by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com

Shane Carwin vs.
Gabriel Gonzaga


Highly touted heavyweight prospect Shane Carwin faces the
biggest challenge of his career as he faces off with former UFC heavyweight
title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 96. This is a critical fight for both
fighters. A win for Gonzaga could see him get another chance at a title shot. A
win for Carwin would establish him as one of the best heavyweights in the


Carwin’s advantages in the fight will be his size and brute
power. He has devastating striking and is no slouch when it comes to wrestling,
which will pose a serious problem for Gonzaga. Gonzaga on the other hand will
want to take the fight to the ground where he can impose his jiu-jitsu
superiority on the inexperienced Carwin. Although Gonzaga has several knockouts
on his UFC resume, those come against passive strikers on the feet and Carwin
will be all over him with strikes.


This fight isn’t going the distance. Either Carwin will
finish the fight on the feet or Gonzaga will finish it on the ground. Carwin
needs to pressure Gonzaga while standing, not letting him get settled and
keeping him off balance until he can finish it with strikes. Gonzaga will look
to play it smart and take the fight to the ground, where he can out maneuver
the less experienced Carwin and lock on a submission. Out of all the fights on
Saturday night, this is the one that has the most future implications in the


Matt Hamill vs. Mark


Ultimate Fighter 3 participant Matt Hamill faces off with
two-time NCAA All-American Mark Munoz. This is an interesting fight because
both fighters have a strong wrestling background, which could very well decide
who wins the fight. Another factor in the fight will be who can impose their
will on the other on the feet, being that both fighters come from a similar


Hamill has the edge when it comes to experience in the UFC,
which in some instances has been a factor in the fight because those without
the experience many times succumb to the pressure. At this point in their
careers, Hamill is the better striker based on that fact that he has had more
time to hone his technique. Neither fighter is much of a submission artist, but
Munoz will have the advantage on the ground because he is the better wrestler
of the two.


Munoz has shown in his pair of WEC fights that he has some
serious power in his hands, finishing both fights with devastating strikes.
Hamill also has some power in his hands, but not to the effect that Munoz does.
Hamill’s best chance to win the fight will be to keep it on the feet and stay
on the outside, using his more polished striking to avoid getting caught. Munoz
will look to take the fight to the ground, where he can punish Hamill with
vicious ground and pound. This is the most evenly matched fight of the night,
so don’t be surprised if either fighter wins.


Matt Brown vs. Pete


Ultimate Fighter 6 participant Matt Brown faces off with
Matt Serra trained Pete Sell. Brown has steadily improved since his time on The
Ultimate Fighter, while Sell has reinvented himself by moving down to the
welterweight after fighting bigger guys at middleweight. Both fighters love to
push the pace, so this could turn out to be quite the barnburner.


Brown always brings the fight to his opponent and it won’t
be different this time either. Sell usually likes to bang it out on the feet
and should have a slight advantage because of his size and power. A slight
advantage on the ground would go to Brown, who seems to have a more polished
submission game then Sell, who hasn’t really ever shown much of one.
Conditioning will be a factor in the fight as both fighters will push the pace
of the fight.


Brown will look to keep the distance on the feet, avoiding
Sell’s powerful shots. He’ll look to get the fight on the ground and lock on a
submission. Sell will look to use his size and keep the fight on the feet,
where he can muscle Brown around and land a fight ending blow. However the
fight ends up going, this should be one of the high points of the night.


Gray Maynard vs. Jim


Ultimate Fighter 5 participant Gray Maynard faces off with new
UFC lightweight sensation Jim Miller. This is an important fight for both
fighters because both men are undefeated in the UFC. Another win could get
either fighter in the upper echelon of the UFC lightweight division.

Maynard has shown incredible wrestling ability in his fights
and he uses it to impose his will on his opponents. He is quickly getting
better as a striker, but his wrestling is still his strongest attribute. Miller
has shown that he can bang it out on the feet, but his comfort zone is his
submission game. Whoever can control the fight on the feet will be the one who
has the advantage because he can dictate when it goes to the ground.


Maynard is just a bad style match-up for Miller as he has never
faced anyone with the wrestling ability that Maynard has. Miller’s best chance
will be to catch Maynard off guard on the feet and finish him off with strikes.
Maynard on the other hand will look to take the fight to the ground and punish
Miller with solid ground and pound. Neither fighter is going to back down, so
expect them to go all out for fifteen minutes.


Tamdan McCrory vs.
Ryan Madigan


Northeastern fighter Tamdan McCrory looks to get back on the
winning track as he takes on UFC newcomer Ryan Madigan. Both fighters are
replacements for other fighters that bowed out of the original fight due to
injuries. McCrory should have the advantage on the ground, while Madigan on the
feet with his extensive kickboxing background. McCrory will have an experience
and reach advantage over Madigan. Plain and simple, McCrory will look for the
submission, while Madigan will look for the knockout.


Kendall Grove vs.
Jason Day


Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall Grove takes on Canadian
striker Jason Day. It’s been about nine months since either fighter has seen
action; both should be eager to get back into action. Neither fighter is shy
about banging it out on the feet, but it might be smarter for Grove to take the
fight to the ground where he’ll have the advantage. Day will need to pressure
Grove on the feet and not let up as that seems to be the way to defeat Grove,
while Grove just needs the fight on the ground. A loss for either man could
mean an exit from the UFC in this day and age.


Tim Boetsch vs. Jason


Eastern based wrestling powerhouse Tim Boetsch faces off
with University of Nebraska-Omaha assistant wrestling coach Jason Brilz.
Although both fighters are wrestlers, Boetsch has embraced being a powerful
striker as seen in his UFC appearances. Boetsch will look to keep the fight on
the feet and punish the less talented striker Brilz with heavy punches. Brilz
will look to wrestle Boetsch down to the ground and smoother him to a decision.
The fight comes down to which fighter is the better wrestler and get the fight
to where they want it.


Brandon Vera vs. Mike


Former touted heavyweight prospect Brandon Vera faces off
with Midwest fighter Mike Patt. Both are coming off losses and need a win very
badly to stay afloat in the UFC. Ever since his year off, Vera hasn’t been the
same fighter. A move to light heavyweight hasn’t helped matters much either. He
is the better fighter on the feet and on the ground when it comes to technique,
while Patt seems to be a strong brawling wrestler. If Vera can slow the fight
down then he’ll have the advantage. Patt will need to be all over Vera from the
onset, hoping to catch him off guard.


Aaron Riley vs. Shane


Mixed martial arts veteran Aaron Riley faces off with
Ultimate Fighter 8 participant Shane Nelson. Both are coming off wins in their
last UFC appearances and will look to continue their momentum. Riley is a pure
brawler and if he can lure Nelson into a brawl then he’ll have a distinct
advantage, controlling the pace of the fight. Nelson needs to take the fight to
the ground and avoid getting into a brawl with Riley. Either way, expect the
fight to be a high paced back and forth affair.


Pre-Fight Press Conference


UFC 96 VIDEO: Keith
Jardine Pre-Fight Interview