by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
MICHAEL BISPING VS. CHRIS LEBEN
Ultimate Fighter season three winner and hometown hero Michael Bisping faces off against season one bad boy Chris Leben. Bisping is coming off a stoppage victory over Jason Day at UFC 85 while Leben hasn’t seen action since UFC 82 where he stopped Alessio Sakara with strikes.
These two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 85 but Leben ran into some legal troubles that prevented him from fighting. This should be an all out brawl between two strikers that should have the fans on the edge of their seats.
The size and strength advantage will go to the much bigger Bisping, who will look to dictate the pace of the fight with powerful strikes on his feet. Leben has shown his tendency for brawling but it would be smart for him to take the fight to the ground, where he can prevent the dangerous Bisping from getting into his groove.
If Leben chooses to keep the fight on standing, it will only be a matter of time before he gets caught with a shot that puts him down. Although he has shown that he can bang, Leben has shown that he leaves himself open during exchanges. Once that happens expect Bisping to catch him with a big shot that puts him out of the fight.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
KEITH JARDINE VS. BRANDON VERA
Ultimate Fighter season two participant Keith Jardine takes on heavyweight turned light heavyweight prospect Brandon Vera. Jardine looks to rebound after a quick knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84, while Vera took a lackluster decision over Reese Andy at UFC Fight Night 14.
Jardine needs to get the fight to the ground; he hasn’t fared too well against strikers that are aggressive, as he’s been knocked out twice in quick fashion. On the ground, he needs to smother Vera and not give any space to work for submissions or sweeps. Vera will look to keep the fight standing where he can use his striking technique to finish Jardine.
Vera had a lackluster showing in his light heavyweight debut but that could be attributed to the weight cut and various nagging injuries that he had going into the fight. He will be aggressive from the onset and will catch Jardine as he charges in, finishing him off with strikes.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
RAMEAU THIERRY SOKOUDJOU VS. LUIS CANE
Team Quest light heavyweight Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou takes on Brazilian striking specialist Luis Cane. Both fighters are coming off wins; Sokoudjou defeated Pride veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 84, while Cane knocked out Jason Lambert at UFC 85.
Sokoudjou was considered to be one of the brightest prospects in Mixed Martial Arts after bursting onto the scene with two impressive knockouts over top ten fighters in Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. Cane had a setback in his UFC debut, losing by disqualification to James Irwin but rebounded with an impressive win.
Cane has the edge on their feet with his aggressive nature and technique, while Sokoudjou enjoys a size and strength advantage. The key to this match-up will be how each fighter reacts if the fight hits the ground.
Out of all the fights on the card, this has the biggest potential for an upset, as Cane will no doubt bring the fight to Sokoudjou. Look for Cane to overwhelm Sokoudjou standing and stop him with strikes in stunning fashion.
MARCUS DAVIS VS. PAUL KELLY
Former Golden Gloves champion Marcus Davis returns to the U.K. to take on Wolfslair welterweight prospect Paul Kelly. The “Irish Hand Grenade” is coming off a disappointing decision loss to Mike Swick at UFC 85, while Kelly won an exciting decision over Paul Taylor at UFC 80.
This is an interesting fight as both fighters are popular among fans for their exciting style of fighting. Expect Davis to be a bit more aggressive as he tries to secure a victory and get back on the winning track.
Davis has the advantage standing with his technique but Kelly has shown that he can take a punch and dish out his own punishment too. On the ground, an edge goes to Kelly who used a solid strategy of ground and pound to beat Taylor earlier this year.
These two are going to go at it on the feet but as the fight wears on, Kelly will realize that he won’t be able to out strike Davis and will take the fight to the ground. From there, he’ll use the same strategy that he used against Paul Taylor to win a decision victory.
CHRIS LYTLE VS. PAUL TAYLOR
Longtime mixed martial arts veteran Chris Lytle takes on British kickboxing specialist Paul Taylor. Taylor comes off a much needed decision victory over Jess Liaudin at UFC 85, while Lytle comes off a decision loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 86.
Both fighters always bring the action and fans should expect nothing less as this fight will be quick and exciting. Neither fighter can afford a loss, so both fighters will more then likely go all out in order to get the victory.
Lytle has the edge both on the feet and on the ground, as this seems to be a very bad style match-up for Taylor, who hasn’t shown much on the ground. Taylor will be outgunned by Lytle on their feet despite usually have a striking advantage over his opponents.
These two will bang it out on the feet but Lytle will take the fight to the ground and will lock on a submission late in the opening round to get back into the win column.
AKIHIRO GONO VS. DAN HARDY
Eccentric Pride veteran Akihiro Gono takes on UFC newcomer Dan Hardy. Both fighters are no strangers to the international scene and this fight could produce some fireworks. Gono has the edge in experience and in technique but Hardy is a pure brawler who pressures his opponents into making mistakes. Expect Gono to slow the pace of the fight down and outwork Hardy with smart striking and on the ground, neutralizing an aggressive Hardy to win a decision.
JIM MILLER VS. DAVID BARON
East coast lightweight prospect Jim Miller takes on French lightweight David Baron. Both fighters are making their UFC debut. Miller is probably one the best prospects yet to fight in the UFC and there is a lot of hype behind him. Baron is a crafty veteran, coming off of the biggest win of his career over Pride veteran Hayato “Mach” Sakurai. Miller will fight intelligently as he’ll take Baron down and work with submissions and strikes, not allowing Baron execute en route to a decision victory.
SHANE CARWIN VS. NEIL WAIN
Former NCAA wrestler Shane Carwin faces off with British slugger Neil Wain. Carwin is one of the brightest prospects in the heavyweight division as he gradually builds up his resume in hopes for a shot at the title further down the road. Wain was scheduled to make his debut at UFC 85 but was forced him to pull out of his fight due to a broken nose. The Brit is now healthy and ready to go. Expect Carwin to overpower Wain and simply finish him with powerful strikes early in the fight.
JESS LIAUDIN VS. DAVID BIELKHEDEN
In a clash of European lightweights, Frenchman Jess Liaudin takes on Brazilian Top Team’s David Bielkheden. The two fighters are coming off losses and are hoping that a drop to lightweight will help them rebound. Both fighters are well versed on the ground but Bielkheden has more technique and that will be the difference. Expect the “Scandinavian Lion” to outwork Liaudin on the ground and win a decision.
PER ECKLUND VS. SAMMY SCHIAVO
Swedish lightweight Per Ecklund takes on French lightweight Sammy Schiavo in the second Sweden/France battle. Both fighters lost in their UFC debuts and will look to get back in the win column. Ecklund was unable to get the fight to the ground against Stout and he paid for it. Schiavo has the edge on the feet but Ecklund should be able to take him down and take a decision.
SAM STOUT VS. TERRY ETIM
Canadian striker Sam Stout faces off with lanky British lightweight Terry Etim. Both fighters are coming off of a loss to Rich Clementi respectively, making this fight more interesting. Stout has the advantage on their feet and is known for his heavy hands. Conversely, Etim’s strength lies in his ground game but has shown poor takedown defense. Stout should be able to keep the fight standing and attack on the inside to win a decision over the young Etim.