by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the East Coast on Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.


“The Ultimate Fighter” season two winner Rashad Evans faces off with season three winner Michael Bisping. Evans has a 10-0-1 record and trains out of Jackson’s Submission Fighting with Keith Jardine. Bisping has a 14-0 record and trains at the Wolfslair Academy in England.

Evans comes off a disappointing draw with former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz at UFC 73, while Bisping won a controversial decision over fellow season three cast member Matt Hamill at UFC 75.

This will be the first time that two Ultimate Fighter winners meet in the Octagon. Evans has looked absolutely amazing in the Octagon, improving each time out as he continues on towards a possible title shot. Since training with Jackson’s Submission Fighting, he has become a more well-rounded fighter, a contrast to the one-dimensional wrestler that won the season two.

Bisping rolled through the season three competition; destroying the competition en route to becoming the winner. Since then, he has gone 3-0 in the UFC, but not without some trouble. Both Eric Schafer and Elvis Sinosic gave Bisping problems in their fights and many believe that Hamill should of won the decision over Bisping.

Evans is an excellent wrestler and has evolved to become a decent striker, while Bisping has shown his willingness to brawl. If Bisping’s last fight is any indication of what is to come then he is going to have some major problems with Evans. Evans is a much better wrestler and is much better on the feet than Hamill. Bisping needs to catch Evans off guard on the feet, getting him out of his game plan, if wants any chance to win. Evans should use the strategy that Hamill used against Bisping, but unlike Hamill, he should be able to keep Bisping down to ground and pound out a decision.

Prediction: Rashad Evans by decision.


Brazilian striking sensation Thiago Silva takes on UFC brawler Houston Alexander. Silva has an 11-0 record and trains out of the Chute Boxe Academy with Jorge Patino. Alexander has an 8-1 record and trains out of Nebraska.

Silva comes off a hard fought stoppage victory over Tomasz Drawl at UFC 75, while Alexander TKO’d Italian boxer Alessio Sakara at the same show.

Both these guys love to throw leather as seen in their past UFC appearances, but it could come down to who is the better ground fighter. Silva is an excellent striker, but also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which he may want use against Alexander.

Alexander is a tough as nails brawler, who made an immediate impact upon debuting in the UFC by knocking out Keith Jardine. He has a disciplined training regimen that gets him prepared and he is going to need it against Silva.

Both guys are going to throw leather in this fight, but there are two distinct differences in their striking as Alexander packs tons of power in his strikes, while Silva is the more technical striker. Silva’s biggest problem is that he lacks any real power behind his strikes and getting into slugfest might be a mistake that loses him the fight. Once Silva feels Alexander’s power, expect him to take it to the ground and use his skills to submit Alexander in a mild upset.

Prediction: Thiago Silva by submission in the second round.


Judoka Karo Parisyan takes on Pride veteran Ryo Chonan. Parisyan has a 17-5 record and trains at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Ryo Chonan has a 14-7 record in MMA and trains out of Team M.A.D. with Kazuhiro Nakamura.

Parisyan comes off a dominant decision victory over Josh Burkman at UFC 71, while Chonan stopped Seo Do Wong at DEEP: Yamagata.

Parisyan is one of the top welterweights in the world, but since the division is so deep, it might be a while before he gets a shot at the UFC welterweight belt. He is well-rounded and has worked hard on his conditioning, which has been an issue with him in the past.

Chonan will be making both his UFC and welterweight debuts on Saturday night when he takes on Parisyan. He was one of Pride’s top middleweights, but it soon became apparent that his size hindered him against some of the bigger middleweights. Chonan is a solid striker and has shown in the past that he has excellent ground skills.

Most people are expecting Parisyan to run right threw Chonan, but it’s going to be a closer fight than most expect. Chonan could give Parisyan some problems on the feet and has solid enough ground prowess to be able to get back to his feet. Parisyan will want to keep this fight grounded as much as possible. Even though Chonan will impress in his welterweight debut, Parisyan should be able to edge out a close decision.

Prediction: Karo Parisyan by decision.


Miletich lightweight sensation Spencer Fisher takes on local lightweight fighter Frankie Edgar. Fisher has a 20-3 record and trains out of Miletich Martial Arts with Jens Pulver. Edgar has a 7-0 record and trains out of the Rhino Fight Team in New Jersey.

Fisher comes off an exciting decision victory over Sam Stout at UFC Fight Night 10, while Edgar comes scored a stoppage of grappling wizard Mark Bocek at UFC 73.

This has the makings of “fight of the night” as it has been with most lightweight fights this year in the UFC. The winner of this fight will put himself in excellent position for a future shot at the lightweight championship next year.

Fisher has proven that he is one of the better lightweight strikers in the UFC. He will want to keep the fight on the feet because Edgar is an absolute beast on the ground with his excellent wrestling skills. Fisher is at the top of the heap in the division and with a win here, he could possibly be in line for a title shot.

