by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com

Cain Velasquez vs.
Cheick Kongo


Highly touted heavyweight prospect Cain Velasquez faces off
with French heavyweight slugger Cheick Kongo. This is essentially a number one
contender’s bout for the UFC heavyweight title as there are no real contenders
after next month’s unification bout between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir.


Kongo should have the advantage on the feet, simply because
of his extensive kickboxing background, but one thing that he has lacked is
power in his strikes, as he usually has to put together long combinations to
get the job done. Velasquez has tons of power in his strikes and his technical
striking has improved immensely since he made his UFC debut. On the ground,
Velasquez has the biggest advantage with his wrestling ability, while Kongo isn’t
nearly as skilled on the ground.


This is Velasquez’s biggest test to date and if he can be
successful in the fight he will likely be in line for a shot at the UFC
heavyweight title. The same goes for Kongo. Velasquez should be able to control
the fight at his choosing because of his superior wrestling ability. Velasquez
needs to take Kongo down and pound out a victory with strikes, while Kongo
needs to keep the distance with kicks and avoid the takedown at all costs.


Both fighters know what’s on the line, so expect them to go
for the kill.


Mike Swick vs. Ben


American Kickboxing Academy welterweight Mike Swick faces
off with American Top Team welterweight Ben Saunders. Both fighters are
undefeated in the UFC welterweight division and this fight will do a lot to
determine a possible title challenger sometime later in the year.


Swick has a slight advantage on the feet with his speed and
technical ability, while Saunders has a better rounded striking arsenal with
kicks and knees. The key in the fight could be which fighter is better adapted
to fight on the ground at this point in his career. Neither fighter is known
too much for his ground ability, but both have a more then capable ground game.


For Swick to win the fight, he’ll need to stay on the
outside and attack with combinations, then getting out of the way quickly.
Saunders will look to close the distance and use some dirty boxing, while
incorporating knees in the clinch. If either fighter gets into trouble on the
feet, don’t be too surprised to see either one go for the takedown and work
from the top with ground and pound.


Marcus Davis vs. Dan


Ultimate Fighter 2 participant Marcus Davis faces off with
eccentric British bad boy Dan Hardy. These two, plain and simple, don’t like
each other. Davis is offended by comments made by Hardy in the media calling
him a fake Irishman, which attacks his heritage.


Davis is obviously the more skilled fighter on the feet with
his extensive boxing background, but Hardy is dangerous on the feet simply
because of the power behind his strikes. If the fight hits the ground then both
fighters hold different advantages. Hardy is the better wrestler, while Davis
is the better submission fighter. The fight could very well come down to what
happens on the ground.


Hardy needs to use the same game plan that Mike Swick used
against Davis last year and take him down, where he can work from the top with
ground and pound. Davis will look to keep the fight on the feet and string
together combinations to stop Hardy. This fight won’t make it the full 15 minutes,
as neither fighter is too fond of the other. Expect this one to have a
definitive conclusion.


Spencer Fisher vs.
Caol Uno


Miletich Fighting Systems lightweight Spencer Fisher faces
off with Japanese MMA legend Caol Uno. This is an important fight for both
fighters. For Fisher, he would get a win over a legend, while Uno would get a
win over a relevant fighter in the UFC in marking his return after nearly six
years away.


Uno has the distinct advantage on the ground, in terms of both
wrestling and submissions. Fisher is obviously the better striker of the two
and he must be aggressive on the feet in order to exploit Uno’s weakness.
Another thing that the fight could come down to is conditioning, as the pace of
the fight is sure to be a quick one. The fighter with better conditioning will
have the edge.


Uno will look to get the fight on ground quickly, where he
can overwhelm Fisher with technique and catch him after Fisher makes a mistake.
If Fisher wants to win the fight then he’ll need to keep the distance and
attack with combinations, staying out of range for a takedown. Don’t be
surprised if the fight turns out to be the best of the night.


