In the main event of UFC 195, UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler will defend his title against former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit in a truly fantastic bit of matchmaking. So compelling is this championship clash that it could almost sell a pay-per-view on its own. Yet in the weeks leading up to this January 2nd card, we can probably expect an additional 10-12 fights to be tacked onto the bill.
This week, a few of those fights were announced, and just like the main event that tops the card, they're excellent.
The highest profile of these new bouts is a heavyweight pairing of Stipe Miocic and Andrei Arlovski, who are the UFC's third and fourth ranked heavyweights respectively. The two big men have been penciled in for UFC 195's co-main event, in a bout that is likely to produce a heavyweight number-one-contender. And while this matchup announcement has left Ben Rothwell justifiable cheesed—he was scheduled to fight Miocic in Dublin this weekend, and called for a scrap with Arlovski when that bout fell through—it's actually a great booking between two of the division's most aggressive and athletic fighters. Really, were it not for the Rothwell controversy, it would probably be hailed as an applause-worthy bit of work by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
And that's not where UFC 195's exciting new additions end. Also announced for the card is an intriguing scrap between the UFC's eighth and twelfth ranked welterweights, Stephen Thompson and Neil Magny. Thompson, who is a regular training partner of UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman, will enter the bout on the heels of a blistering, hook-kick knockout of the ever-dangerous Jake Ellenberger. Magny, on the other hand, will walk onto the canvas with a lopsided destruction of Erick Silva in his rear-view, and a strong record of 8-1 in his last 9. Though their styles reside on polar opposite ends of the striking spectrum, both Thompson and Magny are do their best work on the feet, and so we can expect their collision to unfurl primarily in the upright position, with a high chance of a knockout before the final bell rings.
As fun as Thompson and Magny's collision is likely to be, however, it could well be outshone by another recent addition to UFC 195's lineup: a clash of rising welterweight prospects Albert Tumenov and Lorenz Larkin. Russia's Tumenov last appeared earlier this month when he shut the power off on the notoriously sturdy Alan Jouban, extending his record to an awesome 16-2 in the process. Larkin, on the other hand, has found new life as a welterweight after many years as a middleweight, during which time he even managed to defeat Robbie Lawler. A frequent purveyor of spectacle, he's fresh off a pair of TKOs over John Howard and Santiago Ponzinibbio. This bout is an interesting one in the way that it will probably earn the winner a shot at a top-15 opponent. Even more appealing, however, is the likelihood of a fantastic finish. Yes, together, Tumenov and Larkin own a collective 21 knockouts—a strong indication that that's just what we'll get when they mix it up in January.
While it may lack the name-power of UFC 193 and 194, which feature superstars like Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, UFC 195 is quickly growing into a good one. Already, it offers the possibility of one of the greatest welterweight title fights ever. It's also likely to crown our next heavyweight title challenger. And finally, with the inclusions of Thompson vs. Magny and Tumenov vs. Larkin, it's looking like a showcase for some of the fastest rising fighters the welterweight division has to offer. And that, ladies and gentleman, is with just a handful of fights officially announced for the card. As the weeks melt off the calendar, UFC 195 is bound to get even better, and with a little luck, it'll make one hell of a kickoff for a new year of MMA action.