UF 82 preview....
Now this is a STACKED card, so stacked that matches starring former champions, headliners and fan favorites are actually on the UNDERCARD. I kid you not a card hasnt been this stacked before since...well maybe that god awful Stacked card with Ortiz/Evans...but hopefully yhis one will be better. Whats not to like though u got a FOTY in the MW main event, u got at least two number one contender matches and a guaranteed slugfest plus some possible undercard matches. As always UFC events can be seen on PPV starting 7pm.
Middleweight Title Match: Champion-Anderson Silva (20-4, in UFC 5-0) Vs Challenger- Dan Henderson (22-6, in UFC 2-1)
This is the BIG one. UFC has done a great service to its fans in providing some amazing match ups in the past year including Rampage/Hendo, Rampage/Liddell II, and even the better late then never Silva/Liddell. Now we have the first mega fight of 2008 which will have arguably one of the best pound for pound fighters in MW champion Anderson Silva against former two title PRIDE champion Dan Henderson. Silva of course a Muay Thai specialist (with some submission training by the Nog bros) is a former Shooto champion and has torn up the ranks in the UFC since debuting almost two years ago. When Silva was paired up with then MW champion Rich Franklin many thought Franklin would pound Silva into the mat but instead it was Silva that would give Franklin a beating AND broken nose he wouldn’t soon forget. Even in the rematch Silva just dominated Franklin with his aggressive Muay Thai clinch and excellent standup and strking game. Now Silva will have the task of fighting a man who has one of the strongest chins in the MMA game and hands of cement.
Dan Henderson is one of the TOUGHEST fighters in the MMA. The only man to hold two titles in PRIDE before their demise, Henderson was the first MW champion after winning the MW GP in 2005 and then knocking out Wanderlei Silva to claim the LHW title a year later. Henderson holds very heavy hands as a testament of his record, half of his wins are by either TKO or KO and the other half are by decision, meaning not only can Henderson give a beating but he can take one. Hendo has NEVER been knocked out and only been submitted twice and that was by both Nog bros who are arguably the best submission fighters in the world. The other losses were arguable decisions to Ricardo Arona, Kazuo Misaki, Wanderlei Silva and recently to LHW UFC champion Rampage Jackson. If anything this means that this fight is not going to end quickly and could easily turn into a five round WAR! Do not miss this fight as I guarantee it will not disappoint.
Cheick Kongo (11-3-1, in UFC 4-1) Vs Heath Herring (27-13, in UFC 1-2)
Cheick Kongo is a huge kickboxer from Holland. Starting out in K-1 and gradually moving to the MMA world, Kongo was called up to the UFC where he debuted in impressive fashion with back to back Kos over Gilbert Aldana and Christian Wellisch. Many were proclaiming early that Kongo was a future contender for the HW title but then was complelty dominated on the ground by wreslter Carmelo Marrero which stopped Kongo’s rise to the title. A poor performance that resulted in a majority win over Assuerio Silva hurt Kongo even further. But then Kongo came back with his biggest win ever a dominating performance over feared kickboxer Mirko Cro Cop. Now with talk of another title shot in the works Kongo will have to deliver nothing short of a knock out over Heath herring.
At one time Heath Herring was a top HW contender but after being beaten repeatidly by the best in PRIDE (losing to Nog twice, Fedor Emealienko and Mirko Cro Cop) Herring kinda faded away in the background. After having his contract picked up by the UFC in the ill fated WFA buy out Herring and the UFC were both hoping it would rejuvenate the “Texas Crazy Horse” career. Instead Herring debuted in horrible fashion being manhandled by unknown Jake O’Brien and then letting what should have been an easy win turn into a decision lost against Antonio Nog. Now Herring is at the end of his UFC contract, with a lost here meaning getting the boot. Yet I don’t see Herring doing anything to stop a very motivated Kongo.
Jon Fitch (15-2, in UFC 7-0) Vs Chris Wilson (13-3, UFC debut)
What is there to say about Jon Fitch? The guy is a dominant ground fighter, with good striking and excellent submission defense. The guy is undefeated in the UFC with wins over Brock larson, Josh Burkman, Thiago Aives and just recently TUF winner Diego Sanchez. The guy is also riding an impressive 14 fight win streak. IF you need any other convincing that this guy should be fighting for the WW title right now…then u should work for the UFC.
