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Opening Round: New Year’s MMA-rathon

If you’re a dedicated fight-fan this morning marks the beginning of an epic journey with more than twelve hours’ worth of MMA on tap tonight between the UFC/DREAM. Factor in the notion Kimbo Slice is boxing this evening too and it’s enough to make an avid enthusiast’s head explode like a New Year’s Eve firework! There are legitimate divisional dances with contendership, or even championships, on the line and some mindless fun to be had including Slice’s bout and the professional wrestling portion of DREAM featuring familiar faces Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett in scripted scraps.

Things kick off at 7:00 PM EST when the preliminary pairings for UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem start on Facebook, then head to Spike TV two hours later, with guaranteed barnburners like Diego Nunes vs. Manny Gamburyan, Anthony Njoukuani vs. Danny Castillo, and Ross Pearson vs. Junior Assuncao. I can also see Luis Ramos vs. Matthew Riddle being good since both men constantly come in the cage to bring it rather than backpedal or “fight not to lose” as it were.

Next up is the main card on PPV at 10:00 PM EST, and though it’s not as stacked as last year’s offering the co-headlining clashes are absolutely fantastic. Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz has the makings of a bonus-winner, maybe even “Fight of the Year” candidate, while Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem pits two of the top heavyweights in MMA against each other with the added bonus of a title-shot on the line. All four of the aforementioned men will be looking for finishes and fearless in finding them.

Shortly after UFC 141 ends at around 1:00 AM EST, DREAM’s traditional New Year’s Eve event starts up on HDNet with approximately nine hours of coverage including two kickboxing clahes and three wrasslin’ match-ups. It’s a win-win, as it gives exhausted fans a few hours to either unwind or take a power nap plus it gives hardcore folks some bonus bouts to break up the MMA action.

As far as the MMA portion of the festivities, DREAM New Year! 2011 is highlighted by a number of widely respected competitors like Megumi Fujii, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki, and Fedor Emelianenko mixing it up in the ring, plus a bout between veterans Hayato Sakurai-Ryo Chonan, a featherweight title-fight involving Hiroyuki Takaya-Takeshi Inoue, and the final two rounds of the promotion’s bantamweight Grand Prix. The lineup is fantastic and perfectly suited for the standard year-end extravaganza from Japan, a “can’t miss” affair for those who can afford to stay up or spare the DVR space. The pyrotechnics and electronic wizardry will be in full force, as will top notch MMA.

Clearly Christmas has come in consecutive weeks once again for people passionate about pugilism. There is something for everyone to love and very little to hate other than the necessity to sleep at some point. Strap on your running shoes and chill your Gatorade, folks, we’ve got a marathon to run starting in about twelve hours!

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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