Mirko Cro Cop vs. Mustapha


Pride Openweight Champion Mirko "Cro Cop"
Filipovic takes on British wrestler Mustapha Al-Turk. Both fighters are coming
off losses in their last UFC appearances and will be looking to get back on the
winning track here. A loss for either could mean a closed door to a UFC return
for the time being.


Cro Cop will obviously have the advantage on the feet
because of his extensive kickboxing background and his ability to end the fight
at any instant with one strike. If the fight goes to the ground then neither
has much of an advantage over the other, as both seem to be rather equal on the
ground. Al-Turk is best suited as a wrestler, but Cro Cop negates that with his
ability to sprawl and get back up to his feet.


All Cro Cop has to do is defend Al-Turk’s takedowns and it
will only be a matter of time before he ends the fight with a single strike.
Al-Turk’s takedowns don’t seem to be all that impressive for a wrestler and can
be defended easily, as long the other fighter has a decent sprawl, like Cro Cop
does. Don’t expect the fight to make it to the end of the first round.


Terry Etim vs. Justin


British lightweight sensation Terry Etim faces off with
Alaskan lightweight Justin Buchholz. These two were originally scheduled to
meet at UFC 95, but a staph infection forced Buchholz out of the fight. Etim
has the advantage when it comes to technical striking, while Buchholz has the
edge in power. If the fight goes to the ground then Buchholz has the advantage
in wrestling and submissions. Neither fighter has seen the judges’ scorecards
all that often and don’t expect that to happen in this fight either.


Dennis Siver vs. Dale


German lightweight striker Denis Siver faces off with
American lightweight Dale Hartt. Siver will be fighting in front of his home
crowd and will look to even his UFC record. Hartt has been training with Greg
Jackson in preparation for this fight and it should payoff. Siver will look to
keep the fight on the feet and finish with strikes, while Hartt needs to get
the fight to the ground and exploit Siver’s lack of a ground game. Expect this one
to have the crowd on the edge of their seats.


Paul Taylor vs. Peter


British striking specialist Paul Taylor faces off with local
German fighter Peter Sobotta. Taylor has shown in his past UFC bouts that he is
more than willing to trade shots. Sobotta will have the full support of the
rowdy German crowd in this fight. Taylor is the better striker of the two and
needs to keep the fight on the feet to score the victory. Sobotta will want the
fight on the ground to use his submission technique to overwhelm Taylor. Don’t
expect the fight to go to the distance.


Paul Kelly vs.
Rolando Delgado


Wolfslair Academy fighter Paul Kelly faces off with Ultimate
Fighter 8 participant Rolando Delgado. Kelly will be making his lightweight
debut after fighting at welterweight for his whole career. Kelly is the better
fighter on the feet and is the better wrestler of the two. Delgado has the
advantage in submissions and will need to work for one to win the fight. Kelly
needs to either keep the fight on the feet or use his wrestling to pound out a
victory with strikes over the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Delgado.


Denis Stojnic vs.
Stefan Struve


Bosnian heavyweight kickboxer Denis Stojnic takes on Dutch
submission fighter Stefan Struve. Both fighters were stopped by strikes in
their UFC debuts and will be looking for his first win in the UFC, while the
other will more than likely be given his walking papers. Stojnic has the
advantage on the feet with his kickboxing experience and Struve on the ground with
submissions. The key in the fight will be whether or not Stojnic can keep the
fight on the feet. If he can’t then Struve will have a joyful night.


John Hathaway vs.
Rick Story


Undefeated British welterweight John Hathaway takes on
Northwestern wrestler Rick Story. Hathaway looked impressive in his UFC debut,
but will be facing a much tougher opponent in Story. Story is a solid wrestler
and has shown that in his past couple of fights. Hathaway will look to
overwhelm the wrestler with strikes form the top, but could have a tough time
taking Story down. Both fighters favor fighting on the ground, so whoever can
dictate the pace of the fight on the feet could very well win.