You almost have to feel bad for the fighters on Saturday's UFC 88 card in Atlanta. With the announcement of
There's not a single title up for grabs on the pay-per-view event, and most of the bouts don't even have title implication. Instead, we get several ex-champs and former superstars trying to stay relevant against a rising class of competitors.
But that doesn't mean UFC 88 is just a forgettable stop on the road to Couture vs.
When it comes to title shots and the UFC, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Just look at the
Saturday's main event brings a slightly different story, though it's not necessarily any fairer.
If Evans wins, he still may not take Liddell's spot. Even if "Sugar" managed to finish Liddell (an unlikely scenario given Liddell's takedown defense and counter-punching ability), Evans would still be at least one more win from a title shot. As talented as he is, his slow, grinding style will never be a hit with fans, and thus he'll never be the draw that Liddell is. Fair? Not really. But it is reality. Just ask Machida.
Henderson is staying at middleweight, still holding on to the pipe dream of a rematch with Silva. Franklin, who moves up in weight in an attempt to revitalize his career as a 205-pounder, made the best choice. If he can't beat
Henderson faces the capable, but largely unheralded,
If Hendo can't come up with a solution to that problem he'll drop out of the title picture altogether and most likely end up on
The bout between
Marquardt needs to erase the ugly memory of his split-decision loss to
Kampmann is an unheralded middleweight who is somehow still flying under most people's radar. He's unbeaten in the last four years and has faced some tough, though not elite, competition in recent fights.
If he can put up a convincing victory over Marquardt, it may signal that the "Hitman" is a potential title contender -- even if not right away. But in a division so desperate for fresh meat to toss into the cage with Silva, Kampmann's time may come sooner than expected. Let's just hope it isn't too soon. There's no sense in destroying such a bright young talent by overmatching him at this point in his career.
In the meantime, don't tune in late and miss this fight. It could easily provide more fireworks than the main event.