The UFC puts together a very good card full of familiar faces and new people.
Carmelo Marrero Vs. Wilson Gouveia (Light Heavyweight)
"The Fury" lost his last UFC outing to Cro Cop killer Gabriel Gonzaga by armbar. Not really a surprise as Carmelo is known for wrestling, and not much else. That was his first loss however, so he is undoubtedly hungry to make a good impression on Dana White so that he can sign another contract. So he did what any fighter does when he feels that he does not match up skill wise... He drops in weight class!! This will be Carmelo's first fight at 205. Maybe he can pull a Randy Coulture and make it work.
Wilson won his last fight, catching Seth Petruzelli with a guillotine choke in the opening minute of the second round back in April. Wilson trains out of American Top Team, so you automatically know that his conditioning will be good, his ground game will be outstanding, and his stand up will be sharp. The guys at ATT don't mess around when it comes to MMA, so expect Wilson to be ready.
Gonzaga made Carmelo look like a somebody who fights out of his mom's basement. Wilson Gouveia is cut from the same cloth. Gouveia is a BJJ black belt with his last two wins coming by submission. Carmelo could not finish one dimensional kickboxer Check Kongo on the ground. Gouveia by RNC first round.
Jeremy Stephens Vs. Din Thomas (Lightweight)
Newcomer Stephens fights out of Des Moines IA, and is 13-2. He mostly fights in the Midwest, close to home. His primary method of winning is the KO, winning 9 by KO or by submission due to strikes. He has fought some people we know, beating VFC vet Vern Jefferson, and knocking out Kendrick Johnson... Just as a side note, I love it when Kendrick gets knocked out, submitted, whatever. I don't like him. Anyway, Jeremy is primarily a Ground and Pound fighter, but can pull out a sub once in a while winning two by RNC and armbar respectively.
Din Thomas is a man reborn after his time in the TUF 4 house. He choked out Rich Clementi then beat Clay Guida by decision. Din is very sharp with his stand up, and is a monster on the ground. Din is another ATT fighter, so the same applies here. He will be in shape and ready.
I like Jeremy, he knocked out Kendrick, but he has no chance here. Din Thomas is on a roll, and I don't see Jeremy doing anything that Din has not seen a thousand times. Din by KO second round.
Sean Salmon Vs. Alan Belcher (Light Heavyweight)
The UFC tries to make good on its three fight contract with Sean Salmon giving him another chance to fight after getting KOed in brutal fashion by a Rashad Evans head kick. Sean is a ham and egger out of Columbus, OH... that's really it. He wins by submission mostly, but he wins at such small or unorganized shows that they don't report how he submitted his opponent...
Alan Belcher too lost his last UFC fight. He too was brought back to conciseness after the fight, only Alan fell victim to a Kendal Grove Darce choke. Alan is primaraly a wrestler, wining by G&P KO and submission.
This one is a toss up... both guys are new to the game, and both guys come from teams that are not very well known. I gotta go with Belcher. He has more experience in the UFC and has a win there. Belcher by decision.
Thiago Silva Vs. James Irvin (Light Heavyweight)
Silva is 10-1 fighting out of his native Brazil and a couple of shows in Japan. He is a knock out artist, winning seven fights that way. He has not had a fight go out of the first round in his last 5. He looks like a very exciting prospect. Silva has a black belt in BJJ, and teaches BJJ in Sao Paulo. He trains out of a couple of places in Brazil, trading time between Alexandre Franca Nogueira's World Fight Center and Chute Boxe.
James Irvin won his last fight in the UFC by ref stoppage. James is known for punching very hard, and never ever giving up. James is reletless in his attack, but a bit sloppy. Stephan Bonnar was able to catch him with a Kimura, and Lodune Sincade was able to get a decision win over him. We will always know him as the guy who KOed Terry Martin with a flying knee from across the cage to begin the second round of their fight.
Silva comes from two of the best camps in Brazil. He is known for fast KOs, and strong kicking. He has a BJJ pedigree. I don't think that James has a chance. Silva by RNC first round.
Kalib Starnes Vs. Chris Leben (Middleweight)
Kalib lost his semi-final in TUF to Kendal Grove after suffering a separated rib. He then went on to defeat TKD fighter Danny Abbadi... Then he got KOed by Yushin Okami. Kalib is a BJJ fighter winning all but one of his 7 wins by submission....
Chris Leben lost his last fight in the UFC tapping to a Jason Macdonald g uillotine choke. We all know Chris. He likes to throw big punches, one right after another until he gets taken down or he knocks his guy out.
Kalib and Chris have a common opponent in Jason Macdonald, Chris lost by guillotine, Kalib won by KO. I don't think that this matters much as I don't think that Kalib can handle Chris' stand up attack. Chris by KO first round.
Houston Alexander Vs. Keith Jardine (Light Heavyweight)
Omaha native Houston Alexander steps in to the ring for his first fight in the UFC!! Houston won his contract to the UFC by "winning" the four man tournament that Monte Cox held at WinnaVegas two months ago. Houston basically ran though his two opponents, but landed an illegal knee to the head that his opponent could not recover from to end that fight in a No Contest.
