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Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

Ufc Roster Packs A Bigger Punch (and Slam)with New Additions

UFC Roster Packs a Bigger Punch (and Slam)
with New Additions

By Derek Callahan

Gone are the days of stellar cards with all big-name fighters in the UFC, but so goes with the territory of free and frequent events. With their February 3rd Pay-Per-View show, the UFC seems to be finding a happy medium between stacked cards and weak showings. Some fights are intriguing, some evoke excitement, and others look to induce highly skilled bouts.

Starting at the top, Anderson Silva (17-4) will defend his title for the first time against Travis Lutter (9-3). True to the word of The Ultimate Fighter finale, Lutter is getting a shot at the title that exemplifies exactly what TUF is there for. As a strong wrestler and fantastic grappler, Lutter has been erratic since he was initially heard from by UFC fans. After knocking out Marvin Eastman in 2004 in his big stage debut, Lutter has been on-and-off impressive and looks to ride some of the first momentum he’s had in some time. As a reality show, TUF is designed to give talented fighters who have strayed, the chance for a puncher’s chance. After winning three straight, including the title shot-clinching armbar of Patrick Cote, Lutter doesn’t need a punchers chance. He needs to see how Daiju Takase and Ryo Chonan handed Silva half his career losses: with submissions.

Fortunately for Lutter, Silva has been a world-class striker that can be submitted if found open to one. Seven out of nine of Lutter’s wins have come by submission, so it stands to reason that that’s his best shot. Short of a one-punch haymaker or a successful, quick combination that lands, Silva won’t be out struck. It’s a main event that requires Lutter to impose his game and not get caught by Silva’s on the way.

If that’s the intriguing fight of the night, the next two will provide the excitement. Mirko FiIipovic‘s (21-4-2) record is laughably superior in strength of opposition than just about anyone else on the UFC roster. All those complaints about a moribund heavyweight division had better get eaten, which was obviously part of the UFC’s mindset in bringing in one of the world’s top-five heavyweights. For proof that he can knock out a tough looking opponent and convince fans who haven’t yet seen him that he is indeed a brutal tactician, he faces Eddie Sanchez (7-0).

For potentially donating his body to impact research, Sanchez will have the chance to give himself something immediately in common with Kevin Randleman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark Hunt and Fedor Emelianenko. If he can somehow continue the seven-fight win streak that has been his career, it would be the biggest catapult for a contender since Joe Lauzon knocked out Jens Pulver. As much as "Li’l Evil" is an all time great though, Filipovic’s striking is on a plane above that which Sanchez has faced, or likely will ever face again. The results are so assuredly exciting, but the chances for Sanchez are so slim. That just might be why this bout is compelling in spite of itself.

Just as groundbreaking as the entrance of Mirko "Cro-Cop" into the UFC is that of Quinton Jackson (23-8). The reason of course, is that Jackson holds a win over current UFC poster boy Chuck Liddell. Credit the company for knowing a good storyline when they see one, because the image of Jackson dominating the UFC champion on the mat and finishing him with the help of a solid body attack isn’t an easy one to forget. Marvin Eastman (13-6-1) may not have, but he may also be wondering how he did it the last time. After beating a much greener Jackson in both of their pro debuts, Eastman has had a successful, yet professionally erratic career. He doesn’t lose to bad fighters, and has beaten his share of them. He played a part in the unraveling of Alex Stiebling, he avenged an earlier loss to Vernon White and most recently he ground out a close decision over Travis Wiuff.

That said a re-energized Jackson, fighting in the U.S. for only the second time since 2001, still has a test in Eastman. Although it’s been almost two years since his KO loss to Mauricio Rua, Jackson is still working his way up in competition. Obviously his last win over Matt Lindland constitutes a world-class victory, but it did come against a fighter moving up in weight for the challenge of fighting him. It came down to a split decision in a competitive bout. Beyond that, two wins over Hirotaka Yokoi and Yoon Dong Sik don’t do much to suggest that any power bombs are on their way. A win over Eastman however, just might.

The Ultimate Fighter 4 rears its head again with the appearance of Scott Smith (11-2) on the card. Smith takes on an interesting opponent in Patrick Cote (8-4). Coming into his fight with Tito Ortiz, in just the sixth bout of his career, Cote was heavily hyped. He had to be though, or else the fight would be less interesting than it already was. So even though it died down a little bit after the Ortiz loss, it took a bigger hit when Cote dropped two straight to Joe Doerksen and Chris Leben. Those two are just a brief litmus test of how deep the middleweight division goes, and there is a stark distance from their level and that of the Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva’s of the world. Cote has a chance though, to put his TUF loss to Lutter behind him and move forward with a win over Scott Smith. Cote has been tough, and his performances against good competition, stands to reason that he can hold his own. The question is what else can he do?

Rounding out the card is a varied array of experience and talent. Sam Hoger (8-2) takes on Lyoto Machida (8-0), who should be expected to fight Rich Franklin soon. It is more than likely that the Brazilian’s previous win over the former champ, is the main reason he’s been invited to the UFC.

Perennial workhorse Jorge Rivera (21-5) is in against Terry Martin (14-3) in a middleweight bout. Besides an old school debut loss to Stephan Bonnar that some would argue doesn’t count on his record because of a murky, undecided amateur/pro distinction, Martin’s only other losses have been in the UFC. He’s been on a good two-win streak since losing to Jason Lambert last April, but smart money sometimes just goes to experience in favor of Rivera.

Frank Edgar (6-0) is nicknamed "The Answer" but there is no question that he has talent. His wrestling is generally exciting enough to fans and certainly strong enough for opponents. He’s ground out two straight decisions and faces his toughest challenge yet in Tyson Griffin (8-0). Griffin already has the big name victim after a stoppage win over Duane Ludwig last June. It’s substance time now, and both prospects will be looking to back it up.

World’s Best Fighter Preview
By Jim Genia

What: World’s Best Fighter
When: February 2nd
Where: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City

It’s a big MMA world out there, and it’s only getting bigger. The newest addition to Atlantic City fight shows is promoter Gianfranco Fiori’s "World’s Best Fighter", which will blend mixed martial arts bouts with San Da bouts (a type of kickboxing with throws), and will pit a roster of Japanese, Chinese and Koreans against a slew of Americans. And though the names on Team Asia are relative unknowns to fans on this side of the hemisphere, thanks to Ed Hsu’s matchmaking, Team USA is stocked with well-known badasses. Here’s a closer look at some of the Team USA fighters:

Justin Eilers

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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