|Date: 10/18||1:00 AM|
Weigh-in results are courtesy of Sherdog whereas the fight previews that accompany each one are my own! Enjoy UFC 89 free tonight on SpikeTV at 9 PM EST, 8 Central. Check your local listings.
Dark matches/unscheduled to air:
* Per Eklund (156) vs. Samy Schiavo (156)
Samy Schiavo has had just one fight in UFC to date, a first round stoppage by Clay Guida at UFC Fight Night 13 back in April. Overall Schiavo has amassed a 10-5 record in his professional career, but it's telling to consider that he and Tito Ortiz were both born in the same year and some people now think Tito is past his prime. The Swedish born Eklund is six years his junior but his UFC career is no more impressive, having lost his only fight in the Octagon to Sam Stout at UFC 80: Rapid Fire. Half of Eklund's twelve wins have been by submission, but the same can be said of Schiavo, so this is just about as much of a "pick 'em" fight as you could ask for. Youth may be the only advantage Eklund has, but I'm thinking in surviving submission attempts youth may just give him the edge, and he may be a little quicker in getting to them as well. Although this one is likely to go the full 15 and never be seen in prime time, I'll go for broke and say Eklund wins via kimura arm lock halfway through round two.
* Jim Miller (155) vs. David Baron (155)
For a guy you may not have heard of, Jim Miller has quite an impressive resume. He's the reigning Cage Fury lightweight champion, and holds a victory over the highly touted lightweight prospect Bart Palaszewski from May of this year. He's 11-1 overall, with 8 of those 11 wins by submission (no knockouts). His French opponent David Baron has even more experience though, 16-2 in his career with four knockouts and nine submissions. Interestingly enough though one of Baron's two career losses was to Per Eklund. Hmmm. His other loss was to Takanori Gomi. That suggests to me Baron is a guy who may be on the cusp of greatness, but as yet has not been able to break through and beat the elite of the lightweight division. UFC 89 would certainly be a stage to make a case for being top ten, especially when your opponent holds another promotion's lightweight title. The fact all of Miller's finishes have come by submission though impresses the heck out of me, and with a wrestling background he's going to avoid takedown attempts and be looking for a few of his own. I'm picking Miller to hand Baron only his third loss and make his OWN case for being top ten via a three round unanimous decision.
* Sam Stout (155) vs. Terry Etim (155)
We have a lot of lightweight fights on the UFC 89 undercard this time! 'Hands of Stone' Stout should be very familiar to UFC fans, with a track record dating all the way back to UFC 58, but those heavy hands have not always worked to his advantage. He's split a pair of fights with Spencer Fisher, been beaten by both KenFlo and Rich Clementi, and his most notable victory may be over the aforementioned Per Eklund. A record of 13-4-1 suggests he is a credible threat, but in UFC he has failed to live up to his potential. Etim too has failed to capitalize on his opportunities, holding only one victory in three UFC fights, and he too has been defeated by Rich Clementi. In many ways this is another "pick 'em" fight but I honestly believe Stout has more potential to finish since 8 of his 13 wins are by knockout, whereas in 10 wins Etim has only KO'd an opponent once. I pick Stout via ref stoppage due to TKO in the very first round.
* David Bielkheden (156) vs. Jess Liaudin (155)
Try saying Bielkheden three times fast, because I don't think I can do it once without mangling it - I'm just too much of a Yank. He's 12-6 overall, and in his only Octagon bout he was stopped via strikes by Diego 'Nightmare' Sanchez at UFC 82. Considering Sanchez was not highly regarded for his striking coming into that fight (three of his last four wins before the fight were by unanimous decision) that had to be a dissapointing way for the Swede to make his UFC debut. Liaudin has his own share of problems though, having lost to both Marcus Davis at UFC 80 and Paul Taylor at UFC 85, and a 12-10 record overall suggests a stunning degree of mediocrity for a guy under UFC contract. This may be a make or break fight for Liaudin, a man whose nickname of 'Joker' either suggests he's a wild card that could win at any time or a half-baked fighter with loads of potential who just doesn't take his career seriously. Bielkheden strikes me as the more versatile fighter, splitting his wins almost evenly between KO and sub, which means Liaudin may be at a serious disadvantage in either area. Redemption will be Mr. B's and he will score a victory via armbar in round three. Bye bye Joker!
