by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
UFC Light Heavyweight
style='font-family:Arial'>Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
UFC light heavyweight
champion Quinton Jackson makes his second title defense, this time against
Forrest Griffin, the original winner of The Ultimate Fighter.
Neither fighter has seen
action since September of last year with Jackson winning a decision over Dan
Henderson at UFC 75 and Griffin submitting Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 76.
Fans have gotten to know
both fighters over the past several months because of their stints as coaches
on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. Although through most of the
season they were amiable to each other, there were moments where both fighters
were eager to fight one another.
Jackson is known for his
strong boxing and solid wrestling abilities, while Griffin is known for his
scrappiness and his ability to adapt to any situation in a fight. They have had
several months to prepare for each other and should know their opponent’s weaknesses
like the backs of their hands.
Jackson will want to keep
the fight on the feet and use his boxing to tag Griffin with a power shot that
will put him on his back. If the fight isn’t going the way that Jackson wants
it, don’t be surprised to see him take it to the ground and pound on Griffin.
Griffin will need to keep
the distance with kicks and not get into Jackson’s range for an exchange
because Jackson has a technique and power advantage over Griffin on the feet.
On the ground, he needs to keep position and not take too many risks with
submission attempts because Jackson has excellent submission defense.
It’s hard to think that the
fight will go to the distance, as both fighters will be looking for the finish.
For Jackson, he will want to finish it on the feet with a punching combination.
For Griffin, he’ll need to catch Jackson off guard and capitalize on a mistake
made by the champion.
However the fight ends up,
it’s been months in the making and after Saturday night we’ll have a
Patrick Cote vs. Ricardo
In a middleweight title
eliminator, Canadian slugger Patrick Cote takes on former middleweight King of
Pancrase Ricardo Almeida. “(Ricarod Almeida) and Patrick Cote are going to
fight on Saturday night and see who’s next in line for Anderson Silva’s
185-pound title,” href="http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/dailynews.asp?articleid=6631&zoneid=13">said
UFC president Dana White recently.
Cote is currently riding a
four fight winning streak with his last win being a knockout over Drew
McFedries at UFC Fight Night 12, while Almeida came out of retirement to submit
Rob Yundt at UFC 81.
Cote started his UFC career
by going 0-4, but has since then won three in a row in the UFC including a knockout
over Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall Grove, almost earning a shot at the
Almeida was considered to be
one of the better middleweights in the world, but he suddenly retired from MMA
to tend to his academy and family. After several years from being away from the
sport, he returned to prove himself as the best middleweight in the world.
On the feet is where Cote
has the best chance to win the fight, he needs to avoid going to the ground and
keep the fight standing, using his punching power to put Almeida on the ropes.
Cote has shown his ability to take a punch, but his weakness has always been
his ground game, where he hasn’t been able to defend against submissions all
Almeida is a Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu black belt and is one of the more gifted ground fighters in MMA,
notching the majority of his victories by submission. Although he has good
stand-up, Almeida would be better served to take the fight to the ground
instead of playing with fire on the feet in the form of Cote.
The winner of this fight
will be next in line, after Yushin Okami, to fight UFC middleweight champion
Anderson Silva, so both fighters have a little extra motivation to win the
Josh Koscheck vs. Chris
Dynamic Midwest striker
Chris Lytle faces off with former NCAA wrestling champion Josh Koscheck in a
Koscheck stopped submission
specialist Dustin Hazelett with strikes at UFC 82, while Lytle gave UFC
newcomer Kyle Bradley a rude welcoming by knocking him out at UFC 81.
This is an important fight
for both fighters, but for different reasons. For Koscheck, a win will help him
on his journey to get a title shot. For Lytle, a win over Koscheck will make
him relevant in the welterweight division once again.
Koscheck has been one of the
most improved fighters to come off the original Ultimate Fighter. He has vastly
improved his stand-up and no longer looks awkward on his feet. While on the
ground, he has learned submissions and defense. He has improved enough where he
is able to fight wherever the fight goes and not have a problem adjusting.
One of the more consistent
fighters in the UFC has been Chris Lytle, but the only knock on him is that he
has been unable to beat the top tier fighters and get over the hump for a title
shot. Lytle has a good ground game, but lacks a strong wrestling background.
His biggest strength is on the feet, where he has great boxing technique.
Koscheck will test the fight
on the feet, but that might be a mistake against Lytle because of his better
boxing technique. If the fight goes to the ground, look for Koscheck to use his
wrestling and positioning to pound on Lytle.