Chris Wilson is an unknown talent from Team Quest that should have been in the UFC a while ago. A well rounded fighter, Wilson has only been stopped once in his career by submission from current Bodog WW champion Nick Thompson. Wilson’s closest exposure to the mainstream has been a run in the IFL where he held victories over Rory Markham and Jay Hieron. Its great to see Wilson get a shot in the UFC its just unfortunate that he has to fight Fitch. BUT this fight will easily be the fight of the night, next to the main event of course.
Yushin Okami (20-4, in UFC 5-1) Vs Evan Tanner (32-6, in UFC 11-4)
Yushin Okami is a very strong ground fighter who has been climbing the thin ranks of the UFC’s MW division since entering the UFC. Relying primarily on his ground and piound strategy Okami has beaten nearly every person he has been given including Allan Belcher, TUF alumni Rory Singer and Kalib Starnes, Mike Swick and Jason MacDonald. Okami even almost took out former MW champion Rich Franklin but let a decision win slip through his fingers. Because of his ground and pound style, Okami isn’t the most exctiign fighter nor is he a good matchup for most opponents making him one fighter many have tried to avoid.
Ah the tale of Evan Tanner is a sad and long one. Once a promising LHW contender Tanner was riding a 17-1 career (with his only lost to Heath Herring) which included wins against current Strike Force HW champion Paul Buentello, former PRIDE fighter Minowa-man and UFC fighter Justin McCully. After three easy wins in UFC, Tanner was given a shot for the LHW champion Tito Ortiz. In the match tragedy struck when Tanner was injuried after being slammed to the mat within 30 seconds of the match. After that lost Tanner rebounded with three more wins including one over Elvis Sinosic before being slaughtered by the debuting Rich Franklin. Again not to be deterred by the lost Tanner came back stronger than ever with an impressive back to back wins over Phil Baroni and giving Robbie Lawler one of his few losses. Due to those impressive wins Tanner was given a shot at the newly formed MW championship where he made quick work of David Terrell. Then came the rematch with Franklin which Tanner believed he could win. Again after extensive training Tanner fought Franklin and got slaughtered in four rounds before the doctor called a stop to it due to the pounding on Tanner’s face. After that disappointing lost Tanner hit another bump losing to David Loiseau. Rumors of Tanner going through depression were quickly pushed aside when Tanner came back to the UFC and took out Justin Levins in the first round. It seemed Tanner was back on track but then reports of Tanner leaving his home and living in a dissolute area started surfacing. Then reports of drugs and alchol and large debt surfaced. Then the myspace reports from a very fat and out of shape Tanner surfaced and many thought the career of a former great was done. Now Tanner is returning to the UFC. Will he be the same Tanner before suffering the losses, or is he still going to be a ticking time bomb of depression just waiting to explode?
Chris Leben (17-4, in UFC 7-3) Vs Alessio Sakara (12-6, in UFC 3-3)
Chris Leben is a former TUF alumnus who possess hands of stone and a iron chin. Not really the most skilled fighter Leben is purely a brawler that got him noticied after racking up five straight wins in the UFC. Leben’s win streak hit a major brick wall in the form of future MW champion Anderson Silva’s knee to the face which lead to Leben being knocked out for the first time in his career. After that lost Leben faltered quite a bit with losses to Jason MacDonald and a very uninspiring lost to fellow TUF alumnus Kalib Starnes. Recently Leben rebounded with a slugfest victory over fellow striker Terry Martin.
Alessio Sakara is a BJJ fighter who loves to bang. Debuting in the UFC with an impressive win over Elvis Sinosic, Sakara lost back to back fights against Dean Lister and Andrew McFedries. He came back with an impressive performance against Victor Valimaki but then got destroyed by Houston Alexander. Recenty Sakara knocked out James Lee at UFC 80. If anything this fight wont last long and will be a true slugfest which will be one to definitely watch.
Andrei Arvloski (11-5, in UFC 9-4) Vs Jake O’Brien (10-0, in UFC 3-0)
This match will mark the return of former UFC HW champion Andrei Arlovski after his lackluster win over Fabrcio Werdum nearly a year ago. Lots of rumors abound after that poor performance and similar losses to the ogre Tim Syliva, that Arvloski would be cut from the UFC soon after contract negotiations failed. Apparently the UFC and Arlovski’s camp came to some sort of agreement and now the “Pitbull” is trying to build himself up to the HW title picture that he once held a comfortable grip on. But after suffering brutal losses to Sylvia many are saying that the Pitbull is not the same man who once held the HW title and may never be again.