You could call Houston's fighting style "street." He essentially runs at you punches you a lot goes to the ground then punches you a lot there. He is very aggressive, but not really versed in the submission game. His record is 10-2, with a decision loss to Josh Neer a long time ago in the Toad Holler Fight Club. Seriously.
Keith Jardine is coming off of a huge KO win over Forrest Griffen. Keith is a very well versed kickboxer, and very solid on the ground. He fights out of Greg Jackson's gym with Diego Sanchez.
Houston has a tall order with Jardine. By far this is the biggest fight in Houston's career, while it is just another Saturday night for Jardine. Honestly, I don't know why Jardine took this fight. With a win over Griffen that should put him in line to fight a bigger name, Ortiz, Evans, or Babalu. Instead he took a fight where he has everything to loose and nothing to gain. That said I don't think that he has much to worry about with Houston. Jardine by KO first round.
Josh Burkman Vs. Karo Parisyan (Welterweight)
Burkman comes off of a decision win over MAMA fighter Chad Reiner. Burkman is a good wrestler who uses his base and positioning to grind out wins. Mostly wins by decision, though. He has fought in his 18-4 record a list of very good fighters, Melvin Gulliard (win decision), Drew Fickett (win Guillotine Choke), Josh Neer (win decision), and Jeremy Horn (loss Guillotine Choke). He has been around the block.
Karo is coming off of a decision win over Drew Fickett. He uses his Judo and good base to position his fighters to win by submission or decision. Mostly by decision. Of his last 9 fights, or all of his fights in the UFC, he has gone 7-2, with only two wins by KO or submission. Karo is exciting, but not very good at finishing.
This will be a back and forth battle between two guys relatively evenly matched. Karo has the more experience and the better record. Josh has everything to gain by beating the big name. I don't think Josh can do it though... Karo by decision.
Terry Martin Vs. Ivan Salaverry (Middleweight)
Terry Martin has found his stride in the UFC finally getting a win after loosing to James Irvin (KO flying knee)then Jason Lambert (KO). He beat the much bigger name Jorge Rivera by KO back in February.
Terry is a durable strong fighter with good ground skill and decent stand up skill. Of his 15 wins 5 are by submission and 9 are by KO, with his last three straight by KO. His stand up coach, Dino Spencer, seems to have worked him very well. Terry fights out of Flo MMA in Chicago.
Ivan Salaverry is finally back in the UFC after being on the outside for way too long. Ivan is known for his sharp stand up and very sneaky ground work. His specialty being spine and neck cranks.
Ivan's last fight was in July of last year winning an easy KO over Art Santore.
This is an interesting fight. Ivan has not fought in a year and may have some serious ring rust to contend with. Terry has a tendency to get very nervous before big fights. I think that this fight comes down to who works better in the clinch, and on the ground. Terry will want to keep the fight on the feet, Ivan knows he has the advantage on the ground. Clinch work will determine where the fight goes. I think that Ivan is smoother in the clinch and he will work his body locks to get Terry to the mat. Ivan by RNC middle of the third round.
Chuck Liddell Vs. Quinton Jackson (Light Heavyweight)
Chuck... Chuck knocks everybody out with that big right hand. Chuck has not lost since November 2003, and has knocked out ever opponent since. A seven fight win streak... Ironically only three of those seven were against fighters he has not fought before...
Rampage Jackson has seemed to find his stride after loosing to Shogun in 2005. He has gone 3-0 since then, beating Matt Lindland by split decision, Yoon Dong Sik by decison, and Marvin Eastman by KO. Rampage is, normally, very aggressive, has fast heavy hands, and has solid wrestling, especially takedowns. He won the first fight with Chuck very similarly to how Randy beat Chuck. He beat him to the punch, wore him down, then pounded him out on the ground. His game plan is the same, and he hired a boxing traininer to improve his hand speed, and his foot work, crucial for defeating a counter puncher like Chuck.
As I said before, Chuck has knocked everybody out since his last fought Rampage, BUT none of them had the hand speed, power, or boxing ability that Rampage has. Since his fight with Chuck, Rampage had his biggest weakness exposed, straight knees from the clinch. His defense for them has been non existant. Since then he as stated that he has been working on his "Muay Thai" but has not out and out said that he has been working the plumb clinch.
Chuck is not known as a clinch fighter, or even a Muay Thai fighter. His style lends to old school American Kickboxing than to anything else.
In his last two fights, Chuck has shown some fatigue after throwing the big flurry. Rampage has only gassed in one fight that I know of, his loss to Sakuraba, and since then has shown very good cardio.
Neither of these guys is going to want to take the fight to the ground. I think that Rampage has the advantage there, however it is very difficult to hold Chuck on the ground. If there is any ground work, it will occur after a knock down, or after one fighter has gassed.
I think that Rampage wins this fight. I don't think that Chuck has figured out how to deal with fast strong straight punches and Rampage has show good ability to block looping punches. Rampage by decision!!