Breaking down the three main fights at UFC 87
With a win over
But St. Pierre and
Fitch, 30, has typically produced methodical victories, while St. Pierre (16-2) has, recently, seemed more interested in running over opponents than racking up style points.
Tremendous athletes have tried their hand at MMA, but few excelled like the 27-year-old St. Pierre. Many talents have floundered under the weight of their egos, but he recognized early on that size, speed and power aren't enough to become the best. Mental sharpness is key, and entering the cage knowing he's prepared for any and everything thrown his way is, perhaps, his biggest asset.
For Fitch (17-2, 1 NC), talk of his impressive defensive skills, particularly when he's threatened by a submission, are often overlooked. Against St. Pierre, though, Fitch will need to worry more about deflecting and redirecting kicks, knees and punches than thwarting chokes or joint locks.
St. Pierre should be stronger than his opponent, but don't expect G.S.P. to work much in the clinch. Against
For Fitch to have any shot, he must prevent St. Pierre from running over him with powerful double-leg takedowns. If the challenger manages to slow St. Pierre, open counter attacks should be his reward.
Expect a technical affair. With neither fighter owning a significant edge in any tactical area, the pre-fight nod favors the bigger, better athlete: St. Pierre. Fitch will inevitably be pressured and attacked with takedowns similar to the ones that overwhelmed other top 170-pound grapplers.
In an interesting reversal of fortune, "El Matador" plays the part of the bull on Saturday.
Few fighters are as aggressive as
Florian, 32, will meet a pressure fighter whose fuel is confrontation. But the Boston College alum can offset Huerta's aggression by keeping a distance with proper footwork. If Florian succeeds, the emotional Huerta could easily fall into a trap -- either on his feet or the canvas.
As technical and intelligent as he is, Florian shares one of the best fighter-trainer relationships in MMA with Muay Thai specialist
Yet skill and physical attributes aren't the only things dictating a fight's outcome. As Huerta displayed against
Huerta, 25, will keep a fast pace in hopes that his opponent wilts by the end of the second or third round. That's a big gamble considering Florian hasn't shown signs of crumbling since 2005, when he lost at middleweight to
Florian, fighting at 155 -- 30 pounds below the middleweight limit -- has been as competent as they come in the past two years. Of course, few have been as explosive as Huerta.
While I wouldn't go as far to say
Lesnar (1-1) appears to have a tremendous edge over Herring, who has never been a great wrestler. Going up against a horrific opponent -- an enormous grappler who understands leverage and power -- Herring's only hope resides in his ability to scramble and save himself from one bad position after another.
If Herring (28-13, 1 NC) can't move around Lesnar, keep a distance and defend takedowns, he'll have to weather a heavy barrage of short, powerful punches and elbows when the fight hits the canvas.
The last time Herring faced someone who could ground and pound like Lesnar was against
Herring must make it past a volatile opening round. Only then will he find out if Lesnar is equipped to fight for longer than one or two short bursts.