The key factor in the fight
will be whether or not Lytle will be able to defend against Koscheck’s takedowns
and keep the fight on the feet where he has his best chance to win,
Joe Stevenson vs. Gleison
Ultimate Fighter 2 winner
Joe Stevenson returns to action against Brazilian fighter Gleison Tibau. Both
fighters come off losses and will look to get back on the winning track against
Stevenson failed in his
attempt to become UFC lightweight champion when he was thoroughly beaten by
B.J. Penn at UFC 80, while Tibau lost a decision to Tyson Griffin at UFC 81.
Neither fighter can afford a
loss, especially in the stacked lightweight division, if either of them has
aspirations of challenging for the title in the near future. Whoever loses the
fight will be at a crossroads in their career, as dropping two in a row in the
UFC isn’t something you want to do if they wish to stay on the roster.
Neither fighter is primarily
known for their striking abilities, but the difference in this fight could very
well be who can dictate the pace of the fight on the feet. They both have solid
ground games and work more or less the same style of ground fighting, which is
to overpower their opponent and lock on a submission after wearing them down.
Tibau will be the stronger
fighter of the two. That will be a huge factor because if he is able to
outmuscle Stevenson, then he will have the edge in the fight. Stevenson on the
other hand needs to stay off the bottom and not let Tibau utilize his size
This will be one of the
better fights of the night, as these two have too much in the crowded 155-pound
Las Vegas based wrestler
Tyson Griffin takes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Marcus Aurelio. A win for
either fighter boosts them one step closer to a title shot.
Aurelio made short work of
Midwest lightweight Ryan Roberts at UFC Fight Night 13, while Griffin won a
decision over Gleison Tibau at UFC 81.
These two were set to meet
last year, but those plans changed and now they finally get a chance to throw
down with a lot on the line. Both are ground fighters, but one is a wrestler
and the other a submission fighter.
Each has average striking
and neither is too well known for being a great fighter on the feet. Griffin
will look to use his wrestling to out position Aurelio from the top and keep
him from getting anything going from the bottom. On the other hand, Aurelio
needs to stay on top and work submissions from there because he hasn’t been
very successful in the past against wrestlers.
These two will fight at a
fast and exciting pace and could end up being the fight of the night, like many
lightweights are accustomed to. Whoever wins the fight will put himself in line
for a possible title shot sometime in the next year, as the winner would have
put together an impressive resume.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs.
Former UFC heavyweight title
challenger Gabriel Gonzaga takes on wrestler Justin McCully at UFC 86. This is
a must win for Gonzaga, who has dropped two in a row and another loss would
likely see his exit from the UFC. McCully hasn’t fought in over a year since
winning his UFC debut and will look to continue his winning ways.
Plain and simple, the
fighter who is able to end up on top of the other will more than likely win the
fight because neither fights well off their backs and both prefer to work from
Cole Miller vs. Jorge
American Top Team
lightweight Cole Miller takes on fellow grappler Jorge Gurgel. Miller is a
young prospect that has a bright future, but Gurgel is on the other end of the
spectrum. Miller is the better striker of the two. Both possess strong
submission games with Gurgel being far more experienced, while Miller is more
dynamic. Gurgel has an advantage in wrestling and needs to exploit that,
staying on top to work for a decision or else he will be outworked by the
Melvin Guillard vs.
Southern fighter Melvin
Guillard faces off with German kickboxer Dennis Siver. Both fighters are coming
off losses and need a win to stay afloat in the UFC. Although he has displayed
amazing hand speed with his boxing, it might be in Guillard’s best interest to
take the fight to the ground, as Siver’s expertise is on the feet and he could
put Guillard out if given a chance. Though it’s against his nature, Guillard
might want to play it safe and take Siver down and work for a decision to get
the win. Either way it’s a big fight for both fighters; expect it to be fought
in that manner.
Justin Buchholz vs. Corey
Former ICON Sport
lightweight champion Justin Buchholz gets a second crack in the UFC against
touted prospect Corey Hill. Buchholz will need to exploit Hill’s weakness,
which will be in the clinch and on the ground where his skills are still
catching up to his potential. Hill needs to use his reach and keep Buchholz on
the outside, using knees and punching combinations to frustrate him. This is do
or die for Buchholz, who needs a win to stay in the UFC while Hill is more of a
project and can afford a loss.