Get ready for an assault of action MMA fans.
The action starts Jan 17 when Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson collide at UFC 93 in Ireland. Fellow staff writer Todd Jackson and I will do a full breakdown on the fight and pick our winners. Look for our War Report next week.
The week after that Fedor Emelianenko and Andre Arlovski do battle at Affliction: Day of Reckoning, Jan 24. I will be doing a live blog of the main card for Inside Fights so be sure to check in for the latest.
The following night the WEC will put on WEC 39. Lightweight champion Jamie Varner will defend his title against a very dangerous Donald Cerrone. Also on the card will be the rematch between Urijah Faber and Jens Pulver. Make sure you have the VERUS channel on your cable.
The month of January will end with a bang when Georges St. Pierre defends his welterweight title against BJ Penn at UFC 94. This is one of the most anticipated MMA fights in recent memory. The winner could be crowned the best pound for pound fighter in the sport today.
I hope you get to see most of the action and be sure to check in with Inside Fights for all your MMA coverage.
Ultimate Fight Night 17
The UFC has confirmed several bouts for its Spike TV telecast scheduled for February 7 at the University of Southern Florida Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida. The main bout will be between lightweights Joe Lauzon and Hermes Franca.
Also on the main card, Amir Sadollah will also be in action against Nick Catone. The two were supposed to fight at UFC 91 but the fight was rescheduled when Sadollah was forced to withdraw due to a leg infection.
I am a bit surprised to see Anthony Johnson vs. Luigi Fioravanti listed on the undercard. Johnson has recorded two of the most impressive knockouts of the year and was recently seen by millions on the “Fight for the Troops” card. You would think the UFC would want to market this rising welterweight star.
Also keep an eye on Josh Rosholt. The kid is 5-0 and considered by many to be one of the best pure wrestlers in MMA. He currently trains with Randy Couture at his Xtreme Couture camp. He faces a dangerous former boxer Alessio Sakara so he will need to take the fight to the ground.
This is the event that will precede UFC 94: GSP vs. Penn.
Something for free: UFC 95
If you hadn’t already heard, UFC 95 will air for free on Spike TV, Feb 21. That makes two shows in a row as Ultimate Fight Night 17 airs two weeks prior. While it may not be the biggest fight card of the year it features plenty of intriguing fights which include Diego Sanchez’s fight in the lightweight division against Joe Stevenson.
Also on the fight card will be two intriguing middleweight bouts: Demian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen and Nate Marquadt vs. Wilson Gouveia.
Josh Koscheck, the UFC’s new company man, is fighting once again against unknown Brazilian fighter Paulo Thiago. Hopefully for Koscheck he will fare better against this Thiago as he lost to Thiago Alves at UFC 90. As for Paulo he gets one chance to impress as he is only signed to a one fight contract. Talk about motivation.
UFC 96 card expands
This card will take place March 7 in Columbus, Ohio. We are still waiting for a main event. It will likely feature Chuck Liddell vs. TBA. That fighter that seems to be the front runner is Shogun Rua – that is if he able to win his UFC 93 fight against Mark Coleman and come out unscathed. It he is unable to do so then the loser of Franklin-Henderson has been also rumored.
In the meantime, there are a few fights that look like they could be done deals. Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller could be an entertaining lightweight fight. Miller last fought at “Fight for the Troops.” He took the fight against Matt Wiman on one weeks notice and dominated him from wire to wire. The winner moves one step closer to a title shot.
Also on the fight card is Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin. This will be Shane Carwin’s biggest test as an MMA fighter and if he can pull out a win against the dangerous Brazilian he could position himself for a title shot against the winner of Brock Lesnar-Frank Mir.
And it what could be “fight of the night” Dustin Hazelett is scheduled to fight Ben Saunders. Hazelett has really developed his reputation in 2008 and was named Inside Fight’s submission artist of the year. Saunders was relatively unknown until his brutal beat down of Brandon Wolff at “Fight for the Troops.”
Check back to Inside Fights for all the latest on this fight card.
Wanderlei Silva has PRIDE
It must be hard for a fighter who used to be one of the PRIDE organization’s most feared fighters. According to MMA Weekly Brazilian brawler Wanderlei Silva will meet with UFC president Dana White this week to determine his next challenge.
After his devastating KO loss to Rampage Jackson could likely be asked to drop down to 185. The move might be good for Silva and perhaps rejuvenate his career as he has lost 4 out of his last 5 fights.
The former Pride champion is not thrilled about a possible cut to middleweight. He walks around at 215 pounds, and doesn’t like to cut more than 10 pounds for a fight. He denied an immediate move to the division below him, but said he would wait to hear from “the boss.”
“It’s my normal weight,” he says of the light heavyweight class. “I never cut down too much weight for a fight. Maybe I go to fight one more time at light heavyweight, and after I go down.”
Wanderlei wants one more fight at light heavyweight before making the cut though.
“I am thinking I want to fight Chuck again,” says Silva. “I want to fight with him again because I had a good match with him, and his style is a good style for me, and my style is good for him. It’s good for the show. Maybe it’s good for Dana.”
Whatever happens there are still plenty of options for the man known as “The Axe Murderer.”
Three rounds of trash talk
Some fighters have realized that staying relevant in MMA is all about being vocal. No one knows that better then Chuck Liddell. In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel Liddell said:
“I’ll fight anybody they put in front of me as long as it gets me back closer to the title.” Liddell said. “I have to try to be the best at what am I doing. I want Rashad Evans, he’s got the title and I’ll take it.”
Liddell has some work to do before he gets another title shot in the crowded light heavyweight division. Liddell has lost three of his last four fights and he no longer appears to be the same world beater who dominated the talent-laden 205-pound division for two years up until 2007.
Liddell will start his climb back up the light heavyweight mountain in his fight at UFC 96 – we just have to wait and see his opponent will be.
In other trash talking, James Irvin was vocal about a return to the octagon when talking with Warrior Fight Store.
“My suspension is up on April 19. I will fight on the first card after April…I’d love to fight Wanderlei [Silva]…. I want to actually try and get to 185. There are a bunch of guys down there that I really want to beat up…. I just fought Anderson Silva who I find a lot scarier than Wanderlei. Not to take anything away from Wanderlei, but I only get up to fight tough guys.
I’ve trained for a long time and I’ve worked my way up the ranks. I only want to fight tough guys now. I don’t want to fight any lower class guys. Every time I fight now I’m going to ask for a top 10 guy.”
Is this the same James Irvin that got whacked by Anderson Silva, Thiago Silva, and was losing to Luis Cane before being saved by a knee to his grounded head (resulting in a DQ win)? Keep on dreaming Sandman.
In our third round of trash talking a trainer gets into the fray. World renowned boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who has been training Andre Arlovski over the past year has this to say to MMA Weekly:
As far as his stand up game, we’ll kill him. If we can keep the fight standing up, if he chooses to fight us like a man, we’ll dominate him…He throws one punch after the other. He’s very predictable. He makes the same moves every time. He’s very common. His boxing game is weak. From what I can see, I think Andre’s going to be sharper. I think we’re going to knock him out.”
Just in case you haven’t checked Fedor’s record lately he has never lost (except due to a cut) let alone been knocked out. It should be interesting when they collide on January 24 at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning.” As good a boxer as Arlovski may have become it won’t do him any good if Fedor takes him to the ground and submits him with a rear naked chock or armbar.
It looks like I am getting close to my word limit so I will tapout for now. Check back next week as we will be only a few days away from UFC 93. Enjoy the rest of your week MMA fans.
Tags: Andrei Arlovski, Chuck Liddell, James Irvin, Josh Koscheck, Mixed Martial Arts