Tuesday, February 24, 2009

UFC 101: UFC's Second Century

Since everyone and their mother seems to be predicting fight cards recently I've decided to throw my hat in the ring as well. With all due respect to Jessy Morris I'm going to work off his premise of filling out my UFC 101 card instead of speculating about UFC 100.

The difference between my card and his is that all the fights on this card could actually be signed today and won't depend on anyone winning on a card in between now and UFC 101. With that in mind here is what I would love to see come August for the official beginning of the UFC's second century in the MMA business.


Jon Jones v. Eric Schafer:Jones made a huge impact after taking apart Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94. He is one of the most athletic fighters I have ever seen. He is undefeated in the UFC and overall. He has a great sprawl and brawl style that will make him dangerous against any style an opponent can throw at him.

Schafer is the antithesis of Jones. He is a slower grappler with developing striking. He's riding an impressive two fight win streak in the UFC and is looking to start making a name for himself in the division.

This fight would be a great clash of styles and any chance I get to see Jones in action is a plus. A win here for either fighter puts them one quality win away from breaking the top 10 LHW in the UFC.

Josh Koscheck v. Dan Hardy: Koscheck is coming off an embarrassing upset at UFC 95. He has an impressive record in the UFC but after this loss and AKA's beef with the UFC don't be surprised to see Koscheck on an undercard. Kos is still a great wrestler with solid striking but hopefully this loss will be a wake up call.

Hardy is riding a huge wave of momentum. He has beaten two solid opponents in the UFC and is the UFC's new poster boy in England. He has great hands but would need to step up his grappling game significantly to have a chance in this fight.

I'd love to see Kos come in and take this fight seriously and just dominate to show Hardy that the welterweight division is no joke. But with Kos' fragile mental state and Hardy feeling untouchable this fight would be won in the mind more than in the cage. And unless this show is in the UK (unlikely) Hardy probably won't object to moving back down to the undercard.

A win for Koscheck gets him back on track. A win for Hardy definitely puts him in the top 10 WW in the UFC and puts him in the title hunt.

Anthony Johnson v. Marcus Davis: Johnson is another ridiculous athlete turned fighter. He is coming off a very impressive two fight win streak where he finished both opponents in devastating fashion. This kid is the next big thing in the welterweight division with his devastating sprawl and brawl but it's time to step up the competition.

Davis is a rising star at welterweight with only one loss in his entire UFC career and is coming off two solid wins. He has great hands but also has good BJJ so he is comfortable wherever the fight goes.

Johnson could control where this fight takes place but doesn't seem to have any inclination to go to the ground. That suits Davis just fine being a former professional boxer. This fight could be a fight of the year candidate and we're still only on the undercard!

A win for Johnson puts him in the top 10 WW in the UFC. A win for Davis and he might be 1 win away from a title shot. Neither of these guys are super stars so I doubt either of them would have a problem being on the undercard after being on main cards.

Joe Lauzon v. Clay Guida: Lauzon has only lost one fight in his UFC career and that was to current #1 contender Kenny Florian. He is currently on a two fight win streak. He has power in his hands and is super aggressive with his great BJJ.

Guida has had a long and winding UFC career full of ups and downs. However, he's on a three fight win streak and is moving up the LW ladder. He is a wrestler through and through that would give Lauzon fits on the ground.

This would be a very technical and strategic grappling battle. While many UFC fans would find this boring I think it's a great counter example to the brawling athleticism we might see in the three fights leading up to this one.

A win for Lauzon puts him in the title picture. A win for Guida and he's probably 1-2 quality wins away from a title shot. While Lauzon is coming off headlining a UFN and Guida is coming off a main card neither of these guys have the cache to get on the main card of this event.

Yushin Okami v. Rousimar Palhares: Okami finally resurfaced at UFC 92 after a long hiatus. He is riding a three fight win streak. He has long been in the middleweight title picture but with new talent being infused to the division he's fallen to the wayside somewhat.

Palhares is coming off a nice rebound win against Jeremy Horn at UFC 93. He is the poor man's Demian Maia. He is very one dimensional but is very good at what he does. Unfortunately he's not Demian Maia good.

This would be another grappler's delight as Okami would look to ground and pound while Palhares is happy looking for submissions off his back. Both guys are incredibly strong MWs and this would be a very strategic battle that many fans would find boring. However, I think this fight has serious implications for the UFC MW title picture.

