Hi all, time again for my world famous previews. This is the first of two UFC shows in two weeks which is fantastic! It helps make up for the debacle that this month has become with the Affliction show being postponed to god knows when and the EliteXC show not only stinking up the joint but coming under "match fixing" fire. So let's try and focus on the positive. This card originally was the only one planned for October until Affliction tried to put their card on the week after only to have the UFC upstage them again (although if I had a choice between what was to be the Affliction card and watching Anderson Silva kill Patrick Cote I would have chosen the former). In any case there are now two cards in two weeks and this one is on tape delay (due to it being in England) but at least it's free. Also, I think this card is stronger top to bottom. The main event is the make up fight between Chris Leben and Mike Bisping that was supposed to take place at UFC 85 until Leben got arrested. Now with Leben's personal life in check (for the moment) this fight can finally take place and can either launch Leben's career back to being a contender or launch Bisping into possibly getting a shot at the title (though I think he probably needs one more big name win before that can happen). Let's start breaking down the fights:
David Baron v. Jim Miller: Baron is 16-2, 0-1 in PRIDE, with 13 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter and is making his UFC debut. Miller is 11-1, 1-0 in the IFL, with 8 wins by submission. He is also a submission fighter who is making his UFC debut. My pick here is that the two grapplers will cancel each other out on the ground and Baron will get the better of Miller standing. I predict Baron will win by decision.
Sam Stout v. Terry Etim: Stout is 13-4-1, 2-3 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Etim is 10-2, 1-2 in the UFC, with all 10 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. This is an interesting fight. It is in front of Etim's countrymen and he has lost two fights in a row in the UFC. He has a lot of pressure riding on this fight. How will he handle it? This is also a great clash of styles. Obviously whoever can impose their style on the other should win. My personal opinion is that Sam will keep the fight standing and win the decision sending Etim to a third humiliating defeat and out of the UFC for awhile.
Samy Schiavo v. Per Eklund: Samy is 10-5, 0-1 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Per is 12-3-1, 0-1 in the UFC, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. One way or another someone is getting their first UFC win (barring some strange draw). My bet is that Schiavo's well rounded ability will allow him to win this fight by TKO in round 1.
Jess Liaudin v. David Bielkheden: Jess is 12-10, 2-2 in the UFC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. David is 12-6, 0-1 in PRIDE, 0-1 in the UFC, with 9 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. I think David with his well rounded skills and Jess' penchant for getting knocked out will lead to David's first UFC win by TKO in round 1.
Akihiro Gono v. Dan Hardy: Gono is 27-12-7, 6-3 in PRIDE, 1-0 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Hardy is 19-6 with 14 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a stand up fighter making his UFC debut. I should learn my lesson about newbies and pick Hardy. However, I can't pick against Gono who has too much skill and experience to let Hardy win his fight. Gono will take this to the ground and win by submission in round 2.
Shane Carwin v. Neil Wain: Carwin is 9-0, 1-0 in the WEC, 1-0 in the UFC, with all 9 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a stand up fighter. Wain is 4-0 with all four wins by KO. This is a great match up of young stud heavyweights looking to duke it out. But I'd be lying to you if I thought Carwin was dumb enough to duke it out with Wain. It will be a very unpopular fight especially with Wain fighting in front of the home town fans but I think Carwin will use his exceptional wrestling to take Wain down and finish the fight by submission in the first round. How about that for a prediction huh? The UFC better hope this Carwin kid wins because besides him and Valasquez they got nothing at heavyweight in terms of prospects.
Chris Lytle v. Paul Taylor: Lytle is 25-15-5, 3-0 in the WEC, 4-8 in the UFC, with 21 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a submission fighter. Taylor is 8-3-1, 2-2 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker. This should be a great clash of styles. This is obviously a gatekeeper match which is all Lytle has been in his career otherwise he would've been out of the UFC a long time ago. If Taylor wins he moves on to sturdier competition. But if Lytle wins that is Taylor's third loss in four fights in the UFC and that will be the last we've seen of Taylor for a little while. With that said though I finally see a Brit break through for a win tonight. I'm picking Taylor to keep the fight standing and win a decision.
Marcus Davis v. Paul Kelly: Davis is 14-4, 6-2 in the UFC, with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Kelly is 8-0, 1-0 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker. Davis is trying to rebound from his loss to Mike Swick. I think Davis will be smart and won't try and bang with Kelly. He'll take this fight to the ground and control the fight. I predict Davis' ground game and experience will help him win a decision victory.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou v. Luis Cane: Thierry is 5-2, 2-0 in PRIDE, 1-1 in the UFC, with 4 wins by KO. He is mostly a striker. Cane is 8-1, 1-1 in the UFC, with all 8 wins by stoppage. He is also mostly a striker. This has fight of the night potential. I don't think either of these guys will back down from the stand up which should provide a war. Thierry looked very good in his last fight and I think his skill level is just higher than Cane's. I'm picking Thierry to win by decision.
Keith Jardine v. Brandon Vera: Jardine is 13-4-1, 5-3 in the UFC, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a stand up fighter. Vera is 9-2, 2-0 in the WEC, 5-2 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is also a stand up fighter. Again this has fight of the night potential as neither guy backs down from a brawl. This is an interesting fight since this will be Jadine's first fight back since getting obliterated by Wanderlei and this will be Vera's first real test at 205. It will be interesting to see how both fighters react to this challenge. This is a really tough fight for me to pick but I'm going to go on a hunch and say that Jardine pulls this one out and wins by decision.
Michael Bisping v. Chris Leben: Bisping is 16-1, 6-1 in the UFC, with 15 wins by decision. He is a stand up fighter. Leben is 18-4, 2-0 in the WEC, 8-3 in the UFC, with 14 wins by stoppage. He is also a striker. One more fight that has two strikers willing to stand and trade. This should be another fantastic war. However, at 185 Bisping has looked really good and I'm sure with Rampage and Cheick Kongo coming over to train with his gym he's only gotten better all around and in his striking specifically. I think Bisping will be too strong, too big, and too technical for Leben's bruising style. Obviously Leben has a puncher's chance as always but I see Bisping pulling out a decision against the tough Leben to send the hometown fans into a frenzy and sending Bisping about 1 fight away from a shot at the title.
All in all this is a solid card top to bottom in jolly old England. The Brits won't have a strong showing in my opinion but the one who matters most should come out on top. It should be a really fun night full of action packed fights. My pick for KO of the night goes to David Bielkheden. My pick for submission of the night goes to Akihiro Gono. My pick for fight of the night goes to Michael Bisping v. Chris Leben. Ok folks that's it for now but stay tuned for my TUF recap this week as well as my UFC 89 Review and UFC 90 preview next week. Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...