* Neil Wain (254) vs. Shane Carwin (264)
Wain in his short MMA career has four wins and no losses, and all four have been by KO or TKO. Impressive. Carwin may be even more impressive though as he's reeled off 9 wins without a single defeat at the age of 33, and I had the personal privilege of seeing him stop Christian Wellisch at UFC 84 in just 44 seconds. To put it bluntly, Carwin's a bad mo'fo. Wain comes highly touted and certainly has a slugger's pedigree but if Carwin came in just under the limit of the heavyweight division, picture how huge he's going to be come fight time. Cliched though it may be even good ol' J.R. would have to call this one a SLOBBERKNOCKER and when those fists start flying I think Wain will be the first to fall to the canvas, but I'm going to predict it takes each one a round of dancing around to find their range. Carwin by knockout in the first minute of round two.
* Akihiro Gono (171) vs. Dan Hardy (169)
Gono is the crafty MMA veteran, 28-12-7 in his career, and has been dubbed 'Magic Man' by some observers for his ability to find submissions where none seem available. He's also a colorful entertainer, very beneficial to him in his Japanese career, and not quite so well understood elsewhere, but he made the right impression on UFC fans by defeating Tamdan McCrory via armbar in his Octagon debut at UFC 78. Hardy is 19-6 with ten knockouts but is virtually unknown outside his native England and has not fought in the Octagon once. That's going to be a tough mountain to climb against a seasoned veteran like Gono, even with the "home field advantage," but it's too easy to pick the favorite all of the time. Gono's 12 losses do suggest he's vulnerable and when he gets rocked he gets rocked by the best of them, from Dan 'Hollywood' Henderson to Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua. I pick Dan Hardy for the surprising upset victory via R3 TKO.
Scheduled to air on SpikeTV:
* Marcus Davis (169) vs. Paul Kelly (169)
There's nothing that the 'Celtic Warrior' Davis or 'Irish Hand Grenade' (I prefer the latter myself) likes more than fighting in Europe. He's beaten Jason Tan, Paul Taylor and yes the aforementioned Jess Liaudin on foreign shores, yet suffered a surprising unanimous decision loss to Mike 'Quick' Swick at UFC 85 in a fight that was somewhat underwhelming to watch. Despite being known for his knockout power, Davis had little to no chance to showcase it. Kelly has ample opportunity to show his, winning 62.5% of his eight fights by knockout, unblemished in his MMA career. With a high profile win over Taylor at UFC 80: Rapid Fire, Kelly looks to continue his winning ways in UFC, whereas Davis needs to bounce back if he ever wants a welterweight title shot against Georges St. Pierre. A loss to both Swick and Kelly would derail any hopes of that ever happening, but a win in prime time on SpikeTV in front of an enthusiastic crowd (they love Davis in Europe) puts him right back in the mix. Davis may actually be the villain for once since Kelly is from Liverpool, but we'll see once the fight airs. I pick Davis to make the most of his opportunity and knock Kelly out in the first round.
* Chris Lytle (170) vs. Paul Taylor (170)
Another case of "pick 'em" if you ask me. 'Lights Out' Lytle does on occasion live up to his nickname (like against Kyle Bradley at UFC 81) but just as often goes down to a decision loss against the likes of Matt Serra and Matt Hughes. I don't think Lytle is anywhere close to the top of the welterweight division, but if UFC is willing to put him on the televised card they obviously have high hopes. Taylor always seems to be in a 'Fight of the Night' yet it's funny how he never ends up the WINNER of said fights. We've already named two men who have the better of him in this division in the last fight preview, Lytle may in fact prove to be the third. I wish I knew Cecil Peoples was judging this fight, then I could just predict a screwy scoring error that somehow results in a draw. With 25-16-5 in Lytle's career, he does have a winning record, but after high profile losses to Alves and Koscheck I'm not convinced he can even get past Taylor. File this one for the home town boy via three round slugfest and unanimous decision.