A win for Okami would put him one quality win away from finally getting his title shot. A win for Palhares probably puts him two quality wins away from a title shot.

Main Card:

Forrest Griffin v. Thiago Silva: This fight is huge for both fighters. Both of them are looking to bounce back after tough losses and a win for either fighter here puts them right back in the title hunt. This would be sort of like a reverse eliminator where the winner doesn't get a title shot but instead the loser becomes an after thought in the UFC LHW title picture.

Griffin just lost his title but is not in a situation where one quality win will get him a rematch. Machida is ahead of him (spoiler alert!) and if Jackson wins so is he (which I don't understand). Silva with a win here cements his status as a top 10 LHW in the UFC.

This would be a great battle. Silva would bring his vicious Muay Thai to the table while Griffin would bring his trademark blood and guts attitude along with his under rated ground game. This has the makings of a classic brawl.

Cain Velasquez v. Junior Dos Santos: Velasquez and Shane Carwin are the UFC's two hopes for the HW division. Velasquez is undefeated in the UFC and overall. He has used his superior wrestling and heavy hands to end all his fights by the second round.

Dos Santos has destroyed both opponents the UFC put in front of him. He single handedly ended Werdum's run in the UFC. He hasn't showcased anything but his striking skills but working out at Blackhouse I would suspect his BJJ is good too.

This would be a stand out battle. Both guys have heavy hands and if Velasquez takes the fight to the ground Dos Santos has the skills to win the fight from his back. This makes for a very competitive fight no matter where it ends up.

This fight has huge implications for both fighters. If either fighter wins this fight I think that fighter is one quality win away from a title shot.

Demian Maia v. Nate Marquardt: This is the obvious MW title eliminator for the next shot after Leites. Both of these guys are freight trains headed right at each other.

Maia is undefeated and unquestionably the best functional BJJ artist in MMA. Marquardt is a great grappler but his improved striking is what makes him a different fighter since the last time he got a title shot. And if it weren't for some dubious point deductions in his controversial loss to Thales Leites it would most likely be Marquardt fighting Silva at UFC 97 in Montreal.

Can Marquardt survive on the ground with Maia? Can Maia survive on his feet if he can't get the fight to the mat? There are many interesting questions this fight poses so the only thing left to do is to let them decide it in the cage.

Jon Fitch v. Mike Swick: This fight is another title eliminator but this time for the WW title. With Koscheck and Sanchez out of the picture and Alves getting his title shot (most likely) at UFC 100 these are the next two guys in line.

Fitch rebounded nicely from his beating at the hands of GSP by taking apart Akihiro Gono at UFC 95. He is a great grappler who most fighters don't have an answer for even though he is still somewhat one dimensional.

Swick is undefeated at WW and finally earned back his nickname "Quick" at the Fight for the Troops event in Dec. His stand up is unbelievably fast and efficient with solid power.

This would be a great clash of styles and both of these guys deserve co-headliner status after Fitch was unjustly forced to fight on the undercard in his last bout and Swick co-headlined the UFN.

Rashad Evans v. Lyoto Machida: This fight for the LHW title is unlikely but this is what I want to see not what Dana White thinks will sell PPVs. Machida has earned his title shot with his thrilling victory over Thiago Silva shedding his "boring fighter" tag. Jackson will probably get the next shot if he beats Jardine but Lyoto deserves it more.

Machida is 14-0. He uses his unique blend of karate, kickboxing, and BJJ to neutralize his opponent on the feet or on the ground.

Evans is 13-0. He is a great wrestler who has evolved into a very impressive striker. He doesn't exactly employ sprawl and brawl because he still likes to go to the ground and beat guys up but he's turning into a complete fighter.

This is a super match at LHW between two undefeated fighters at the top of their game fighting for a title. I really hope that Dana and Joe Silva reconsider giving Machida the title shot instead of the winner of Jardine/Jackson but I wouldn't bet on it.

Please feel free to let me know if you feel like I left anyone out or some fights you would rather see than the ones I've got here. The one thing I would ask is to follow the same guideline I did which is that you can not include any fighters that are already confirmed to fight between now and UFC 101. Can't wait to hear your ideas!

Soccer kicks and head stomps...

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