Jake O’Brien is a unknown HW in the UFC even though he holds a perfect 10-0 record. A former collegiate wrestler, O’Brien debuted in the UFC after racking up a 7-0 record all wins by KO or TKO and all ending in the first round. Upon his debut in the UFC O’Brien continued his winning ways over Kristof Midoux, Josh Shockman and his biggest scalp Heath Herring. This match will definitely be the biggest challenge to date for O’Brien but with his excellent ground game and striking he may have a sight advantage over the former UFC champion.
Josh Koscheck (9-2, in UFC 7-2) Vs Dustin Hazelett (10-3, in UFC 3-1)
Josh Koschek is a former TUF alumnus and collegiate wrestler who morphed from being just a wrestler to being a pretty well rounded MMA fighter. After scoring an impressive record of 6-1 (with the one lost a surprising submission lost to Drew Fickett) Koschek was granted the one match he always wanted since the TUF, a match with TUF winner Diego Sanchez. To the surprise of many Koscheck totally out fought Sanchez by keeping it standing and picking apart Sanchez’s defense giving him his first lost in his MMA career. This win gave him a shot at the WW title but first Kos needed to get past former champion Georges St. Pierre. Though Koschek gave it his all he was simply outclassed by the better fighter. Now trying to get back into the very stacked WW rankings Koscheck will have to rack a few more wins.
Dustin Hazellet is a very talented jiu jitsu fighter who trains with former MW champion Rich Franklin and Jorge Gurgel. After debuting in a stunning lost to Tony DeSouza, Hazellet bounced back with three straight wins including two impressive submission victories over Steven Lynch and Johnathan Goulet. Hazelett will be a good matchup with the ground fighting Koscheck and will really test Kos’s submission defense if he has any.
Diego Sanchez (17-2, in UFC 6-2) Vs David Bielkheden (12-5, UFC debut)
Diego Sanchez has seen quite a reverse of fortune in his career. Once the esteemed TUF winner and owner of a hot 17-0 record, Sanchez met his first defeat at the hands of rival Josh Koscheck (granted many claim Sanchez’s lost is due to his hepatitis B scare) and since then suffered another lost to the very tough Jon Fitch. Now facing some self doubt and rumor of possibly jumping down a weight class, Sanchez is at a cross road in his career. If he can start winning again will he stay in a division that is proving to be tougher and tougher or try and dominate a smaller yet even FURTHER stacked light weight division?
David Bielkheden is a Swedish BJJ fighter from Brazilian Top Team. A well rounded fighter, Bielkheden has shown to be comfortable striking, fighting on the ground and submitting people. Fighting invarious promotions around the world including Shooto in Japan, Bielkheden’s biggest fight was in PRIDE where he suffered a disappointing lost to Mitsuhiro Ishida. Now trying his luck stateside, Bielkheden will have a great opportunity to become an huge name with a win over Sanchez.
Luke Cummo (6-4, in UFC 3-2) Vs Luigi Fioravanti (11-3, in UFC 2-3)
Luke Cummo, the unlikely finalist of TUF season 2 has struggled lately in the UFC. After losing to Joe Stevenson in the TUF finale, he struggled in a win over Jason Von Flue and then lost a flat decision to Johnathan Goulet. After that Cummo has been able to string back to back wins over Josh Haynes and Ediberto de Olivera. Cummo needs a win here in order to secure his spot in the very competitive WW division of the UFC.
Luigi Fioravanti is a knock out machine training out of ATT. After losing his debut UFC match to Chris Leben, Fioravanti looked impressive knocking out “dagger” Solomon Hutchinson and former MW champion Dave Menne. Unfortunatly Fioravanti went on to drop his next two fights against Jon Fitch and Forrest Petz. Like opponent Cummo, Fioravanti needs a win here to stay in the UFC.
Jorge Gurgel (11-3, in UFC 2-2) Vs John Halverson (16-5, in UFC 0-1)
Lil Jorge Gurgel is a tough capable jiu jitsu fighter who has excellent ground game and a lot of strength for a guy his sisze. After dropping his debut fight against Mark Hominick, Gurgel scored two wins in a row against Danny Abidi and Diego Saravia but got compeltly dominated in his last outing with Alvin Robinson.
John Halverson is a well rounded journey man who hasn’t had much exposure to the main stream media. His only big match was his UFC debut fight where he took on poster boy Roger Huerta and lost due to what he thought was an illegal knee to the face (but replays show it wasn’t). Not to be deterred, Halverson took some time off and strugn up three wins outside of the UFC. Now whether or not he is ready to come back will be seen.
Respect! Earn it!
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