* Luis Arthur Cane (206) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (205)
Cane's only loss in his entire career was via DQ for kneeing James 'Sandman' Irvin in the face. Otherwise he's risen up through the light heavyweight ranks, slaying a string of talented competition in his Brazil before coming to the US to ply his trade, recently defeating Jason Lambert at UFC 81. If you don't know about Sokoudjou by now, you should. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has fallen to his African Magic, so too has the highly touted Ricardo Arona. Even MMA legends like Kazuhiro Nakamura have fallen prey to this mighty warrior from Cameroon. I predict the same for Cane - devestating destruction in highly entertaining fashion. Lytle will have to retire his nickname and give it to Sokoudjou. I like the idea of 'Lights Out' Sokoudjou better anyway. TKO three minutes into R2.
* Brandon Vera (203) vs. Keith Jardine (205)
'The Truth' has only proven to be a lie in recent disappointing performances against Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum. A victory against Reese Andy helped him re-establish some cred, but it was an unimpressive debut in the LHW division for the former heavyweight. Jardine too has suffered a setback after being crumpled by the awesome power of Wanderlei 'The Axe Murderer' Silva at UFC 84. Jardine is the perennial poster boy for potential unfulfilled - he can beat a top name like Chuck Liddell and then get destroyed in under a minute by a man who went a full 15 with Chuck himself. Despite that I see Jardine as a fighter on his way up and Vera as one on his way down, particularly since Vera seems to be too big to be LHW and too small to be a heavyweight. If there was a 215 pound division he'd be golden, as it is he's screwed. Jardine's body shots and hard kicks will make it a bad night to be a Truthsayer. Three round split decision favors Jardine.
* Chris Leben (186) vs. Michael Bisping (185)
And in our main event of the evening, Chris 'The Crippler' Leben takes on Michael 'The Count' Bisping in a loser gives up their stupid nickname match. Seriously though, the backstory to this fight provided on the UFC 89 Countdown Special was fucking fantastic. Leben admits he is all heart but no brains at times, and has had to learn not to let the demon alcohol destroy his life and shred his potential as a fighter, and if you've ever seen Leben's knockouts you know he has TONS of it. Bisping too was a bit of a louse with no direction in his life, taking odd jobs and whiling away his nights in English pubs, until he rededicated himself to MMA and went on a remarkably impressive winning streak both in England and in the UFC, becoming the second light heavyweight to win a season of the Ultimate Fighter. His only loss thus far has been to the undefeated and now future light heavyweight title contender 'Sugar' Rashad Evans. Recent wins over Terry Martin and Alessio Sakara for Leben though (including "Knockout of the Night" honors for the latter) convince me that if this becomes a stand-up war it's not good news for Bisping, and Leben does have something of an edge in terms of overall experience. Bisping favors striking and punching due to his time as a kickboxer, but one shot from Leben could ruin his day. He might be better off taking it to the ground as Leben has only four wins via submission, but you don't want to be caught in a guillotine in front of the hometown crowd in a fight seen free by millions either. The temptation to stand with Leben will be too great, and it's for that reason that I'm going to go with Chris 'The Crippler' Leben in an upset pick. Leben seems more focused and dedicated than ever, and a victory over Bisping will give Leben what he's wanted for the longest time - the ability to serve notice to the rest of UFC's middleweight division. Unfortunately for him the top of that division is Anderson Silva, so he may be fucked even if he does win, but at least he'd have an argument for a title shot if he does. Enjoy the show!