Talent and questions mark UFC 82
Ultimate Fighting Championship 82 is such a deep card that former rising welterweight stars
In addition, former UFC heavyweight champ
This is perhaps the most highly debated UFC matchup since another Silva fought
So, who will win? Fans and pundits have debated the finer points of the matchup since it was first announced. Will it be the man who prefers the Muay Thai clinch (Silva) or the man who prefers the Greco-Roman clinch (Henderson)? The man with the rock solid chin (Henderson) or the man who accurately targets his opponents' chins with his strikes (Silva)? Wrestling (Henderson) or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Silva)?
Henderson clearly has the tools to defeat Silva and is easily his toughest UFC opponent thus far in the promotion's weakest division. But I have a general rule when it comes to predictions: pick the hot champ unless he's fighting someone who has beaten him fairly recently. Therefore, Silva, whether he has fought tailor-made opponents or not, gets my vote. He has all-around skill and has owned the Octagon for a year-and-a-half. Let Henderson come in and take the Octagon from Silva and I, too, will become a believer in the PRIDE champ's legendary chin.
Whatever the outcome, this fight should be a fine display of MMA. And, assuming it lives up to the hype, expect a rematch very soon.
In a division that boasts very few contenders, this bout may determine the No. 1 contender for the title (assuming the Silva-Henderson bout doesn't warrant a rematch.) Okami isn't well-known but he's steady, even if unspectacular. A big, strong guy, his favorite tactic is to take the fight to the ground and go to work there.
Okami's last shot at being the No. 1 contender came last year against former champ
Tanner is a very familiar name to old-school UFC fans. A former middleweight champ with an 11-4 record, Tanner hasn't fought since 2006. At 37, Tanner has overcome personal obstacles, including a battle with alcoholism, to make it back to the Octagon. With Tanner's personality and name-recognition, it wouldn't be difficult to imagine UFC President
Maybe the UFC will catch a break, and a much-needed story will emerge from the middleweight division Saturday night.
Herring has had a rough go of it in the UFC, coming out 1-2 in the promotion. In his last fight, at UFC 73, he appeared to have finished off
Kongo is a sculpted French fighter who is 4-1 in the UFC and riding a two-fight victory streak. His last fight was a unanimous decision victory over
This bout should be a striker's duel with the winner potentially sitting in the number one contender's spot (or maybe set up for a fight against
Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champ and a fighter easily identifiable with the UFC. So why is he fighting in the dark portion of the card at a time when the heavyweight division is suspect at best?
Speculation centers around the fact that this is Arlovski's final fight on his contract, and that he and the promotion have not come to terms on a new one. Therefore, as the assumption holds, he is being placed on the dark card against a fighter who is known for extinguishing any potential flame of excitement in the Octagon with his lay-and-pray tactics.
Furthermore, the hope on the UFC's part is that a loss, or subpar performance, by Arlovski will render his market value so low that he will re-sign with the UFC. While I can't blame the UFC for such tactics on a purely business level, it's a horrible decision for TV viewers.
If Arlovski isn't motivated for this fight, maybe the UFC knows what it's doing after all. If he is motivated, though, and delivers in spectacular fashion, which promotion will he fight for next?
There's one reason why welterweights Sanchez and Koscheck are both fighting on the dark portion of the card as well: Fitch. The UFC appears to have favored middleweights in this card and placed only one welterweight bout on the live portion of the telecast. Among Fitch, Sanchez, and Koscheck, the choice was an easy one.
Fitch may not be as well-known to UFC fans as the other two, but he's been around for a while has done very well. Owning a 7-0 UFC record, with four of those bouts won by stoppage, he earned the nod for primetime exposure at UFC 82 after defeating Sanchez by split decision in his last fight at UFC 76.
A win on Saturday should put Fitch, a strong wrestler, in the No. 1 contender's position in the welterweight division and he would likely face the winner of the UFC 83
Fitch's opponent, Wilson, is a well-rounded fighter making his UFC debut. While Wilson is a journeyman with a good record, he trains with some of the best in the world at Team Quest in Portland. This should be a very fine tactical fight indeed.