What to know, who to watch at 'UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben'
There is only one place
Facing Britain's most popular fighter, Leben isn't likely to have many supporters in Birmingham, England, other than those in his own corner. And he knows what that could mean if the fight goes the distance.
"We all saw that fight with
That kind of thinking could lead a fighter to get a little more desperate with each round. Fortunately for Leben, it won't require too much of a stylistic alteration.
We've heard a lot about the new, more mature Leben in the past few weeks. For the most part it seems to be true. He trains harder, is more dedicated to the sport and has even cut down on drunken stunts that inevitably find their way onto YouTube.
But in the Octagon, Leben still knows one path to victory, and it's throwing big bombs with the willingness to take a few to land one. That brawling style served him well against another sharp striker in
"The Count" is a more complete fighter than any Leben has faced of late. The Brit doesn't rattle easily and has no glaring weaknesses in his game, even if he also has no overpowering strengths. But solid is far from elite, and if Bisping wants to show that he might someday be the heir to
Squeaking by with a hometown decision isn't going to get it done, which means there ought to be two men with a sense of urgency Saturday night.
It's a tale of two tax brackets when
Meanwhile, Jardine has been taking on 205-pound superstars like
The winner here gets to hang around near the top of the division and see how the title fight lottery shakes out over the next few months. The loser will have to justify his continued employment. That will be easier for Jardine, who's been making paltry amounts without a complaint. But Vera's price tag comes with certain expectations, and he hasn't met them. It makes you wonder how long it will be before the UFC brass decides this is not the economic climate to be throwing money at an investment with such diminishing returns.
The UFC is obviously smart enough to pack the undercard with British fighters. After the
For one, the UFC has set up what is sure to be an explosive, and probably very quick, bout between
On the dark portion of the card, the one fight you can probably look forward to seeing, however briefly, is the