For the first time in a while, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has recaptured a bit of that underdog feel it once wore so well.
Going head to head Saturday against
Star power and personalities have long been enough to push boxing's pay-per-view success. Though Saturday's card actually attempts to deliver depth with an interesting undercard, it differs from mixed martial arts, which has a tradition of stacking events from the bottom up.
Aware of the shared date, promoters and fighters on both sides have attempted to lay down the gauntlet. Fans with sworn allegiances, willing only to accept one sport over the other, are missing out. For true fight fans, however, Sept. 19 should be a memorable evening, one worthy of embracing differences.
Lacking that top-of-the-bill presence it too can provide, UFC 103 (PPV 10 p.m. ET, Spike TV 9 p.m. ET) has shown its strength and overall depth after a number of significant changes, not the least of which was the loss of a welterweight title eliminator between
But before the fists start flying Saturday, here are four questions worth pondering:
The card's main attraction takes place at a catch-weight of 195 pounds between southpaw veterans
Belfort (18-8) returns to the UFC for the first time since losing a split decision in 2005 to
Reigning UFC middleweight champion before
A tight split decision loss to
Belfort should have advantages in speed, grappling and athleticism, which all point to victory and an upcoming debut in the middleweight division of the UFC with wind at his back.
Few fighters create as much drama without the noise as
As hard as it is to imagine, we're now three years removed from Cro Cop's triumph in Pride's open-weight grand prix. With that victory it seemed as if the heavyweight kickboxer possessed enough will to make another run to the top of the division. But after entering the UFC in 2007, his results in the cage have fallen short of expectations.
Against rising Brazilian slugger
With Mike Swick out of the picture, Martin Kampmann is left to fight
Should he manage an impressive victory over the British fighter, Kampmann (15-2) would be deserving of a title shot against