There's still a few weeks left in May, but when June comes to the Northeast MMA scene, whoa mama, hide yo' women. There is literally an event going down every weekend, from the UFC to ROC to CFFC to the UCC to newcomer Rockout Knockout, which means there are a ton of bouts that promise so much awesomeness, your eyes will bleed when you watch them (uh, in a good way). Which ones look great and have me so excited that I ate my pet hamster? Glad you asked!
-Gregor Gracie vs. Ryan Machan, Rockout Knockout, 6/2/12 - Allegedly, RoKo will be some sort of rock concert/MMA show hybrid, with the fights going on between sets. Okay, sure, whatever. What matters to me is that Gracie is returning to the cage, because seriously, the dude has been killing it lately. His recent wins have come in One FC in Singapore and at some event in Brazil, and before that he was dominant at the Brick City Fighting Championship in Newark - all of which tells me that Gracie has really started to put it all together and come into his own. Machan is an ultra-experienced MFC vet and should be a solid test, but people are going to show up to this Asbury Park event for Gracie, and I doubt the Brazilian will disappoint.
-Brian Kelleher vs. Ryan Vaccaro, Rockout Knockout, 6/2/12 - After a brief derailment it seems the Kelleher train is back on track, and why not? The kid is tougher than a two-dollar steak. Vaccaro is back on the winning track as well, so this contest should be hotly contested, with Kelleher trying to pound Vaccaro to bits and Vaccaro trying to grind him into putty.
-Rene Nazare vs. Jean Silva, UCC, 6/8/12 - Nazare may have met with defeat in his Bellator run, but he's still an accomplished ass-kicker. Silva, meanwhile, was the boss in the UK promotion Cage Rage, so what we'll get for sure is some high-level MMA on display. God bless the resurrected UCC for making this match-up.
-James Jenkins vs. Marlon Moraes, ROC, 6/15/12 - Jenkins has been on a steady climb up the rankings since he transitioned from a fruitful amateur career to turn pro, and now comes his toughest test yet: Armory fighter (and Edson Barboza training partner) Moraes. Moraes is an animal when it comes to Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu, and was totally kicking WEC vet Deividas Taurosevicius' ass before DT caught him in a choke. Can Jenkins pull it off? Dunno, but from what I understand there's some sort of belt on the line, so the stakes are high. Either way, it's going to be exciting.
-Ed Gordon vs. Carlos Brooks, ROC, 6/15/12 - Serra/Longo rising star Gordon (a.k.a. "Truck") has been racking up wins lately, and now we get to see how he'll do against the extremely dangerous striker Brooks. Both men are coming off KO victories at the last ROC, so this one might be a case study in who lands first.
-Julio Arce vs. Carl Deaton, ROC, 6/15/12 - There are a few stars-in-waiting percolating in the amateur leagues, but none are as ready and eagerly-anticipated as Arce, who has amassed a spotless 11-0 ammy record as well as a championship belt in Muay Thai. Deaton is some dude out of Michigan with solid submission skills, and he probably has no idea what's in store for him when he steps into the cage against the TSMMA fighter. But I do. I saw this before when killer amateur Al Iaquinta turned pro (the same Iaquinta now kicking ass on TUF). Deaton is in for a fight.
-Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch, UFC on Fox 4, 6/22/12 - The older Miller brother ventures down into welterweight territory to face Brazilian Funch, who has yet to find glory in the Octagon but who did well in the New England circuit. But come on, we all know the New Jersey circuit is tougher than the New England circuit, and Miller ruled the Garden State like a benevolent King Joffrey from the Game of Thrones. Miller is going to behead Funch, and have Funch's head displayed on a pike on the castle walls. But in a nice way.
-Jimy Hettes vs. Steven Siler, UFC on Fox 4, 6/22/12 - Hettes made jiu-jitsu black belt Nam Phan look like a white belt in his last UFC outing, while Siler has been wrecking people with the last name Miller (the Florida-based Millers, not the New Jersey-based ones). Can Hettes throw Siler down and work him over, or will Siler beat the judoka up on the feet? I'm banking on the former, but either permutation will likely provide thrills.
-Brad Desir vs. Emmanuel Walo, CFFC, 6/30/12 - Desir has been through the fire and emerged TKOing all those who stood before him - a fact that makes him exciting as fuck and dangerous as hell. I don't know much about Walo except that he's got some wins as an amateur and a win as a pro, but I don't think that's going to help him once the referee says "Go!". Desir is a killer and a star in the making; he's going to blast Walo until Walo has fallen and can't get up.
Underground Bonus: UCL champ Kenny Rivera should be defending his belt against an as-yet-to-be-named opponent. Sorry, can't tell you when.