Edgar has been training at American Kickboxing Academy to hone his striking skills and work on his jiu-jitsu with Dave Camarillo. He is one the better wrestlers in the UFC and with a win here, he will get a little more recognition. It’s going to be a back and forth battle between these two, but Edgar’s wrestling prowess will be the deciding factor in the fight as he should squeak out a close decision.

Prediction: Frankie Edgar by decision.


Ultimate Fighter season three finalist Ed Herman takes on submission specialist Joe Doerksen. Herman has a 13-5 record and trains out of Team Quest with Chael Sonnen. Doerksen has a 39-10 record and trains out of Team Extreme with Jeremy Horn.

Herman comes off a submission victory over Scott Smith at UFC 72, while Doerksen suffered a stoppage loss to Paulo Filho at World Extreme Cagefighting 29.

This is a rematch of a fight that happened several years ago in Sportfight with Doerksen submitting Herman with a triangle choke. Herman had a rough start in the UFC, losing his first two fights, but has since won his last two fights by submission, albeit against lesser competition. Herman’s biggest strength is his solid wrestling background, but he has shown in the past that he has issues with submission fighters.

Doerksen has been one of the more consistent fighters in MMA, only faltering against the best in the world. He will look to utilize his ground skills to repeat the same outcome as in their first fight.

Not much has changed since their first meeting; except that Herman is now fighting in the UFC. This fight will play out much like their first encounter with Doerksen ending the fight with a late submission.

Prediction: Joe Doerksen by submission in the third round.


American Top Team fighter Thiago Alves takes on Ultimate Fighter season four finalist Chris Lytle. Alves has a 12-3 record and trains out of ATT with Marcus Aurelio. Lytle has a 24-14-5 record and trains out of Integrated Fighting Academy with Jason Godsey.

Alves comes off a stoppage victory over Kuniyoshi Hironaka at UFC Fight Night 11, while Lytle submitted Matt Brown at United Fight League.

Alves is starting to rebuild momentum after his suspension and a win over Lytle will put him back on the right track. Lytle lost back-to-back fights, but has since then strung together a pair of wins over lesser competition.

Both fighters have similar strengths, but the younger Alves seems to be on the rise and he will control the pace of the fight en route to a decision.

Prediction: Thiago Alves by decision


Ultimate Fighter season five veteran Joe Lauzon takes on undefeated Midwest fighter Jason Reinhardt. Lauzon has a 15-3 record and trains with B.J. Penn in Hawaii. Reinhardt has an 18-0 record and trains out of Illinois.

Lauzon comes off a submission victory over Brandon Melendez in the season five finale, while Reinhardt stopped Theodore Reynol at Courage Fighting Championships 8.

Lauzon has been improving his ground game since making the move to train with B.J. Penn. Reinhardt finally makes his UFC debut after injuries have forced him to pull out of previously scheduled bouts. Although Reinhardt has an impressive record, none of his competition has been anything to write home about.

Expect Lauzon to overwhelm the debuting Reinhardt and stop him within the distance.

Prediction: Joe Lauzon by TKO in the first round.


ZST PG Champion and Pride veteran Marcus Aurelio takes on Midwest striker Luke Caudillo. Aurelio has a 14-5 record and trains out of ATT with Thiago Alves. Caudillo has a 13-8 record and trains out of Colorado with Duane “Bang” Ludwig.

Aurelio comes off a decision loss to Clay Guida at UFC 74, while Caudillo recently dropped a decision to Nate Mohr at UFC Fight Night 10.

Aurelio is on a three fight-losing streak, but he is a much better fighter than what his recent record indicates. He submitted Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi and has beaten respected fighters like Masakazu Imanari and Rich Clementi with his ground skills.

Caudillo is primarily a striker, but he needs to improve his ground game in order to compete at the UFC level. Aurelio will end his losing streak here, submitting Caudillo early in the fight to get his first UFC victory.

Prediction: Marcus Aurelio by submission in the first round.


Pride veteran Akihiro Gono makes his UFC debut against local fighter Tamden McCrory. Gono has a 27-12-7 record and trains out of Team Grabaka with Kazuo Misaki. McCrory has an 8-0 record and trains out of New York.

Gono comes off a decision victory over Yuki Kondo at Pride Shockwave 2006, while McCrory submitted Pete Spratt in his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 10.

Gono moves down to welterweight to make his UFC debut after finding success in Pride. He is known for his solid ground game and technical striking skills. McCrory is a young and up-and-coming fighter with a bright future.

This is a big step up in competition for McCrory, as he has never faced a fighter the caliber of Gono. Look for Gono to wear down McCrory with his technical striking and frustrate him with his excellent defense en route to a decision.

Prediction: Akihiro Gono by decision.