The current lineup for the Saturday, Sept. 14 event at Rogers Arena is really good, with only eight fights announced and more to come.Donald Cerrone fights are can’t-miss affairs.The man with the most wins in UFC history (23 and counting), despite spending a little over three years running on a parallel track in the WEC before matriculating to the Octagon, also owns the record for the most post-fight bonuses (18), most stoppage victories (16) and the most knockdowns (20) in UFC history. The guy everyone simply refers to as “Cowboy” is guaranteed excitement every time he steps into the cage.Justin Gaethje is allergic to being in a boring fight.Through his first five UFC appearances, the former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion has garnered six post-fight bonuses, including four Fight of the Night awards. His first two trips into the Octagon produced the two best fights of 2017 and he followed those up with another gem against Dustin Poirier in the Arizona desert. Since then, the 30-year-old has registered back-to-back first-round stoppage wins over James Vick and Edson Barboza, both of which ended in spectacular fashion.Having either competitor matched up against another elite lightweight in the main event of the UFC’s return to Vancouver in September would be reason enough to rush out and buy tickets, but they’re facing each other in a fight that garnered a 100-per-cent approval rating within the MMA community the second it was announced, which is saying something, because fight fans aren’t exactly the most agreeable, non-argumentative types.While this isn’t the superstar championship fight fans in the Lower Mainland have misguidedly held out hope would pass through Rogers Arena ever since the UFC first came to town in 2010, it is inarguably one of the very best fights on the calendar between now and October, and anyone that tries to suggest otherwise is simply trying to be contradictory.Cerrone’s last appearance — a matchup against Tony Ferguson that was hastily thrown together and added to the main card at UFC 238 in June — was heralded as “The People’s Main Event,” a designation meant to acknowledge that while not the actual headliner, it was the fight people were most looking forward to on that balmy Saturday night in Chicago. This bout is its sequel, not in the sense that it will further the storylines established there, but more in the “crank the volume up to 11 and don’t worry so much about the story” way that Hollywood churns out follow-ups to surprise hits like The Hangover — except, unlike The Hangover Part II, this isn’t going to suck.
Justin Gaethje looks on during a fight in Detroit last year.
Gregory Shamus /
The lightweight headliners have a combined 44 stoppage victories between them and whenever they do happen to go the distance, they produce Fight of the Year-caliber performances. This is the type of highly anticipated, guaranteed crackerjack of a contest that would be worth the price of admission even if it were surrounded by sub-par matchups or no additional fights at all, but that’s not the case.Although still under construction, the current lineup for the Saturday, Sept. 14 event at Rogers Arena is really good, and with only eight fights announced, there is room for between three and five more quality pairings to be added to the card.There are already two heavyweight and light heavyweight fights scheduled to take place, all of which carry a high probability of ending inside the distance, while the two middleweight bouts slated to take place will go a long way to helping establish the pecking order in the lower third of the rankings in the 185-pound weight class.On Tuesday, the UFC announced that undefeated bantamweight Cole Smith of Squamish will compete on the biggest stage in the sport, at home, in front of friends and family, when he takes on fellow newcomer Miles Johns.And there is still more to come.This was already shaping up as a tremendous card for the UFC’s return to Vancouver and now it’s headlined by a sure-fire, can’t-miss, guaranteed-action matchup between two of the most reliably entertaining athletes in the sport.Individually, Cerrone and Gaethje are about as bankable as there is when it comes to getting your money’s worth when they are set to compete — and they’re fighting each other.You do not want to miss this.