Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Demetrious Johnson: Yamamoto's long-awaited stateside debut will come against another slick wrestler in Johnson. Fans have been petitioning for the meeting to be televised at some point during UFC 126, likely causing both fighters to think about going for a quick finish.
10. Andrei Arlovski vs. Sergei Kharitonov: The other Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix bout pits a pair of knockout artists against each other. Both are in need of an impressive performance. Kharitonov has fought in MMA sparingly over the past couple of years while Arlovski is mired inside a three-fight losing streak.
Next entry: MMA on Tap January Fighter Rankings