UFC 88: Overshadowed

It’s unfortunate but I strongly believe that this weekend’s UFC PPV is getting absolutely no publicity at all, and therefore overshadowed not only by the Randy Couture situation but also the return of the NFL. So let’s try to create some more excitement for this card shall we? I think a little breakdown of the “Breakthrough” card is in order. We will begin with the first fights of the night (making the air) and work our way up to the main event.

Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt

I think Kampmann said it best recently when he was interviewed and asked what kind of problems Marquardt poses for his opponents. “Most of the guys I’ve fought,” said Kampmann, “I’ve been able to pinpoint a weakness in their game. Not with Nate. He is very well rounded and one of the best guys in the UFC.”

Marquardt is extremely dangerous and coming off a recent loss to Thales Leites, he will be even more geared up to validate his standing in the middleweight division, a standing which deserves to be right at the top of the list of challengers to the Spider’s throne. Like Kampmann stated, Marquadt’s game has very few holes in it, if any. His striking is fast, accurate and powerful as well as technical. He’s not just a puncher though — he combines kicks with jabs and big right hands as effectively as the best in the division. If an opponent tries to bring the fight to the mat against Marquardt, he’s strong enough to defend most takedown attempts and good enough on the ground to gain top position and work his way out of his opponent’s guard. Marquardt has a 26-8-2 record with wins coming by submission almost as frequently as TKO or KO stoppages.

Kampmann on the other hand is coming off a catastrophic knee injury in which he tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus last year while training at Xtreme Couture for a main event fight with Rich Franklin. There were questions whether his fighting career was over and after battling through all of that heartbreak, devastation and rehabilitation, Kampmann is back and ready to prove again that he deserves a shot at the title.

Kampmann is also a well-rounded fighter. Although he doesn’t boast the level of experience that Marquardt has, Kampmann has shown through his 13 wins that he can beat you just as effectively on the ground as in the stand-up game (6 TKOs, 5 submissions, 1 decision to go with a DQ).

This fight should be a stand-up war with both guys laying it all out on the line.

Karo Parisyan vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Parisyan, the judo fighter, is looking to rebound after a disappointing — and somewhat controversial — loss to Thiago Alves back in April at UFC’s Fight Night 13. At the time, Parisyan was working his way toward a title shot against Georges St.-Pierre and is now left to fight his way back up to the top, starting with Yoshida.

Yoshida is coming off a UFC debut win and wants to make a statement to his Japanese fan base that will be watching live on Saturday the kind of fighter that he is by beating up the whiner, Parisyan. His words not mine.

Dan Henderson vs. Rousimar Palhares

Now we start getting into the really intriguing bouts, starting with Henderson’s return to the Octagon to face a up-and-coming jiu-jitsu fighter in Palhares (17-1). Palhares demonstrated an exceptional ground game (and just the type of skills that he possesses) when he put on a clinic against BJJ veteran Ivan Salaverry in his UFC debut back in April.

Henderson (22-7) of course is coming off two title losses in his two fights since coming over to the UFC. He could be the headliner for the overshadowed and overlooked card. As soon as he entered the Octagon, two superior champions took his Pride belts and now Henderson has become the forgotten man.

Tired of losing, Henderson vows to fix that. Hendo still brings a ferocious greco-roman wrestling background to the table and understands that Palhares is going to have to get him down on the ground first if he wants to work his magic down there. That will be a tall task indeed for the Brazilian fighter as he faces an opponent with a rock-hard chin (never been KO’d) and equally strong hands.

Should be an exciting, tactical fight between two very good middleweights. I, for one, am anxious to see how Henderson fares after losing his belts.

Rich Franklin vs. Matt Hamill

Franklin (25-3) makes his move back up to light heavyweight where he began his career to face the ever-improving Hamill (6-1), whose lone loss came very controversially to Michael Bisping at UFC 75 in England.

No longer having a distinct size advantage over his opponents could be a problem for Franklin, as he faces a very strong wrestler in Hamill. Franklin obviously brings much more experience to the table but both have good hands and solid chins so if the fight stays up, this should prove to be a war.

Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans

We arrive at the main event where the Iceman finally makes his return to the Octagon after defeating Wanderlei Silva in the highly anticipated bout last December and therafter injuring his hamstring. Now healthy, Liddell has seen his nemesis, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, lose the light heavyweight title to Evans’ fellow The Ultimate Fighter champ Forrest Griffin. Undoubtedly re-energized at the thought of a December showdown with Griffin for the title, Liddell has both a lot to lose and a lot to gain in this fight with Evans.

On the other hand, Evans (16-0-1) has nothing to lose (except for maybe his undefeated record) and everything to gain with a win over Liddell, who would be the organization’s most popular fighter.

This fight will come down to Evans’ ability to take the fight down to the mat where he can use his wrestling ability to control Liddell. Of course, Liddell has perhaps the best takedown defense in the game and will continue to use his unorthodox style of squaring his body to his opponent with his wide base and working angles as he utilizes his trademark counter-punching style.

Evans neither has great hands nor a great chin to stand up with Liddell so this fight should end rather quickly given what’s at stake for Liddell. He knows a title shot is within his grasp and I don’t see the Iceman letting it slip through his fingers this time.

But we shall see Saturday night. Bring on the weigh-ins, I’m jacked!

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